Title:Lacquered Book (Kammawa-sa)Artist:Artist UnknownDate:late 19th centuryCreation Place:Asia, BurmaCredit Line:The Alan and Dena Naylor Southeast Asian Art FundAccession Number:2000.84.3a-t
The early Burmese Buddhist religious texts called Kammawa-sa date from the Pagan period (1044-1287). Originally, they were either incised with a stylus or written in ink on plain unadorned palm leaf. By the late 17th century, however, a square type of Pali writing executed in thick, glossy black lacquer called "tamarind seed" became popular. Heavily folded lacquered cloth, often embelished with silver or gold-leaf decoration, was preferred for the production of sacred texts such as sutras and books of ritual practice. The pages of Kammawa-sa of the 19th century are protected by lacquered wooden covers with beveled edges. They are decorated overall with panels of lively free-hand gold leaf decorations.