Just wondering if anyone has been following this project? Many years ago an American who had been a monk under Ajahn Buddhadasa told me that many Thai monasteries have piles of these old palm leaf manuscripts just rotting away. I remember thinking that was a shame. I recently learned that a conservation effort was started to digitize these old palm leaf manuscripts. The project has changed hands several times over the years, and so just searching for “Fragile Palm Leaf Project” gets a lot of hits to websites that are no longer involved. Anyway, you can find what’s been digitized so far on the British Library’s Endangered Archives Program website: Archival records from Fragile palm leaves digitisation initiative (EAP1150) | Endangered Archives Programme. There are many thousands of manuscripts in Thai, Burmese, Mon, and other languages, but I think the Burmese manuscripts are being digitized first.
Most of the manuscripts are from the 18th century and up. I glanced at some of the descriptions of the manuscripts that have been digitized so far, and most are not suttas, but texts on Pali, astrology, medicine, etc. Interestingly, sections of the Khuddaka nikaya seem to be common. On a related note, there’s an American professor who goes around the world cataloging Thai and Lao palm leaf manuscripts. This is an entertaining talk given by him on the subject: Tracing Pali and Thai Manucripts. His description of the contents of the manuscripts he catalogs seems quite similar to what I’ve seen in the Endangered Archives Program.