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Tibetan lineal books.

Ladakh, a small "Y-shaped" country, was an independent monarchy for several centuries. After three separate wars, it was finally divided between Pakistan and India and, in 1962, by China and India. More than one hundred years ago, monk craftsmen in a Tibetan lamasery carved inscriptions on blocks of wood that were used to print the Ladkhi "Bible." This bible consists of 108 volumes with approximately a thousand pages each. The uniqueness of these volumes is in their shape. They are approximately 6" x 28" (15 cm x 71 cm) and made of bark paper, soft and light cream in color. The color forms a background that unifies the hand-cut calligraphy and the illustrations that accompany the written words.

Once a year, the tomes are read aloud by the monks; a process that takes three weeks. When the readings are over, the books are carefully pressed between lacquered slats to keep the unbound pages together. Then, each book is wrapped in silk brocade and returned to its place in the lamasery library.

Crafts in Culture

This is the second of a three-part series of articles on crafts. Each article describes the cultural context of a craft and illustrates the artifact or the people using it or making it. A lesson plan follows.
Creating a lineal book

Art Concept Artwork can illustrate a narrative.

Discussion Art exists often on two planes: the descriptive
 and the aesthetic. It remains art as long as
 there is a balance between the description and
 the aesthetic value.

Objective To create illustrations that have a dynamic
 composition which directs the eye in a particular

 To direct the eye, shift the center of interest
 to the direction desired or "point" lines such as
 road edges, profiles of people or objects that
 bleed off the page in that direction.

Materials Vellum or good quality drawing paper in 6" x 18"
 (15 cm x 46 cm) sheets, pens, brushes, ink
 and watercolors, 1/8" plywood slats, good quality
 cloth for wrapping.

Preparation Cut sheets to size. Select a short verse of good
 poetry. Make sketches of two pictures: one on
 the left that illustrates something from the
 first two lines and one on the right that
 illustrates the last line. Be selective about
 the poems--consider how they might be
 illustrated. The left hand (beginning picture)
 should face slightly to the right and the right
 hand (ending picture) should face back toward
 the left.

Presentation Draw a line 1/2" from all sides to form a 5" x
 17" (13 cm x 43 cm) rectangle. This line may be
 wide and in color or drawn with a pen. Then,
 1/2" from this line, draw a border 4" (10 cm)
 wide by 3" (8 cm) high around the picture areas
 on the right and left. Draw lightly with pencil
 guidelines for the lettering--top, middle and
 bottom. The lines should fit into a 4" x 9" (10
 cm x 23 cm) space. There is a 1/2" space between
 the lettering and each picture). Lightly pencil
 in the lettering to get correct spacing. Finish
 with pen and ink when the spacing is correct.
 Transfer pictures and finish with pen and

Evaluation The illustrations should enhance the calligraphy.
 The meaning of the poem should be made clearer
 by the illustrations.

Margaret W. Ryan is Associate Professor, the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
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Article Details
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Author:Ryan, Margaret
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1990
Previous Article:The cataldic alphabet: the letter as event and environment.
Next Article:Illuminating messages: introduce students to the principles of layout and design through calligraphy.

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