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[BKARTS] Contemporary Mayan Books
In the heart of Chiapas ? an ancestral home of the
Mayan people ? in a town defined by 16th Century
Spanish Colonial buildings, Taller Lenateros (The
Woodlander?s Workshop), an indigenous book and paper
cooperative, has been creating innovative and engaging
handmade books for over thirty years. I am hugely
impressed with the artistic vision and technical skill
that permeates each book. Last month they sent a box
of books for sale to collectors in the United States.
All of the copies were quickly snapped up and they
have sent a second box. Don?t miss this opportunity to
acquire a thoroughly original artist book at a
reasonable price, and to support an important group of
bookmakers. There are photos at
Here are the books that were sent:
Every page is a dazzling burst of color. Stunning
graphics and text in Tzotzil (one of the Mayan
dialects still spoken) and English are inspired by the
oral literature of Mayan Mexico and the ancient songs
of the Bolom Chon (an antique Mayan spell that is open
to many interpretations).
The outstanding features include:
? Offset printing with additional silk-screening and
other decorations added.
? A ferocious pop-up centerfold Jaguar with a
maguey-fiber tongue and whiskers.
? Historical and cultural background information.
? An audio CD with several versions of the song, Bolom
? A colophon with the signature, animal glyph, or
thumbprint of every artist.
? Covers made mostly from recycled cardboard boxes
mixed with coffee, and printed on an 1895 Chandler &
Price letterpress. Or, as the cooperative explains,
?The handmade paper cover was stepped onto by the
Bolom Chon so its footprints remained as a testimony
of its passing through the world.?
? A bright yellow, Jaguar-spotted silk-screened
corrugated-board carrying case.
? Book size: 8 1/4?H x 8?W.
? Price: $65
If you want a deluxe version, there are a few copies
left of the original limited edition of Bolom Chon.
The big difference is that instead of being offset
printed, all of the pages are original woodblock and
silk-screened prints. Only 99 Tzotzil/English, 50
Tzotzil/Spanish, and 20 Tzotzil/Japanese (a remarkable
book!) copies were produced. The cost is $275 and it
takes an additional two weeks to get one of these
Incantations by Mayan Women:
Reviewed in the New York Times, this anthology of
contemporary Mayan women?s songs and magic spells in
Tzotzil and English is illustrated with 70 original
silk-screens by contemporary Mayan artists. This book
is currently on exhibition at the National Museum of
Women?s Art in Washington DC, as part of the permanent
collection. It has a bas-relief mask on the cover, and
comes in a beautiful handmade box lined with handmade
paper. 150 Mayan women worked for over 30 years to
create this treasure. 10 5/8? Square, 296 pages, $150.
Portable Mayan Altar:
A case in the form of a traditional Mayan house opens
to create an altar with a clay incense burner, tiny
colored candles, 2 candle holders in the form of
animals, and three small ?Pocket Hex? books (2 1/2? x
4 ?), profusely illustrated with spirit paintings by
contemporary Mayan artists: Hex to Kill the Unfaithful
Man, Mayan Love Charms, and Magic for a Long. You?ve
never seen a book like this before! $65.
As mentioned in earlier posts to the Book Arts List,
the cost of shipping books internationally using a
reliable source is expensive. However, because these
books were shipped in bulk, the cost per book has been
greatly reduced to about $15/book and is included in
the price. Shipping a book to an address in the USA is
additional: $5.00 for first book, and the actual
postage for two or more books.
Taller Lenateros is the only publishing house in
Mexico run by Mayan artists. Founded in 1975 by poet
Ambar Past, the Workshop is located in San Cristobal
de Las Casas. Among its objectives are the
documentation, praise, and dissemination of Amerindian
cultural values in song, literature, plastic arts, and
the Mesoamerican tradition of painted books. The
Lenateros have produced the first books to be written,
illustrated and bound (in paper of their own making)
by Mayan people in over 400 years. The Workshop
foments artistic creation among the most marginalized
communities and benefits the ecology by recycling
agricultural and industrial wastes in order to create
crafts and objects of art.
If you have any questions or need more information,
please call me at (914) 663-9366 or email:
ed@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx All of these titles (except as
noted above) are currently in stock, but they are
expected to be purchased quickly. They are imaginative
books and they can be a valued part of your library if
you act now.
PS: Please email me off list if you would like to
receive future snail-mail postings.
COMING SOON, The Bonefolder, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2008 at
For all your subscription questions, go to the
Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information