A Kammavaca was often commissioned and donated by a family as a work of merit as a son entered or was ordained into a monastery. The text itself relates to the ordination ceremony and other monastic rituals for Theravada Buddhist monks.
Complete sets are becoming rarer as they are often split up. This complete set consists of 2 wooden covers and 16 leaves. The Pali script is written in “tamarind seed” or magyi-zi, which refers to the style of raised square script. The margins are hand decorated with birds and floral patterns in gold leaf on a cinnabar background. The lacquered wooden covers are decorated with images of the Buddha, devas, and figures from Buddhist mythology and provide stiffness for the more flexible leaves. The inside of one wooden cover features a gilt cartouche, partially worn, with writing on it. The first and last pages are decorated with mythological figures and plants and animals on one side and text on the other. The leaves and covers have a hole that would have been used on a bamboo skewer to hold the manuscript while being read.
Each page is numbered and has 6 lines of beautiful slightly raised lacquer script. There is some wear to the leaves but it is in very good condition for its age, with bright gold and dark semi-translucent script. The appearance of the red and gold decoration changes notably depending on the light angle. In raking light, the warmth of the red is very apparent as shown in several pictures. In direct light, the red almost disappears and appears dark brown against the reflected gold. Photos 2 and 3 are of the same layout but demonstrate the lighting difference. One page has a handwritten correction or edit (see photo). It dates to the mid to late 19th century. The wooden covers measure 23.5 by 5 6/8 inches and the leaves measure 22 5/8 by 5 2/8 inches.