REVIEW: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection

A Tibetan book cover featuring carvings of three divine figures and intricate decal, coated in gold-colored paint. Photo courtesy of the Crow Collection website

I had never thought of book covers as anything besides dusty, worn out blankets that hugged pages of a story together, but the special exhibit at the UMMA proved me wrong. Being the first ever exhibit in the United States to showcase Tibetan book covers, Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection, this collection is currently on display until April 2 of 2017, and so I took the opportunity to visit.

Expecting to see 8 x 11 cardboard covers encased in cloth or leather, I was greeted by wooden covers that measured two feet wide and about a foot tall; 33 or so of these were either situated on the gallery walls or in showcases. As I made my way through the gallery, I took in the intricacies of these Tibetan treasures: multiple gods were carved into these covers along with dragons, peacocks, floral decals, and so on. Paint in hues of gold, red, and green embellished the slabs of wood. Some of the detailing was so intricate that the cover was designed by several people.

Tibetan book cover
Photo courtesy of the Crow Collection website
Tibetan book cover
Photo courtesy of the Crow Collection website

The elaborate nature of these book covers is understood through its purpose. For Tibetan Buddhists, books are a divine presence where the Buddha lives and reveals himself, and so to honor him, detailed book covers were frequently commissioned. Tibetan book cover design has a history of more than a thousand years, and so these covers date back from anywhere in the 11th century to the 18th century. A gem of the exhibit is a wonderfully carved and painted book cover from the early 1290s.

I left the exhibit with a newfound respect for the art of designing book covers, especially the Tibetan book covers created by Buddhists. This exhibit is currently on display until the 2nd of April from 8:00am to 5:00pm from Tuesdays through Sundays, so please come out to view this gallery!

REVIEW: The Perks of Being a Wallflower: My 13 yearold self jumping up and down

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written by Stephen Chbosky, was published in 1999. I read it for the first time in 2002 while in 7th grade and proceeded to read it at least 14 more times after. This book is well known in many preteen and teenage circles and is likely to pass from one friend to another with few words on the lips other than: “You have to read this book.”

Chbosky wrote a wonderful coming of age story, set somewhere outside Pittsburgh during the early 1990s. It is filled with mixed tapes, novels, clothing styles, life struggles, relationships and one young boy’s struggle with past painful experiences.

The film, which came out October 12, 2012 was adapted and directed by Chbosky. His writing translated very well to the screen and his original vision seemed to remain in this visual representation. Due to this format, Chbosky seemed to be able to take some of the book’s more delicately hinted concepts to a different level. He did a very nice job of portraying high school life in the 90’s with all the common themes of premature senses of adulthood and self-awareness.

The story is narrated in the form of letters by Charlie (played by Logan Lerman). A young boy starting his first day of high school. From the beginning he mentions a time when “things were bad.” His struggles and pains gradually become clear to us over the course of the film (I really don’t want to say too much about this because it was so well introduced in the film I feel I would be taking something away from you!) He becomes friends with a group of seniors, specifically Patrick and Sam (played by Ezra Miller and Emma Watson) who introduce him to music, style, a social life and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Many typical teenage complications occur, loves gained and lost, bad girlfriend habits, abusive and cheating boyfriends and some other not so common life experiences, mostly in Charlie’s past . . . the “bad times.”

It had been at least 7 years since the last time I read this book but it’s content still sticks to me. I spent the last 15 minuted of this movie with tears running down my cheeks. As did all the other teenage girls sitting in the theater with me! 🙂

Not only is this story beautifully constructed, it is also excellently adapted for the screen. The characters are likable and as difficult as some of the life truths may be they are all important to recognize and acknowledge.

For those of you who have read this book, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. For those who have not, please go experience this film!

Another great thing about this movie, the soundtrack was excellently constructed. Much of the book is dedicated to talking about music. They did a very nice job of involving this theme in the film.

The Film:

The Book:

The Music: