Chicago Center for Book & Paper Arts

This past weekend on a visit to Chicago I stopped by Columbia College’s Center for Book & Paper Arts to see the current exhibit of Buddhist printing from the Derge Parkhang.

The Derge Parkang (also known as the Derge Sutra Printing Temple) was established in 1729 and is home to more than 300,000 woodblocks used to make copies of sutra (Buddhist teachings), thangka (fabric banners), and other spiritual images.

The exhibit includes examples of fabric and paper woodblock printing, photographs of the woodblock-carving and papermaking processes, hand-carved woodblocks from Derge Parkhang as well as a fascinating video documenting in detail the printing craft practiced at Derge Parkhang.

The prints are beautiful and phenomenally detailed, and the photographs and video really contributed to my appreciation of the prints and their place in the history of printing. I had a wonderful time and highly recommend that logophiles who find themselves in Chicago check this out. The exhibition is called Pearl of the Snowlands, and it runs until December 5, including panel discussions and workshops on November 21 & 22.

Detail of a hand-carved wood block. You can see by the ink that this block has been used for printing, though bare wood still peeks out in places.
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