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Court Barony on Copper for Pakshalika Kananbala


[Additional Photos]

Siddham!  Success to you!

Victorious is the race of Eastern Kings, and long the line of its forebearers; 105 generations of Kings.  Grandparents, Ozur, bringer of the rain, and Fortune of the 1,000 blessings, Mother Margarita, stronger than an iron lotus, who birthed twin tigers of valor, Tindal and Alberic, who reign wisely during an epoch of peace. 

They honor, address and command all who have gathered together, nobility, kingdom ministers, advisors, governors of regions, as well as servants of the king, to know that a court barony is to be given to Pakshalika Kananbala.  She is worthy to be rewarded as an example for good people, possessing a personal appearance that is commended, having an undisturbed mind, and versed in the three Vedas. Given by the Kings on the occasion of Their Court, in the time of the new moon during the summer heat, AS 56, consisting of a village near Concordia of the Snows, and a great field of puti-grass flanked on all sides with mango, breadfruit, betelnut and date palm trees, free from taxation which is associated by levies of gold on all royal subsides. 

Henceforth this gift of this land is to be respected.  Furthermore, both the one who receives this land and the ones who give the land are sure to be blessed with good karma.  She who gives back this gift or who takes the land of another shall be tormented along with her ancestors, after turning into a worm in excrement.  

(249 words)

Text by Me in my Indian Persona, Chatricam Megahanta, Translation by Rahul Joglekar, Copper Embossing by me, and Seal by Roibeard mac Neill mhic Ghille Eoin


This scroll I did the research on the words, and also the making of the scroll itself, since it was not on paper, but on copper, I had the chops to be able to do almost all of it. The text itself went through 3 drafts, and I had to beat the hell out of it to get it down to 250 words.  The format is based on Guar's research (see Text Source Materials) P.7.


1. Introduction

a. Invocation of Buddha or the god most favored by the donor

b. Name of the place grant was issued

c. Name of the donor, royal titles, his ancestry, sometimes even his military conquests or descriptions of other grants made, with elaborate flower descriptions of how awesome he is. This is known as the “Prashasti” ie the standard Praise Poem created by one of the ministers of the King which gets slapped on documents.  

d. Introduction ends with an address to subordinates, officials or to the inhabitants of the area where the village or land described in the grant is situated. (To whom is reading)

2. Notification (order of these items not consistent and some of them can be missing from the charters)

a. a specification of the gift, (what)

b. the name of the donee, (who)

c. the occasion when the grant was made, (when) 

d. its specific purpose, (what for)

e. and a description of the boundaries of the gift land (how big)

3. Conclusion

a. Request to respect the gift of the donor.

b. Threat if that request is not respected. (usually this is a curse or a spiritual threat)  with a promise of spiritual blessing if the request is honored.

c. Name of the official who prepared the grant.

d. Date that the Grant was made. 

Notes on the translation process:

I asked my coworker Rahul Joglekar if he knew someone on our team who could translate a text into Sanskrit. He said he could do it. I warned him it was 250 words, and sort of archaic. "Not a problem," he said. So I sent it over.

About a week later he had some very confused, very specific questions about what the text was about. I tried to explain the court system of the SCA (he already knew about the fighting part). Finally he confessed to me that I had used some verb tenses he was unfamiliar with and needed to cross check with an expert, so there would be a delay.

Not a problem, I replied.

Then the Delta variant of Covid-19 hit India. Rahul got involved in digging up oxygen tanks and medicine for his relatives and friends in his free time. I stopped asking about the translation. I started asking how he was. Then what I could do to help. I gave money to relief efforts. Then I gave more. Then some more. 

The award was given out in Ethereal court in the meantime, and the Signet gave me permission to turn in the scroll late, officially making it a backlog scroll. 

2 months later Rahul finished the translation. I am very grateful for the work he put into it, even as the world he knew at home was falling down around him and people he loved got very sick, and some died.  Continuing to produce art and work for the SCA during times of Global crisis always sits uncomfortably in my head.  It feels as if I am fiddling while Rome burns. This particular confluence of working with a culture which is not mine, in a time when the members of that culture were dying, in order to produce historically appropriate art which is an homage to that culture was doubly uncomfortable. 

Making the scroll:

Based on my current skill set with manipulating metal, and the tools I could easily acquire to do it, I decided to chase/emboss the letters into the scroll, like the example I had found in Guar (Pg. 24). 

