Thursday, December 27, 2012

Three more knots tied

1. Finished reading Life Along the Silk Road. It took much longer than I would have liked, and wasn't the smoothest read, but paper showed up a lot in there. I absolutely love the shoe and its design pictured inside. Fancy people could afford to line soles with paper!

2. Donated to Vaya Cuba. Steve works HARD to work on incredible collaborative book projects every year in Cuba.

3. Donated to Hand Papermaking. The only publication of its kind in the field, and they provide other wonderful services to papermakers worldwide.

Now I'm dreading the backlog of digital images that I need to archive online. I used to be better at doing this as I shot, but now it's as unfun as cleaning the bathroom. Which reminds me of one of the more entertaining paper stories from the book:
   After many years of study Fengda accrued sufficient knowledge to try his hand at calculating a calendar. It was 924 and he prepared the manuscript himself, complete with drawings of the Plough constellation. In subsequent years he employed scribes to copy his calendars, but they had to reuse old paper. Fine paper made in central China was rare and expensive, and even local paper was sometimes hard to find. As a result, paper was rarely thrown away, particularly not if it was inscribed with scriptural texts, for these made the piece of paper a sacred object worthy of reverence in itself. When a monk discovered that inscribed paper was being used in the privies of the Chinese imperial palace, he was mortified and wrote a poem to vent his feelings:

    Confucian scholars study the Five Classics, Buddhist scholars the Three Baskets,
    Confucians are considered to observe the proper ritual and to be filial and loyal, and so they are chosen as officials.
    Yet in their examinations they use the same characters as those used to write the Buddhist sutras.
    Some of them do not think of this and they disparage the sacred texts of Buddhism, using them as paper for the privy.
    Their sins are as numerous as the grains of sand in the River Ganges, and many lives of repentance will not be sufficient to erase them.
    Their bodies will sink for five hundred ages; they will forever be condemned to the life of insects in the night-soil pit.

    We do not know whether Fengda used paper for such purposes, but in 928 while looking for a suitable sheet for one of his compositions, he came across his youthful poem and appended a short note: 'This was written in my youth, when I could hardly manage the way. . . . I was but twenty years when I composed it. This year, happening upon the poem again, I am overcome with shame.'


  1. fengda and i are both embarrassed by our youthful exhortations. and i thought i was always right.

  2. onesmallstitch4:27 PM

    I can't/won't remember back that far!! the book covers are perfect.


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