Thursday, August 25, 2016

REVIEW of The Archaeology of Tibetan Books by Agniezka Heiman-Wazny

The Archaeology of Tibetan Books
by Agniezka Helman-Wazny
Brill's Tibetan Studies Library;Volume 36, 2014
Brill, Leiden/Boston, 298 pages

ISSN 1568 6183

Generally, people consider the material culture of old Tibet prior to 1959 as backwards compared to what we would call the developed world. However, one aspect of Tibetan culture for millennia far surpassing any other culture is it's vibrant and, I might add, living culture of mind which has come to light upon the diaspora of knowledge holders coming to the West and the enormous cornucopia of literature in the Tibetan language revealed in its political upheaval and published now in many languages. As most historians would agree, the meeting of Tibetan culture with the West is as relevant as the vast richness of Hellenic culture meeting European for the first time. How these influences will shape future cultures is still a work in progress. Those of us who are practitioners of Dzogchen,  are indebted to Tibetan culture as the container for preserving precious wisdom Teachings.

Like the Inuit of Greenland with their hundreds of designations for Snow (being their most present artifact), Tibetan language has an extraordinary range of vocabulary in the hundreds, maybe thousands to do with mind. I'm no scholar here in linguistics or Tibetan culture but with the explosion in translated publications from the Tibetan into World languages, we can see the vast scope of learning preserved in perhaps the harshest environment on earth. As most of the educated world has come to accept, Tibetan culture despite its limited material culture and widespread illiteracy nonetheless had a highly sophisticated body of literature.

With this culture of mind, of course, there are books and libraries, and then the technology of books, paper, printing, inks, craft and artistry to execute these from the earliest manuscripts found in Dunhuang in the first century C.E. through the centuries.

The synopsis from the publisher writes:

In The Archaeology of Tibetan Books, Agnieszka Helman-Wa┼╝ny explores the varieties of artistic expression, materials, and tools that have shaped Tibetan books over the millennia. Digging into the history of the bookmaking craft, the author approaches these ancient texts primarily through the lens of their artistry, while simultaneously showing them as physical objects embedded in pragmatic, economic, and social frameworks. She provides analysis of several significant Tibetan books—which usually carry Buddhist teachings—including a selection of manuscripts from Dunhuang from the 1st millennium C.E., examples of illuminated manuscripts from Western and Central Tibet dating from the 15th century, and fragments of printed Tibetan Kanjur from as early as 1410. This detailed study of bookmaking sheds new light on the books' philosophical meanings.
Now, here is where I get very enthusiastic about this particular publication on the archaeology of books.. Having studied in my youth for a certificate in analytical field archaeology at the University of Massachusetts with  aspiration for an academic career in anthropology, I came to respect the science of analytical archaeology where the minute details of archaeological remains contain potential to illuminate the broader strokes of meaning—much like the poetical view that a grain of sand contains a whole universe, as poet William Blake expressed it:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

The main idea here is that in order to understand culture with little physical remains and artifacts, studying the traces of natural elements could still reveal a base of important knowledge about the habitats and behavior of people. When you think of it, it is something amazing that one can tell so much about a culture even from soil analysis, weather patterns, pollen deposits, etc.

The other topics covered in this publication which greatly interested me was the evidence of innovative 
book structures beyond the traditional pecha style of Tibetan books we are used to seeing. It  was a  marvelous revelation to witness where traditional models met with individual expressions of artist creativity. I am not surprised because knowing many Master of Tibetan Buddhism without fail most are highly artistic in original ways not just traditional arts/craft. 

Papermaking in Tibet is fairly well-documented. One of the unique qualities of Tibetan papers prior to the 1950's was the wide spread use of fibers (Daphne and Edgeworthia species) which had the properties to repel insects-- hence the longevity of Tibetan books.  Heiman-Wazny thoroughly explores these along with 

MORE TO COME on Paper technologies..........

Jacqueline Gens
August 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Basho’s Pond: Lotus leaves, Frogs and the Spirit of Transformation. Art Installation and Exhibit of Handmade Paperworks by KPC Member Sheryl Jaffe

WHEN: September 4-October 22, 2016

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday September 10, 2016,  5:00 PM - 8:00PM

WHERE: Easthampton Arts Walk
Mill 180 Park, Easthampton 413-527-0311
180 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA 01022

Furu ike ya --Old Pond 

kawazu tobikomu --Frog Jumps in
Inmizu no oto --Sound of Water


This famous Haiku, written by Japanese Zen poet, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is the inspiration for this colorful, provocative art installation. Out of the timeless serene summer twilight of the old pond comes the “kerplunk” of the frog’s splash. As the Buddha changed with noticing the morning star, we can be transformed by the “kerplunk” of the frog. The lotus is known for its purity and beauty that is born from the mud and muck of the world, frogs are living reminders of rain, fertility, transformation and rebirth. Their well-being is closely linked to that of our environment. Amphibian means 2 lives, (one on land and one on water), most of us have at least 2, some of us many more. Our brains carry the memories from one part of our life to the other and it can be challenging to move through these many lives. Frogs are a great metaphor for these transformations; eggs to polliwogs to froglet to adult frog.