While waiting for the translation I selected the gauge of copper. I settled on 30 gauge sheets as being stiff enough to not crease or mar through casual handling, but thin enough to hand emboss.   My resource books showed that there seems to be no standard size for copper plates. Acharya has plate sizes from 2 1/4” X 5 1/2” to 7” X 14” . Since the copper plates came in 6” X 12”, I just cut them in half so they were 3” X 12”.  This gave me only one edge on each plate that needed to be sanded smooth. 

I also started practicing how to make characters I was culturally unfamiliar with reproducing smooth, even, and recognizable.  It took me a day of practicing in my notebook to figure out that I could only put 5 lines of text on each copper plate.  I did not know until I got the translation back that meant I was going to be carving 3 solid sheets of copper with one sheet for signatures. 

Most Sanskrit letters arrange themselves on a line which is at the top 1/3rd of the character, but not all.  See the character highlighted in yellow.

 येषां पञ्चाधिक शतं

So in order to make sure that I did not just put a line through all of the letters, I highlighted the text Rahul sent me in yellow, so I could keep track of when I needed to make a break in my upper spacing line. Also, since I could not read what I was transcribing, as I finished a word from the google doc onto the copper, I highlighted it in red, so I knew where I was without getting lost.  (I have since turned it all back to black).

Here is a link to the final text:  Final_Translated_Document_From_Rahul

I just used a sharpie on the copper to draw the letters a line at a time, and then afterward used hand sanitizer to remove the sharpie marks on the copper. 

Since this scroll was being made in Pandemic Times, I did not track down the Kings and ask them to sign it in sharpie so I could emboss over it. Our fabulous Signet Feilinn had photos of their signatures on a previous scroll and I confess I did forge theirs and the Herald’s signatures on the scroll.  This is a practice that was done in period by the person who did the carving.  Usually their name was added to the scroll as well. [Guar, P7.].  However, when I had to cut down the words from 350 words to 250 words, I took my name off the scroll.  Since I ended up with an entire sheet dedicated to signatures, I ended up marking the corner with a version of my badge (a mushroom).

Making the seal: 

At this point I was now well WELL out of my depth.  I wanted to seal the scroll with the East Kingdom seal, like the copper land grants from period, but I did not know how to do that.  I contacted Roibeard mac Neill mhic Ghille Eoin and asked him if he would be willing to help me do the seal.  He leaped at the chance, which surprised me, as his work leans more Celtic/Anglo Saxon/Viking, but I was thrilled to be able to finally work with him.  Turns out he lives 20 minutes from me in Quintavia.  That said, our timing was really getting tight, so he said he would just do it outright.  I asked if I could (PLEASE! PRETTY PLEASE??) watch him.  

He graciously agreed, so I got to hang out with Roibeard and watch him do the bronze casting for the seal while being peppered with 1,000 of my questions.  What would have taken me weeks took him 4 hours.  I am so impressed with him.  He is a patient teacher and a brilliant artisan.  I could not be happier with our collaboration. 

I also asked him to sign the scroll, so he scratched his signature next to my mushroom. 

Mistakes were made: 

For the record: spelling mistakes in copper can not be corrected.  You have to start with a new piece of copper. This is an expensive mistake to make.  Try not to make it. 

I also bought a “clear coat lacquer guard” for the copper to try to keep the copper from tarnishing, and the scroll shiny for as long as possible.  I bought it from the same place I bought the copper from.  This was a terrible mistake. Don’t ever do this.  It clouded the copper. I had to bathe the thing in acetone and scrub it down to get it shiny again, creating a few new dents and mars in the soft copper. It will have to patina naturally, like it did in the period.  Lesson learned: Don’t use non period solutions to fix a “problem” that is not yet a problem when you think you are done with your scroll and you are happy with it. 

Text Source Materials:  

Acharya, Subrata Kumar, Copper-plate Inscriptions of Odisha, DK Printworld, New Delhi, India, 2014, ISBN 13: 978-81-246-0754-1  

Bapat, Shreenand L., and Pradeep S. Sohoni. "THE BIJAPUR-MUMBAI COPPERPLATE GRANT OF CĀLUKYA RULER PULAKEŚIN II, DATED APRIL 04, 619 CE, MENTIONING HIS TRIUMPH OVER EMPEROR HARṢAVARDHANA." Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 93 (2012): 205-09. Accessed April 14, 2021.

