[Burma: 19th century]. 16 leaves (5 1/8 x 22 inches), each lacquered in red with elaborate overall decoration in gilt, 14 leaves with lines of black lacquer text in square text (known as 'magyi-zi') recto and verso, two leaves with text on one side only.
Unbound between a pair of wooden coverboards, lacquered in red and with gilt decoration on outer surfaces, covers and text leaves with a single hole for tying (tie lacking), all contained within a protective cover roll (or 'sapa-lwe') of bamboo strips, red, green and blue cloth, interwoven by variously coloured threads, the roll secured by a long woven binding ribbon or 'sa-si-gyo.' All within a modern cloth box with leather label.
The Kammavaca is a Pali term describing verses from the Tipitaka that relate to rituals of monastic life and ordination. It is considered to be one of the most sacred of Burmese religious texts often commissioned by lay-people as works of merit when a son entered a Buddhist 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).