Printing prayers | 10.31
I’d written about this, earlier — http://tim.girvin.com/Entries/?p=346 — the power of that which is transcribed to translated prayer. That prayer is a series of sacrosanct sounds, it’s a vibration; it’s a resonation — and that writing that is, in itself, something magical; it’s an interpretation of that power. But that concept is really forgotten, in most parts of the word. Except Bhutan.
So going to the library, the national library — in Paro, Bhutan, you have the chance to dig in further, explore more, find more reference to the character of that peculiar writing, that script, squirreled and ancient as it is.
What I found, or what I’ve learned, or am learning is that the character of this calligraphy is still, after 40 years, bewitching. And when I see the handwriting — that gestured forms — it looks runish, and actually like something Tolkienish — something that’s cobbled from the mind of the man that concocted the Lord of the Rings cycle and saga…
Especially this handwritten character:
Exploring the library was one thing, examining the styles and intentions of Bhutanese and Tibetan, their variations and palaeography:
Then exploring the printing of the flags was more fascinating — the prayerful, even amuletic broadsheets and chant booklets. And the use of the kind of press that I first started out on, like a Heidelberg or a Vandercook, rolling platen press — still clanking and chugging along, printing away, these old texts.
There were other older texts, the manuscript broadside that were the basis, themselves, of the prayerflags. And here, carved and cut in blackened wooden stock, framed out to larger posters for protection and reckoning the darker gods, flourishing just outside the door…