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.)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Old books as cultural memory in Timbuktu

Part of the power of iconic books, especially the old and/or rare copies that function as cultural relics, derives from how they seem to hold out the promise of preserving or even retrieving an endangered cultural heritage. Libraries therefore are often depicted as cultural shrines. A case in point is the story in Friday's Guardian that Timbuktu's old manuscripts are being gathered into public and private libraries and made accessible to scholars and the public. “`We must preserve them because it is our history,' says Abdulrahman Ben Essayouti, imam of Timbuktu's Great Mosque. `Writing remains but stories disappear'."

No comments: