A Font of Pilgrims

Clifton Meador, Kora (Chicago, Illinois: Clifton Meador, 2007). Edition of 50. Graphic Arts collection GAX 2008- in process

Colophon: “These pictures were taken at the Dege Parkhang, a printing temple located in Ganze Autonomous Prefecture in western China, in August of 2006, with support from a Faculty Development Grant from Columbia College Chicago. This book is part of a larger project about the Parkhang developed by Patrick Dowdey….The figures are line drawings from the photographs, now converted into a font, so the pilgrims have literally turned into language, at least in this book.”

The Dege Parkhang printing temple, survivor of weather and wars, has become the largest concentration of Tibetan literature in the world — thousands of books preserved as wooden printing blocks. Printing is still carried out with these blocks every day weather permits.

Pilgrims, circumambulating the exterior of the temple, some carrying prayer wheels their mantras spinning into the ether, are performing kora — an act of devotion and honor to the books housed therein.

Meador’s book posits the possibility that the pilgrims through this act of worship become the literature, or at least the language that gives the books life.

Clifton Meador is the Director of Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College, Chicago http://www.colum.edu/BookandPaper/Faculty/Clifton_Meador.php