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, September 16, 2009

Miniatures too small to read

Julia O'Brien blogs about seeing the exhibit of miniature books at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum.

There were small mosaics, small sculptures, small shipping guides, but mostly small religious texts. Small Psalters. Small Qurans. And small Bibles.

Some of these miniatures were functional, actually used by readers even before the days of bifocals. They allowed people to have words that were portable and private-- pocket editions.

But many were clearly too small to be read. It's hard to imagine how they were even produced. These texts weren't reading material; they functioned atropaically--as amulets , talismans, good luck pieces. These Bibles were owned, touched, tucked away, treasured. But not read. The idea of the Bible mattered more than its content

Indeed! But the fact that more texts than just the Bible get subjected to such miniaturization shows that the iconic potential of books is not limited to scriptures, though they provide the most extreme examples.

No comments: