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Parabaik (Burmese: ပုရပိုက်; pronounced [pəɹəbaiʔ]) is a type of paper, made of thick sheets of paper that are blackened, glued, and folded together. Along with paper made from bamboo and palm leaves,[1] parabaiks were the main medium for writing and drawing in early modern Burma/Myanmar.[2]


There are two types of parabaiks: historically, black parabaiks (ပုရပိုက်နက်) were the main medium of writing while the white parabaiks (ပုရပိုက်ဖြူ) were used for paintings and drawings. The extant black parabaiks consist of works of scientific and technical importance like medicine, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, history, social and economic commentary, music, historical ballads, fiction, poetry, etc. The extant white parabaiks show colored drawings of kings and court activities, stories, social customs and manners, houses, dresses, hair styles, ornaments, &c.[3] The majority of Burmese chronicles were originally written on parabaiks.[4] A 1979 UN study finds that "thousands upon thousands" of rolls of ancient parabaiks were found (usually in monasteries and in homes of private collectors) across the country but the vast majority were not properly maintained.[2]

A parabaik depicting a panorama of scenes from the Buddha's life

See also[edit]



  1. ^ EB (1878), p. 556.
  2. ^ a b Raghavan 1979: 4–14
  3. ^ Raghavan 1979: 6
  4. ^ Hla Pe 1985: 37