Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection

November 26, 2016 - April 3, 2017

Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection is the first major exhibition to examine the subject of Tibetan book covers. For Tibetan Buddhists, books are a divine presence in which the Buddha lives and reveals himself, and they are venerated and handled with the utmost respect. The exhibition features thirty-three book covers dating from the eleventh to the eighteenth century that represent the glorious iconographic array and non-figural decoration typical of these sacred items. The majority of covers in the exhibition are Tibetan Buddhist, but the exhibition also includes a rare Bon-religion cover and two covers from Mongolia, as well as an important pair of covers produced circa 1411 for the Chinese Ming emperor Yongle. Protecting Wisdom presents a stunning visual display that illuminates a virtually unknown type of art, one that will charm and intrigue both those familiar and unfamiliar with Tibetan art.
 
This exhibition was organized by the MacLean Collection and guest curated by Kathryn Selig Brown. 

 

Lead support for Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, and the Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women's Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.
 

Images

“The Four Gods of the Kadam” in Celestial Palaces, outer face, lower book cover, Western Tibet,12th century, wood with paint and gilding. MacLean Collection

The Four Transcendent Lords, outer face, upper cover for a Bon book, Tibet,12th–13th century, wood with gilding. MacLean Collection

The Four Transcendent Lords, outer face, upper cover for a Bon book, Tibet,12th–13th century, wood with gilding. MacLean Collection

Shakyamuni, outer face, upper book cover, vol. 1, Tibet,14th–15th century,
wood with traces of paint and gilding, MacLean Collection

Prajnaparamita, Shakyamuni, and Vairochana, inner and outer faces, upper cover for a Prajnaparamita Sutra, vol. 1, Tibet, first half of the 15th century, wood with paint and gilding. MacLean Collection

Prajnaparamita, Shakyamuni, and Vairochana, inner and outer faces, upper cover for a Prajnaparamita Sutra, vol. 1, Tibet, first half of the 15th century, wood with paint and gilding. MacLean Collection

Dramze Demchog Nyingpo, inner face, upper book cover, Tibet, early 15th century, wood with paint and gilding. MacLean Collection

Vase of Plenty and Four Symbols of Good Fortune, outer faces, upper and lower book covers for a Prajnaparamita Sutra, China, circa 1411, red lacquer with engraved gold decoration on wood. MacLean Collection

Vase of Plenty and Four Symbols of Good Fortune, outer faces, upper and lower book covers for a Prajnaparamita Sutra, China, circa 1411, red lacquer with engraved gold decoration on wood. MacLean Collection

Timeline

Exhibition Timeline

SatNov 26
Exhibition Opens
Sun
Jan 29
Handheld Sculpture: An Introduction to Tibetan Book Covers
3:00pm4:30pm
Artists and Curators / Exhibitions Related
Sun
Feb 5
Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection
2:00pm3:00pm
Gallery Talks and Tours
Sat
Feb 18
Storytime at the Museum
11:15am12:00pm
Family / Gallery Talks and Tours
Sun
Mar 12
Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection
2:00pm3:00pm
Gallery Talks and Tours
Sat
Mar 25
Family Art Studio: Handheld Sculptures from Tibet
11:00am1:00pm
Artmaking / Exhibitions Related / Family
Sat
Mar 25
Family Art Studio: Handheld Sculptures from Tibet
2:00pm4:00pm
Artmaking / Exhibitions Related / Family
Sun
Mar 26
In Conversation: Framing the Word of the Buddha, with Donald Lopez
3:00pm4:00pm
Exhibitions Related / Gallery Talks and Tours
Sun
Apr 2
Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection
2:00pm3:00pm
Gallery Talks and Tours
MonApr 3
Exhibition Closes