Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Oaths of Office
Posted by Jim Watts
From the files of the Iconic Book Project: The use of “sacred” books in taking oaths of office seems to be a nearly universal practice in the 21st century, at least by heads of state and other high officials. Compare images of inaugurations in the United States, Liberia, Israel, and Malawi, in which oath takers lays their hands on a Bible, with those from Indonesia (scroll down) where a Qur’an is held over the head of the oath taker, and those from Russia and (apparently) Venezuela where the oath is taken on the country’s constitution. Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko took his oath of office on both Bible and constitution simultaneously (scroll down) but then kissed the Bible. Some Indonesian oath ceremonies (e.g. for cabinet members) accomodate religious pluralism by having every oath taker accompanied by clergy and the books of their respective faiths. Of course, the taking of religious oaths of office (and various other kinds of oaths) feature the same kinds of rituals, from which the political ceremonies no doubt derive.