19 March 2008
It's been a while since I last posted. Been working the learning curve at etsy.com!
An interesting thing happened yesterday that I want to write about. I have a Google alert set up for the word "woodblock" and yesterday I was alerted to a blog post by writer/author Karen Coates that turned out to be a post about Tibet mentioning woodblock-printed Tibetan prayer flags. I've been following the recent news stories about the demonstrations in Tibet and feeling the familiar "what can I possibly do?" feeling. But after reading Karen's post it struck me that there are local actions I can take. Regular readers of this blog will recall that the Dalai Lama came to my town last spring. During his visit I became aware that there's a fairly large (100 or so) population of Tibetans in my area, so I decided to go to the local Tibetan store and talk with the owners.
What I discovered is that this is a very emotional time for the Tibetans. They have a feeling of now-or-never prompted by the Chinese hosting of the Olympics and the plan to carry the torch through Tibet. Many feel confused, afraid, frustrated, angry, very sad and also resolute. And they are deeply encouraged and moved and heartened when the wider community listens to them, when we extend our support.
So I bought some prayer flags to hang on my third floor porch. As I was paying for them, I said to the shop keeper, "these are printed by woodblock, right?" She smiled and brought me to a corner of the store and there I saw a small collection of woodblocks, still smelling of printers ink. One large one really captivated me, so I bought it. Take a look:
Pretty, isn't it? I might use it as part of a larger print sometime.
If you have neighbors or community members who are Tibetan, now would be an excellent time to reach out to them. I hope you will. To learn more about Tibet:
The web site of the Tibetan government in exile
Phayul, a news portal with focus on Tibet