The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

Documents as artefacts

Simon Wickhamsmith

Reviewed publication:
Helman-Ważny, A. 2014. The Archaeology of Tibetan Books, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 97890042

For someone who has spent time consumed by the craft of making paper, in Tibetan Studies scholarship, and who has lived as a monk in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery (albeit a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Scotland), The Archaeology of Tibetan Books provides fascinating insights into the science, aesthetics and tradition of making books in Tibet. Helman-Ważny’s approach is exhaustive, and it is her ability to make engrossing even the most detailed and painstaking analysis of manuscripts as the physical manifestation of fibre and ink that renders her book essential to the study, not only of Tibetan material culture and textuality, but of Tibetan culture as a whole.