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.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tripitaka Koreana (3)

I have twice already blogged about the Tripitaka Koreana (here and here), the 13th-century collection of 88,000 wooden printing blocks of Buddhist sutras stored and displayed in the Haeinsa monestary in Korea. On Sunday, I was lucky to see a procession in Seoul that began the cellebrations of the millenial anniversary of the carving of the original set of printing blocks. Participants carried reproductions of the print blocks on their heads or backs through the streets of the city, preceded by palanquins containing more blocks and followed by dancers and soldiers in period costumes. It was a vivid example of how ritualizing the iconic dimension of texts allows broad participation by lay people who are unlikely to have the linguistic skills necessary to read and interpret these Chinese texts.

No comments: