History of the Kammavaca
Kammavaca are among the most sacred of Burmese religious texts. Kammavaca consists of nine Khandakas from the Pali Vinaya Pitaka, each of which relates to a specific ceremony associated with monks of the Theravada school of Buddhism. Kammavaca were commissioned as works of merit to be presented to the Monk hood when a son entered the Buddhist Order as a novice or when they become ordained as monk
The beginnings of embellishment on Kammavaca appears to date from around the fourteenth cen- tury, with the discovery of palm- leaf manuscript. Around the latter half of the seventeenth century, a square type of writing executed became the preferred script for Kammavaca. Also at the time gold leaf (shwei-zawa) illustrations began to make their appearance.
Covers and margin embellishment became more lavish featuring intri- cate linked geometric patterns, hintha birds and twenty-eight Buddha’s of previous world cycles and the present Buddha with dici- ples and praying Devas. During the nineteenth century Kammavaca also came to be made from sheets of ivory, brass and copper. Produc- tion of Kammavaca continued unabated in Amarapura – Mandalay area during the early part of the Twentieth Century. Each page is turned away from the reader as it is finished. Women were expressly forbidden from placing pages on their laps. The book was carefully wrapped in a dust jacket (kabalwe) of silk, satin or velvet. Sometimes reinforced with strips of bamboo. Finally it was bound by a long ribbon (sa-si-gyo) woven on a card loom and placed in a gilded box for safe- keeping.