The book-of-the-week this week is Beyond the Garden Gate 2014. This book is a map of a backyard garden. It's a hand-drawn sketch of the backyard plat here at Orange Lantern Press... made over nearly a month of planting from March 22, 2014 to April 17, 2014... and accompanied by snapshots of the garden plots taken on April 20, 2014. The title plate is a photograph of the garden gate leading to the backyard. The title was printed on the letterpress in Boul Mich. typeface. The snapshots are glued onto a piece of paste paper with a garden motif.
|the cover with its title plate...|
The accordion-style book is bound by an ancient technique called a slat book or palm leaf book. Palm leaf manuscripts are found in Indian, Nepalese, and Southeast Asian culture and religions. The leaves of either the palmyra or talipot trees have most often been used for palm leaf books. The palmyra leaf, thick and inflexible, can become brittle, and most ancient texts are long gone. The thinner more flexible talipot has lasted as long as 600 years.
|ancient palm leaf book|
In Orissa, a state of India on the Bay of Bengal, palm leaf manuscripts are part of both historical and modern culture. The illustrations on palm leaf books are mainly of two types, simple engravings or illustrations in pure line on palm leaf and engraving with colour fillings. In these engravings, colours are muted and play a very minor part. Where colours are at all applied, they are just painted either to emphasize the inscriptions, or to fill up blank space. Today, the ancient art of palm leaf writing still survives. Religious texts continue to be read out from palm leaf manuscripts rather than from printed books. Horoscopes, too, are traditionally written on palm leaves by professional horoscope makers known as nahakas. The palm leaf was considered so sacred that even after printing presses began operating, important texts continued to be printed on the leaves instead of paper.
|Palm leaf illustrations from Orissa, India|
Beyond the Garden Gate 2014 stands up on its stiff board slats like a folding screen. On the backside (or outside) are photographs of the actual garden taken this morning (April 20, 2014). Two green glass beads are threaded into the midpoint of two lengths of waxed linen thread that connect the slats. These beads also serve as the closure mechanism when the book is folded up and the loose ends of the waxed thread is wound around them.
|all folded out...|
On the inside of the slat book is the map drawing of the garden. It is annotated with the dates of planting, dates of sprouting, and transplanting dates. Other items in the yard like the hammock, a large tree stump, and the sewer valve are also drawn on the map...and annotated to show their placement.
|a map of the garden|
Annotated texts are interwoven with the primary source text in order to make a book more reader-friendly or to include pertinent notes for a study guide. The goal of an annotated text is to facilitate reading and comprehension of the source media. Some famously annotated books include: Sylvia Plath's copy of The Great Gatsby, Mark Twain’s annotations to the title page of Plutarch’s Lives of Illustrious Men, and Vladimir Nabokov’s copy of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. (http://flavorwire.com/394100/classic-books-annotated-by-famous-authors/view-all) Whether you are pro altered-books genre, or anti-... annotations are another layer in a narrative... a sort of whisper of the personal story of the reader... a behind-the-scenes subplot.
However, other than the cats (Charlemagne and Louis) lurking around... there isn't much intrigue in this week's book. The sunny photos of the budding new plants in their newly turned weed-free soil beds and snug under their golden straw blankets... are all about a cheerful, upbeat, flourishing... Spring!
garden gate photos... an Easter Basket of colors!
A closer look of the photos on the book...
pea bed by the fireplace and herb garden on the brick path
kitty cats, parsley and garden pots...
A closer look at the drawings on the map...
peas, onions, herbs, peppers...seedlings
pole beans, kale, tomatoes, beets...
There's always some place of inspiration.. some seed...