Ancient Chinese Miniature

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Ancient Chinese Miniature

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“Overnight on Abiding-Integrity River” ~ an unfolding poem

  • Miniature book, handmade by Emily Hancock
  • 2-inches square, by a half-inch thick
  • Text hand-set & letterpress printed
  • Book assembled from beautiful papers, including Nepalese Lokta, Thai Unryu, and Magnani Pescia
  • Edition of 21 books

Ancient Chinese poetry has long been an enjoyment of mine, particularly poems translated by David Hinton. And a favorite author that Hinton translates beautifully is the early T’ang Dynasty poet Meng Hao-jan (689-740 C.E.)

The poem by early T'ang Dynasty poet Meng Hao-jan, from "The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-jan," translated by David Hinton (Archipelago Books)

One of Meng’s crystalline four-line poems struck me as a lovely candidate for a miniature book. At 2-inches square and a half-inch thick, this unfolding journey is small in size but large in scope. Meng’s linked, sensory lines seemed to naturally suit themselves to a linked, tactile format.

I set the poem in metal type, printed it on my trusted foot-treadled Golding press, and cut-and-assembled the paper pieces by hand to form the book. It’s a very limited edition — just 21 books.