Illuminated: The Art of Sacred Books

The Rubin Museum, New York City, 04/06/2012-09/03/2012

The exhibition focuses on physical aspects of sacred books and draws attention to their patronage and their significance as religious objects. The show explores aesthetic and technological approaches toward creating and adorning the sacred books found across cultures and presents Tibetan sacred books in a broader cross-cultural context.

Among the objects on view are illuminated Tibetan manuscript pages and complete books dating as early as the 13th century, written in gold and silver on dark blue and black paper of various sizes in the traditional Tibetan book format, which are shown along with a bifolio of the famous “Blue Qur’an” written in gold on indigo colored velum in Tunisia in the 9th-10th century, a Japanese Buddhist Sutra scroll written in gold on indigo paper in 1720, medieval Gospels written in gold letters on blue and purple parchment; illuminated pages of Jain Sutras and illustrated Indian Hindu classics.

In addition to these various lavishly decorated books of different faiths, created in diverse formats and materials the exhibition also includes adorned book covers, painted or carved from wood, made of leather or silver repoussé, and other objects, which the people who thoughtfully created, used, appreciated, and passed them on directly or by implication designated as sacred, recognizing their value as objects of art as well as devotion.

Curated by Elena Pakhoutova

  • April 6, 2012