Tibetan Manuscripts and Early printed Books, by Matthew T. Kapstein

Softcover, 2 volumes, 368+288 pages, color illustrations, 2024, new

In Tibetan Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, Volume I, Matthew T. Kapstein and an international team of specialists provide a comprehensive introduction to the material and aesthetic features of the wide range of Tibetan books, described in detail and illustrated with copious full-color photographs.

With a documented history of over thirteen centuries, Tibetan books have long served as a medium of culture and learning throughout Central and East Asia. Major collections of Tibetan manuscripts and printed books—for Tibetan works were put into print even before the age of Gutenberg—are found in libraries and museums far from the traditional centers of Tibetan learning. Yet the history, production, and design of these works remain poorly understood.

Topics covered in volume I include the manufacture of paper and ink, format and layout, scripts and scribal conventions, illumination and decoration, woodblock printing, book storage, preservation, and the use of contemporary digital technologies for the documentation of traditional works. Volume I of Tibetan Manuscripts and Early Printed Books is an essential resource for all students of Tibetan civilization, as well as for scholars, collectors, and others interested in the diverse book cultures of Asia.

Tibetan Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, Volume II explores the major categories of traditional Tibetan books, introducing their specific features and the main approaches to their study. In five major sections, it surveys manuscript collections including Buddhist scriptural canons, official and administrative documents, works on technical subjects—medicine, veterinary practice, liturgical chant, and the arts of divination—and Tibetan books from China and Mongolia. Two case studies exemplify the roles of paleographic and iconographic analysis in the examination of antique manuscripts.

Like volume I, the second volume of Tibetan Manuscripts and Early Printed Books has been written by the foremost experts in the field, whose wide-ranging essays are illustrated with numerous full-color images of original works. Addressing students and scholars of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan history and culture in their varied dimensions, this volume will also interest scholars and other readers oriented more broadly to the global history of the book.

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