Signed by the Dalai Lama, with contributing authors Robert Thurman, Heather Stoddard, and Jakob Winkler and the beautiful photography of Thomas Laird, this book is clearly unique. Add a $12,000 price tag and you can be sure not everyone on the block has a copy.
The book brings murals from the Himalayan region to you for just a few thousand dollars more than if you went to each of them.
(Slight) joking aside, Managing Editor Florian Kobler explains that these printed images are much better than the original, too, because many of the originals were 9 meters up on ceilings and in poor lighting. Frank Goerhardt notes that the book is over 70 centimeters in height (2 feet), and includes images printed in real gold foil. And Javier Bone-Carbone compares the work to “having the Sistine Chapel unveiled for the first time, plus the most important examples of Christian art through the entire continent of Europe, and all of that assembled in one book…”
The video opens with the reverent chanting of Om Mani Padme Hung… Quick math tells me that the total revenue from the books will be just shy of $12,000,000.
There’s no mention of where all of those funds will go.
Other features of the book, from the Taschen website, include:
- Limited to 998 copies, signed by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
- SUMO Size 50 x 70 cm (19.7 x 27.6 in.)
- 498 pages
- Six fold-outs
- Printed in five colors including gold
- Bookstand designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and humanitarian pioneer Shigeru Ban
- Illustrated 528-page scholarly companion book
The other video for the product more clearly demonstrates the orientalist marketing campaign, describing Tibet as “seen as an island in the sky… a mysterious land, where monks practiced rituals and yoga that led to wisdom and power.” Images include the Dalai Lama signing sheet after sheet – all 998 – and those being loaded up by a slight Indian man and carried delicately on his head through an Indian railway station.
What do you think? Money well spent on cultural preservation? Bourgeois Buddhism at its worst? Will you be buying one? Perhaps holding out for the paperback or pocket-version?
Extra credit: look up Veblen Goods. Is this a Veblen good? Are there others in Buddhism?