Fleming, Benjamin J. "New Copperplate Grant of Śrīcandra (no. 8) from Bangladesh." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 73, no. 2 (2010): 223-44. Accessed April 13, 2021.

Francis, Emmanuel,  Indian Copper-Plate Grants: Inscriptions or Documents?. Alessandro Bausi; Christian Brockmann; Michael Friedrich; Sabine Kienitz. Manuscripts and Archives: Comparative Views on Record-Keeping, De Gruyter, pp.387-418, 2018, ff10.1515/9783110541397-014ff. ffhalshs01892990f  

“The legal value of copper plates, as title-deeds, sale-deeds or assessment of revenue has several practical implications and consequences. Firstly, as the gift is theoretically perpetual, a durable document is expected, whence the choice of copper, as opposed to other supports such as palm leaf, fast-decaying under the Indian climate.2” -P9

“In the course of time, copper plates were replaced by paper documents. In the Deccan, from ‘the thirteenth century onwards, copper-plate grants were increasingly replaced by farmāns (royal edicts) on paper, signed and stamped by court officials’ (Sohoni 2016, 89). But copper plates could surface again. Sohoni (2016, 91‒ 92) further notices that at the local level, some of the paper documents were copied on copper, because such ‘extra-official copperplate grants had a greater social value than paper farmāns for at least two reasons. First, the aura of the format, which suggested an antiquarian (and therefore old and well-established) basis for any claim of land tenure or revenue rights; and second, the pragmatism of using metal documents in a region where nature conspires with humans towards the loss of paper was well appreciated’.”  P12

Gaur, Albertine (1975), Indian Charters on Copper Plates in the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and printed Books, London: The British Library 

Pg. 24, Image of a Copper Plate (Non Palm Frond size and shape) with clear marks of metal embossing, rather than metal carving.

SALOMON, RICHARD. "THE INSCRIPTION OF SENAVARMA, KING OF OḌI." Indo-Iranian Journal 29, no. 4 (1986): 261-93. Accessed April 17, 2021.

Shukla, Devendra Nath. "THE TREND OF DEMOTION OF FEUDAL FAMILIES IN THE EARLY MEDIEVAL INDIAN COMPLEX." Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 41 (1980): 177-83. Accessed April 18, 2021.


Reasons why I am not doing this in verse:

Kingly Sanskrit Praise poems stuck into the text (Part eulogy for the kings before him, part praise poem for the man he is).

Another example of a Prashasti, used as a reference for this text.

Tamil version of the same thing: 

Astrological events of 2021 so I can do some period appropriate dating:

Making the scroll source material :

Color image of copper scroll.

Using Indian Dies for Jewelry Making:

[Interesting, but I did not end up using this.]

South-Indian Inscriptions, Vol. III- Miscellaneous Inscriptions from the Tamil Country, Part I.- Inscriptions at Ukkal, Melpadi, Karuvur, Manimangalam and Tiruvallam (Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial Series, Vol. XXIX)

Francis, Emmanuel, Indian Copper-Plate Grants: Inscriptions or Documents?. Alessandro Bausi; Christian Brockmann; Michael Friedrich; Sabine Kienitz. Manuscripts and Archives: Comparative Views on Record-Keeping, De Gruyter, pp.387-418, 2018, ff10.1515/9783110541397-014ff. ffhalshs01892990f

The plates were prepared by braziers using hammers, while according to Gaur (1975, ix), some ‘scholars believe that the letters may have been scratched into the surface of the plate with a sharp instrument (as a stylus is used on the palmyra leaf) while the plates were covered with a layer of mud’. We know of writings on stone and copper where, as a preliminary step, the text was written down with ink or paint. Salomon (1998, 65) provides examples ‘wherein the ink or paint is still visible in the inscription … or where the final step of carving the inscription was never carried out’.7 It seems possible that other plates have been cast through the lost-wax technique or engraved when heated. According to Natarajan and Kasinathan (1992, 70), in the earlier period, the technique seemingly was ‘cutting with chisel,’ whereas in the later period, the writing was made on the plate ‘in molten condition’. -p.5

Close up of a seal:|2916#

Example that Roibeard worked from for the seal:

Example of how Signatures/witnesses were handled on copper plates:



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