Tibetan Book Covers

The informant is 59 years old and was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas. Although she is not Buddhist herself, she works at a museum and learns a lot about the religious beliefs. She describes a very important folk artifact that has been preserved throughout time in effort to tell a story of the Buddha.


Nancy: “What I’m talking about now are Tibetan book covers. Tibetan book covers are made of wood and they’re about maybe four inches by twelve inches, something like that, a rectangular shape. They, uh enclosed- so you have several of them- they enclosed scrolls that were, uh the products of uh monks who had written out the Sutras of the Buddha, the teachings of the Buddha. These books covers would be bound by beautiful silks and everything tightly formed and they would be stored in, you know, virtually libraries of these boxes or covers, and they continued to exist until the cultural revolution of the communist Chinese. This would be years like 1960’s-70’s something like that where anything that was old was no longer revered. It was a complete upheaval of the culture that uh respected, uh age and respected elders and so on. So those sutras and pieces were destroyed and what remains are these wood covers, and this is what has been collected by some people, and are now going to be displayed in a exhibition at the Crow Collection.”


This was a lot of new, interesting information about a folk object meaningful to a specific religious group. These Tibetan book covers have survived many periods of history that have served to create their story, and I think it is important to preserve these objects so that people (Buddhists especially) are able to learn more about their culture and connect through these special artifacts. The books indicate that the people valued sutras of the Buddha, perhaps striving to live by his teachings. Because the sutras have been destroyed and we are no longer able to access certain information, the sacred wood covers are necessary for preservation and protection.