[Burma: 19th century]. 16 leaves (4 7/8 x 21 inches), each lacquered in red with elaborate overall decoration in gilt, 14 leaves with lines of black/dark brown lacquer text in square script (known as 'magyi-zi) recto and verso, two leaves with text on one side only, the other with an overall decoration in gilt.
Unbound as issued between a pair of red lacquered teak boards, gilt decoration on outer surfaces, inlaid with glass mosaic decoration, Housed within a modern dark red morocco backed box.
A fine 19th-century Burmese Kammavaca.
Kammavaca is a Pali term describing verses from the Vinata that outline various rules and rituals of monastic life and ordination. Young men in Burma are expected to spend at least some portion of their youth in a monastery, as either an initiate or an ordained monk. The families of these newly ordained men often commissioned the creation of a kammavaca to present to the monks as an act of merit upon their sons's entrance into the monastery. "Kammavaca are volumes of one, five, or nine extracts from the Theravadin Vinaya, each relating to specific ceremonies associated with monks. Noel F. Singer writes that the earliest kammavaca consisted of folios made of plain palm leaves, each of which had four lines of square-inked script on a gold or silver background." ("Kammavaca Texts: Their Covers and Binding Ribbons," Arts of Asia, 23, May-June 1993) "In the 17th century, folios began to be made of pieces of cloth coated with lacquer and painted with cinnabar, and the square letters were written in thick, black lacquer. On rare occasions, folios were of ivory. Designs in gilt, which had been reserved for the ends of folios, end papers, and wooden coverboards, now began to appear between the lines of text. By the end of the 19th century, the lines of script on the folio increased to six or seven and sheets of brass or copper were introduced as folios." (John Falconer, and others, Myanmar Style Art, Architecture and Design of Burma, Hong Kong, 1998, p. 177).