Transformation is the thread that connects and repels. As living beings we change, grow and are transformed by events, relationships, emotions, experiences. Change is constant, this is both difficult and refreshing. In my studio practice I engage with plant fibers that are transformed by heat, water, movement, color and me. These paperworks are all made of plant fibers, they will continue to absorb the moisture in the air, the ambient light and the mood of the viewer.

This old mill is being transformed, this Park is becoming a place of shared experiences, laughter and conversation, music and art, meeting of minds. I am fortunate to be involved in the nourishing life of the people and the plants here. Sheryl Jaffe is an artist, papermaker, swimmer and teacher residing in Ludlow, MA.

COMING SOON- Detail of “What Do You See, Little Frog?” monoprint on artist made handmade paper, 65” x 140”.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

KPC Member Margherita Crystal Lotus Publishes New Coloring Book, Where Heart Touches Matter

Margherita Zondrak is an Intuitive Business Mentor, Author and a Creative Artist working with clients who want to make their heart centered business & life highly successful. She is the author of: The Crystal Lotus Handbook - An Essential Guide to Crystals. Her work in the Khandroling Paper Cooperative involves traditional book arts and product development. For further information visit her website at

Her coloring book. Where Heart Touches Matter is now available from Amazon, here.

[Margherita at work in the paper studio, photo by Jacqueline Gens, 2014]

[Some of Margherita's books made from KPC Papers]

 [Margherita's donated crystal wands in handmade box at KPC]

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mindfulness Origami Program at Khandroling Paper Cooperative and the Lotus Blossom Origami Project

[Small Lotus created at Summer Celebration, August 2016]

Brenda Lilly, a founding member of Khandroling Paper Cooperative and long time resident of Conway, MA  will offer a monthly Mindfulness Origami Club at Tsegyalgar to celebrate our participation in the 250th anniversary of Conway during the summer of 2017. We will be introduced to a variety of forms over the year beginning the second thursday on November 10, 2016 from 5:00-6:30 PM. 

The first meeting  is Thursday, November 10, 5:00-6:30 PM at 18 Schoolhouse Road, Conway, MA 01341 in the LIbrary

[Brenda instructing Francine in the Lotus folds|

Mindfulness is good for our bodies, mind and energy. When you combine mindfulness with Origami, the art of paper folding,  you begin to relax giving your mind a sense of purpose free from distractions. While folding a particular model your awareness and concentration heightens. During the folding process you are  centered while creating something with your hands. Even the simplest fold offers a feeling of fulfillment while allowing your mind to be present in the moment.The end result gives you an awareness of accomplishing something that can raise your self-esteem whether a simple box or a complex challenge. --Brenda Lilly

[Brenda with Diana Sullivan Nancy Paris during Summer Celebration, photo by Kathleen Fekete]

The Lotus Lantern

Brenda's unique lotus with the Mani mantra

Brenda at our first Gallery Show, in Shelburne Falls, MA  2013

Brenda Lilly writes: "Origami has been a personal passion of mine for over 24 years. As an art educator I began learning folds that I could teach to my students. Over time and through influences from other artists I now fold with hand made papers, a variety of simple to complex designs, and incorporate the models into a work of art. The idea of sharing my accumulated knowledge inspires me to infect other people with the magic of creating something 3-dimensional with a flat piece of paper.

[Left to right: Rita Kaiser, Brenda Lilly and Nancy Paris, Summer Celebration, 2016]

[Diana and Jen from Milwaukee photo by Kathleen Fekete, Summer Celebration]

During our Summer Celebration Retreat in August 2016, Dzogchen Community participants had an opportunity to try their hand at making origami Lotus blossoms under KPC member, Brenda Lilly's instruction. The pictures speak for themselves. 

Join us for our monthly mindfulness of origami club 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Japanese Bookmaking Class with Patricia Lehnhardt, Saturday August 27, 2016

WHEN: Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

WHERE: Tsegyalgar Yellow Schoolhouse, Library, 
18 Schoolhouse Road, Conway, MA 

COST: Recommended donation: $25-$50

Pre-register with Jacqueline at or 413-522-1125

In this workshop we will make three different books with Japanese stab binding, using handmade papers for the covers and waxed linen thread or ribbon for the binding. We will do three simple patterns and explore more complex patterns for the more adventurous.

Materials to make three 4” x 7” books:

Heavy paper for the covers—6 pieces 4 x 7-inches
Text paper—36 sheets of 8 ½ x 11” writing paper
4 yards waxed linen thread or ribbon (¼ inch or less}

We will have a variety of handmade papers or bring your favorite and waxed linen threads. Please bring the following equipment:

Straight edge (ruler—preferably metal) for torn edges
craft knife—for cut edges
Awl, Japanese hole punch, or hand drill
Book binding needle for thread or yarn needle for ribbon
2 binder clips (minimum 1 ¼”)

Patricia Lehnhardt Bio:

I have always been fascinated by how things were made and historically produced, especially in the fiber arts. Learning to spin, dye, and weave various fibers lead to making paper with plants that I grow and gather, and ultimately to making books. Now retired after more than forty years in retail (flower shops, restaurants, cooking school and our own tea, herb and antique shop), I have time to delve more deeply into the construction of the book and utilizing my hand dyed and stitched fabrics in the covers.I live with my husband James and cat Chester in Galena, Illinois, where I write, cook, garden, photograph food, and make books.