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An emancipation deed drawn up by Kaisāṃ Khunu to free his female slave Palsāṃ Buṭī after his death (VS 1949)

ID: E_3446_0032

Edited and translated by Manik Bajracharya in collaboration with Raju Rimal and Rajan Khatiwoda
Created: 2017-04-12; Last modified: 2018-06-22
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Published by Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Pre-modern Nepal, Heidelberg, Germany, 2017. Published by the courtesy of the National Archives, Kathmandu. The copyright of the facsimile remains with the Nepal Rashtriya Abhilekhalaya (National Archives, Government of Nepal). All use of the digital facsimiles requires prior written permission by the copyright holder. See Terms of Use.
The accompanying edition, translation/synopsis and/or commentary are available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License CCby-SA.


Kaisāṃ Khunu, a resident of Sāmāgāũ in the Aṭhāra Saya Kholā region, makes official provisions to free his female slave Palsāṃ Buṭī after his death.

Diplomatic edition


[unknown seal]






Hail! Written on Friday, the 9th of the bright fortnight of Kārttika in the [Vikrama] era year 1949 (1892 CE) [by] me, Kaisāṃ Khunu, resident of Sāmāgāũ, [which lies] in the Aṭhāra Saya Kholā [region].

Āge: During the rainy season of the year [VS 19]49, when a famine occurred in the immediate surroundings, Palsāṃ Chīrīṃ2 jānī1 and [their] daughter Palsāṃ Buṭī came to my house and said: "Our family has suffered excessively due to hunger and famine. Please save our lives." Palsāṃ Chīrīṃ 2 jānī then said: "Please determine a price for my daughter Palsāṃ Buṭī and uphold the dharma by accepting (i.e., buying) her." After he said this, since they were of an enslavable caste (māsīne jāt), on Monday, the 5th of the bright fortnight of Jyeṣṭha in the year [VS] 1949, after arranging a paramabhaṭṭā together with a deed of consentment (rājīnāmā) from the girl, [I] handed over mohara rupaiyā 25 [as the price] for the 14-year-old Palsāṃ Buṭī to her father and mother. [The girl officially became my slave] through oil being applied to her head (kapālmā tel ṭhokī). [I] have been assigning her work and using her as a slave for a period of 5 or 6 months. What shall I do now? I have no use for this Palsāṃ Buṭī as a slave. It has felt like living in a house of sin, and [therefore] even though this girl has been a slave up until today, I shall free her while I am [still] alive. Throughout my life she should work for and serve me. After my death she is free from both caste and work [obligations]. None of my descendants down to the 7th generation may take possession of her, stating: "[She was] the slave of our ancestors." May whoever troubles her or uses her for work as a slave be burnt [to death] under my curse. [Her time] will be spent in work and service [for me] throughout my life. She has no obligations [afterwards] regarding her caste. The said girl shall only work for the remainder of my life, [thereby?] purifying her caste and rice commensality [status].2 I have written this religiously solumnized document (dharmapatra), offered it to the body of the Lord, signed it and shall [now] hand it over to Palsāṃ Chīrīṃ 2 Jānī, the father of the said [slave] Palsāṃ Buṭī.

The witnesses to this document are: TahabildāraMargā Guruṃ - 1, Vaṃparā Thakālī - 1, Manacīt, the mukhiyā of Sāmāgāū - 1, ...3 Bhoṭe of the same village - 1 and the witness of the writer Kām ...4 Thakālī of Thākṭukcegāū - 1. The date is valid. Auspiciousness.


I bow down to the glorious goddess Sarasvatī, [my] guru, [my] father and Citragupta.


This is a document from the collection of Tsering Wangdu of Nubri. It mentions the owner's applying oil to the forehead of the slave. One may assume that this was a ritual performed to formalize the act of enslavement. The Mulukī Ain repeatedly mentions the phrase tela ṭhoknu, "to pat with/apply oil", in the context of enslavement without explaining it further. This document places the practice within one concrete situation. Later in the document, the master declares that the slave girl's caste is purified (of its slave status), so that she would not remain enslaved after his death. This may prove that it was possible for a slave owner to raise the caste status of his slaves to a non-enslavable one, especially in a northern society. The identity of the master, Kaisāṃ Khunu, is not clear. Another document (Tsum_0014) concerning tax collection in Pārogāũ of the Aṭhāra Saya Kholā region mentions the name Kaisāṃ Khunu as the jimmāvāla.


1. The meaning is unclear. It may mean "2 persons", i.e., Palsāṃ Chīrīṃ and his wife. However, in line 27 of the document, the father of Palsāṃ Buṭī seems to be called Palsāṃ Chīrīṃ 2 Jānī, as if 2 Jānī were part of his name. []

2. It not clear whether she is purified first and proceeds to work for the rest of the masters life or the purification is something she herself does by serving for the rest of his life. []

3. A lacuna in the original. []

4. A lacuna in the original. []