The earliest known painted palm-leaf manuscript is an edition of the Oghaniryukti, dated 1060 (Vikrama period 1117) and kept at the Jaisalmer bhandar (Doshi 1985). It is a copy of a Sanskrit text on theistic Hinduism attributed to Acharya Kundakunda. The original work has been lost but copies exist today.
The term "manuscript" was originally used for books made from sheets of vellum or other materials that were pasted together. But in modern use it also refers to books made from printed pages bound together. So even though this ancient book was never printed, it is still considered a manuscript.
Books began to be made from printed pages rather than manuscripts around 1450. Before then, printers would make multiple copies of a book and choose which ones were going to be the official versions called "editions." These might include changes made by the printer to fix mistakes or add new material. Some editions were only distributed to certain people within the church or royal court. Others were sold to cover the costs of printing them.
This Oghaniriya manuscript contains poems by Jain authors including Padmapāda, who lived in what is now India around 600 AD. He is one of the most important Jain poets and his works provide valuable information about his religion.
When Indian traders, colonists, military adventurers, Buddhist monks, and missionaries carried the Indic script to Central Asia from South East Asia around 500 AD, Indian calligraphy took off. Various conceptions and ideas were developed throughout a 1000-year period, from the late 400s to the late 1400s. The Mughals, who ruled much of North India from 1526 to 1783, were great patrons of the art, especially of handwritten letters.
Calligraphy is the art of writing with special brushes and ink on paper or parchment. Calligraphers write in several different styles including italics, oblique, and blackletter. Today, handwriting is often used instead.
The term "calligraphy" comes from the Greek kalli gephyros, meaning "beautiful writing". In English, it is sometimes called "penmanship". Before the invention of printing, people had no choice but to handwrite their letters. So the first people to develop ways of drawing letters with precision and beauty were also the first letter writers. Writing instruments such as pens and pencils have changed over time but the principle behind them has not: you use your finger to create an image on paper that looks like what you are trying to say out loud.
In India, writing with a pen was popular from at least the 3rd century BC, if not earlier. It is said that Aristotle wrote a treatise on penmanship.
The Orhan (Orkhon) Inscriptions, found in the valley of the Orhan River in Northern Mongolia in 1889, are the earliest known inscriptions in a Turkic language (see the Introduction on Turkish linguistic origins). The two main monuments date from 735 CE and 732 CE, respectively. They are records of official transactions between the rulers of China and Russia as well as between their representatives.
According to some sources, these inscriptions were inspired by Arabic script I have seen this claim mentioned many times on Wikipedia and other websites but cannot find any references supporting it. There are several differences between the two scripts that make this claim unlikely: 1 the Arabic alphabet has 29 characters while the Chinese character system had not been developed at the time of the Orhan Inscriptions's creation; 2 the Arabic script is based on the Phoenician one which was used in Western Asia whereas the Orhan Inscriptions are based on the Old Uighur one which was used in Eastern Asia; 3 although both languages are members of the Indo-European family, they evolved independently from each other. More likely authors of these inscriptions were either Buddhist monks who could read and write Tibetan or Mongolian or even Chinese people who could read and write Turkish (the current theory is that they were written by a Chinese man named Pan Jiaxin who was hired by the Turgesh rulers of Mongolia).