Cylinders such as this example were formed from cloth stiffened with lacquer and rolled to form a tube (Isaacs & Blurton, 2000, p. 87). One end is closed and the other has a removable cap. The tube is in black lacquer incised in grey with Burmese lion (thein) figures within cartouches and surrounded by stylised orchid motifs against a cross-hatched ground.
Such cylinders were used to hold letters between senior monks, or official documents such as diplomas. Fraser-Lu (2000, p. 112) says that such document holders most probably were to hold documents written on dried, cut palm leaves.
Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Lacquerware, White Orchid Books, 2000.
Isaacs, R., & T.R. Blurton, Burma and the Art of Lacquer, River Books, 2000.