Book: Buddhas, Bohisattvas, Khadromas, and the Way of the Pilgrim: A Transformative Book of Photography and Pithy Sayings
Orange Palm Publications Inc. 2007, 205 pages
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0973443987/?tag=askdrarca-20
This is a large ‚Äúcoffee table‚Äù style art book that is in a consistent format throughout. On the right-hand page is a full-page photo of some Buddha, Bodhisattva, or Khadroma. On the left-hand page are two or three ‚Äúpithy sayings‚Äù written in English, French and Italian. There are also two or three small photos on the left-hand page, usually of different views of the same subject from the right-hand page. Although there are a few photos of humans, and a handful of paintings, the vast majority of photos are of statues, idols, and sculptures.
The book has a high-quality hard cover and the pages are made of sturdy, glossy paper that really shows the desire to make this a long-lasting and durable keepsake. The images, especially the full-page ones, are astounding. Extremely colorful and sharp, most of these just exude history and reverence. Some of the art looks well-maintained and new, while many are flaking paint or are otherwise showing their age. Some are so old that the faces and features are gone. Buddhism is up to 2500 years old, and there is real history shown here. Whether the images are Buddha, a bodhisattva, a mythical daemon, or a painting of a legendary figure, you know that each image has a wondrous story to tell.
Unfortunately, that story isn’t told. The ‚Äúpithy‚Äù sayings, while wise in themselves, have little to do with the images. Do you really like the images on the page you are looking at? Well good luck identifying it; there is no list of sources, no explanation, no titles, not even a name or location for any of the images. They sure are pretty pictures, but there is no way to identify any of them. What the publishers were thinking when they decided to leave everything unidentified, I cannot fathom. The only reason I can imagine for this lack is that due to the triple-language translations of everything, it might have complicated things somewhat.
I will admit that I am not a student of Eastern art, but there were very few images here that I recognized; these are not the same old photos of Buddha that you’ve seen elsewhere, which makes the lack of labeling even more galling. If you enjoy sculpture or photography, and want to see some really beautiful photos of ancient art that you very possibly haven’t seen before, then give this one a look. The photos really are outstanding.
Bottom Line: Beautiful, but essentially useless as a reference.