Monday, January 09, 2017

Escaping the Deep Cold of a Michigan Winter


The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is currently running an exhibit of Tibetan book covers, a type of art of which I was previously 100% unaware. Tibetan books consisted of a stack of unbound leaves of paper, which were evidently long and narrow -- none appeared in the exhibit. A book was stored between two decorated pieces of wood, and bound together to keep the entire book intact. Elaborate carved and painted decorations appeared on both sides of each piece of wood; sometimes elaborate designs were made to face the paper, in respect of the texts as well as facing outward. We were very fascinated, and Len took a number of close-ups of the carvings (above).

From the UMMA Website an image of an entire cover: "Shakyamuni, outer face, upper book cover, vol. 1,
Tibet, 14th–15th century, wood with traces of paint and gilding." Size: around 24 inches long.
In the libraries of Tibetan monasteries, each book bound in its covers would be stored in a kind of cubby-hole, and removed when it was to be read. During the cultural revolution, many of the covers were treated as trash and used as chopping blocks in kitchens. The documentation of the exhibit included no information about how these beautiful objects were recovered, restored, and collected by the private MacLean Collection.

This is what the documentation says:
"Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection is the first major exhibition to examine the subject of Tibetan book covers. For Tibetan Buddhists, books are a divine presence in which the Buddha lives and reveals himself, and they are venerated and handled with the utmost respect. The exhibition features thirty-three book covers dating from the eleventh to the eighteenth century that represent the glorious iconographic array and non-figural decoration typical of these sacred items. The majority of covers in the exhibition are Tibetan Buddhist, but the exhibition also includes a rare Bon-religion cover and two covers from Mongolia, as well as an important pair of covers produced circa 1411 for the Chinese Ming emperor Yongle. Protecting Wisdom presents a stunning visual display that illuminates a virtually unknown type of art, one that will charm and intrigue both those familiar and unfamiliar with Tibetan art." (source)
The entire exhibit was incredibly intriguing, as I had no previous exposure to this type of Tibetan art. We did not purchase a catalog, which might have more information. My web search didn't turn up much info either, except that the exhibit previously appeared in Dallas.

During the deeply cold weekend, we also tried a small Chinese dumpling restaurant. The dumplings are quite good and varied: we had tried them before as take-out, and like the lamb, beef, and pork fillings. However, the restaurant leaves much to be desired in the aspect of service. Suffice to say, we might get take-out but won't be eating-in there again!
Dumpling presentation: toss them on a plate. Your customers have been
waiting so long they won't care anyway.


~~louise~~ said...

Hi Mae:)
I have never been exposed to this type of art either. How utterly fascinating. One way to beat the Winter blues I suppose:)

Thanks for sharing this info Mae...too bad about the least the dumplings are edible though:)

Jeanie said...

I love dumplings but that's a good warning about the service!

The covers are just beautiful and thanks for including so much background info. It's fascinating.