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The Art of Buddhist Manuscript Sutra Covers

November 25, 2021 2 min read

There is culture and then there is art.

And it is by standing on the bridge between the two, that I derive the most pleasure. Here is a little note on Buddhist Sutra covers, in which I’ve put together experiences from Sikkim, Ladakh and of course the artworks in the wovensouls collection.


The reading of sutras in monasteries takes place with the monk or devotee seated on the floor in front of a low table on which the manuscript is kept.

And so, as these sutra folios are flipped from the unread stack to the read stack one by one as the collective chants continue. Different occasions require unique chants to be used and so numerous different chants exist. Like in Hindu tradition of recitation of sanskrit shlokas, Buddhist chants were also actively memorised and chanted. At some stage the subject matter began to scripted by hand and evenutally by block print.

To keep all the loose folios together, heavy and hardy covers are used at the top and the bottom before the complete set is wrapped up in a cloth and sometimes tied.


Here is a collection of Himalayan Sutra covers … ranging from waxed paper to silver ..

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Asset 1606 on WOVENSOULS

Finally here is a video of a monk in a remote village monastery. By the way, this village hosts a mountain carved Buddha statue… not as big as Bamiyan but still very very big! A fleeting glimpse in the video.

And to any Karen watching this… this video was taken with the permission of the monk.


If you cannot see the video, view it on this Youtube link

The Sutra covers in the wovensouls collection may be viewed here: WOVENSOULS COLLECTION




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