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Burmese gilded "bible"

Burmese "bible", called a kamawar or kammavaca, with covers and all pages lacquered and richly gilded with gold foil, the covers decorated with designs of angels and kinaras, etc., each page 24" W and 6.5" H. It has 14 folios with Buddhist scriptures, although only 3 folios and the two covers are shown in the photo. A kammavaca volume contains extracts from the Theravadin Buddhist Vinaya (rules of conduct and discipline in a monastery) relating to specific ceremonies associated with monks. The folios are made of pieces of cloth coated with many layers of lacquer, the outermost layers of lacquer are mixed with cinnabar for an orange color, then the pages are covered with gold foil, the square letters are written in a thick black lacquer, and the background gold foil is etched with various designs.

These are very luxurious and costly books, normally commissioned by wealthy patrons for donation to a monastery. The inside of the front cover usually contains an inscription recording this donation and often the date. The inside of the cover of this kammavaca also has such an inscription in Burmese that states: "In 1289 (of the Burmese calendar, or 1928 AD) in ----- (name of the district rubbed out) Ywama village, Ko Aung Pan and sons and daughters donate this book, and let all creatures from heaven and earth rejoice."

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