Collection of rules for Buddhist nuns


This Pāli text, inscribed on lacquered and gilded palm leaf, contains a list of rules for the disciplines of monks and nuns.

What do we know about the manuscript?

The margins of the opening and first leaves record that the manuscript was commissioned as an act of merit by King Mindon (r. 1846–1853) and his chief queen, Setkya Devi. The margins of the rest of the leaves are decorated with delicate interlinear patterns of leaves. The leaves of a gilt board manuscript with red ornaments featuring the rules for Buddhist nuns. The manuscript is enclosed in two heavy wooden boards with red ornaments on gold ground.

What does it tell us about the lives of ascetics?

The Bhikkhuni Patimokkha contains the full set of the rules of monastic discipline to be observed by Buddhist nuns. The word ‘patimokkha’ refers to the two sets of codified rules that govern the monks’ and nuns’ lives. In contrast to the 227 rules for monks, there are 311 rules for nuns in the Vinaya Pitaka. These included respecting junior bhikkhus and male novices, not travelling further than six hours from the monastery of permanent residence and consulting bhikkhus on observance days.

View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.

Full title:
Bhikkhupātimokkha and Bhikkhunīpātimokkha
c. 1846–1853, Burma [Myanmar]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
IO Man/Pali 21

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Women in Theravada Buddhism

Article by:
Ajahn Sister Sundara
Buddhism, Women, texts and faith

Writing from the perspective of the Theravāda tradition, Ajahn Sister Sundara explores the role of women in Buddhism, in particular the role of Buddhist nuns.

Illuminated Buddhist Manuscripts

Article by:
Ms Jana Igunma, San San May, Burkhard Quessel
Buddhism, Illuminated texts

British Library curators Melodie Doumy, Jana Igunma, San San May and Burkhard Quessel explore some of the illuminated and illustrated Buddhist manuscripts in the Library's collection.

Buddhism introduction

Article by:
The British Library

An overview of articles and British Library resources relating to Buddhism.

Related collection items