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spirituality 08.pdf

spirituality 08.pdf

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Published by Francisco Ascencio

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Published by: Francisco Ascencio on Feb 06, 2013
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spirituality - lesson 8: ex libris
ex-libris by austin osman spare (left 1908, right 1909)
 books are perceived as a vehicle to knowledge, coupled with the fact that in pasttimes only a few people could read well, those in possession of books were seenas highly powerful individuals, with access to a level of reality that others didn't.monasteries and churches of every religion owned some of the biggest libraries,making them the primary sources of information and culture at the time.before the invention of the printing press the production of a single book was along and difficult endeavor. the skin of sheep, goat or calve would have to betreated, stretched and dried, then cut and formed into sheets. a book like thebible might have taken over 200 hides to create the pages. scribes, a special fewwho were able write, would painstakingly transcribe the books, with elaboratedetails, then on top of that there was the craftsmanship of binding of the book.this whole arduous process meant that quite obviously books were expensiveand libraries rare. even with the invention of paper in 750AD in china theaccumulation of books in a library was an expensive business .
'to steal this book closes the gates of heaven, and to destroy it opens the gates of hell. anyone who takes this book without permission will be punished by all the gods of japan.' 
- an inscription on the book-seal of the daigoji temple, circa 1470.books are cherished and cared for. to academics and intellectuals books havealways been of huge importance, not only for the knowledge they provide butalso what theyr eflect about the owner. they are a source of pride and constantpleasure.there is something great about lending someone a book, sharing someknowledge, or simply entertainment with a friend, letting them participate in atreasured pleasure. but have you ever lent a book and never got it back? acommon and annoying occurrence even today, but perhaps with less urgencythan in the 14th century. as we have established, books were expensive and
therefore tempting objects to steal. one way to solve this was to chain them totables, but another solution offered a far more interesting and creativeopportunity.'from the library of...' the earliest example of 'ex libris' is that of amenophis III inegypt. the small ceramic plate dates back to about 1390 AD, and would havebeen attached to papyrus scrolls declaring them to be a part of amenophis'library. however the origins of ex libris as we understand them today - in the formof paper bookplates - are found in germany during the 15th century and have along history.these tokens of ownership were all hand painted onto small pieces of fine paper (a universal size that would fit all books) and then carefully pasted into them.of course, the arrival of the gutenberg printing press in 1455 changed everything.now people could create bigger libraries and with this there were more books tomark. having all the items decorated by hand would have been hugely costlytherefore engraving and wood cut printed batches would be made and pastedinto each volume, some being hand painted as well to enhance beauty. on paper thin enough so that the front cover can lay flat. batches of 50 to 100 eachnumbered and sighed by the artist.
by gregor rabinovitch circa 1910s 
by emil d.j. doeple for wilheimi II circa 1895 by axel father, 1998 

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