Friday, June 15, 2007

The Middle Kingdom Great Book

In the 1980s, various talented artists and artisans in the Middle Kingdom were commissioned to produce the Great Book of the Middle Kingdom, a hand-bound illuminated manuscript with the kingdom's important ceremonies and lists of sovereigns, etc. I gather one of the original ideas was to produce something that would actually be toted around to kingdom events for ceremonial use, so the Dragon Herald wasn't reading out of an ordinary binder. But inevitably, the book was quickly perceived as one of the, perhaps the, superlative treasure of the kingdom, and was eventually housed in the Western Michigan University Library's Rare Books Room.

To my mind, this is one of the more splendid and interesting projects in the kingdom's history. It includes some of the finest work of many of our Laurels and other talented artists, it more closely resembles a de luxe medieval object for court use than most reproductions we use, and the illumination is gorgeous. It has a wooden case to protect the book and a leather case to carry the case. The work of artists no longer active or gone with new kingdoms are reproduced forever with the item.

The artwork is now reproduced at the Middle Kingdom web site, more or less in full, with explanatory pictures and the entire text. It can be viewed here.

Now, I would pay quite a lot for a hardbound reproduction in a modern binding, personally. I hope that will someday be done.

1 comment:

Femke said...

Better still, when Felix was last on the throne there was talk of comissioning a "Volume 2" of the Book to bring it's history of the Kingdom up to date. I haven't heard any more about it lately, but such wheels turn slowly.