Hanuman Book Covers

     

     

When editor/publisher Raymond Foye was visiting his good friend Francesco Clemente, the artist, in Madras, India, once, they decided it would be very cool to publish some sort of arts and literature thing together. They rejected the idea of doing a magazine in favor of starting a small press to publish books (Foye had started working at City Lights bookstore and press at the beginning of his career). Hanuman was the favorite Hindu deity of both men, and they decided to name their press after him. The Hanuman Books series, which includes at least 24 titles by now, has published works by William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Jack Kerouac, William de Kooning, Robert Frank and other visionary and countercultural writers and artists. The tiny format of the books -- they measure 3" by 4" in size -- is based on prayer books in India. They are hand-made in India, where each little book is colored with deeply saturated tones to produce a limited edition that resonates with the charm and mystical potency of art miniatures around the world. And the books are easy to slip into your pocket and carry around as a sort of talismanic artifact, if that is your inclination, too.

     

     

Hanuman is a very popular deity among Hindus. There are many stories about this trickster god. In addition to being the god of grammar, Hanuman is the general of the monkey people. In the epic Ramayana Rama was a great human hero, the son of a king, who eventually became mythologized as an avatar of the important deity Vishnu. When Rama's beautiful and exemplary wife Sita was kidnapped by a powerful demon, Ravana, Hanuman and his monkey people were instrumental in freeing her from captivity on the island of Lanka. The visionary lit and counter-culture press Hanuman Books is named in honor of this delightful figure. According to a blurb posted on Hanuman Books' website, Hanuman is "the son of Vayu, the wind god. He is the conqueror of demons and hostile spirits, god of strength and wisdom, faithful to friend and unselfish servant to Rama. Able to fly and change his shape, he is often depicted as a buffoon-hero in the Ramayana epics. Humble and playful, he is revered in Southern India, where temples are erected in his honor."

  

I've been collecting these books for a while now and have about a dozen. They're small. Roughly the size of a pack of smokes and about 1/4 as thick. The content is a bit lucid. They've been selling on ebay from $30 - $200 bucks a pop.

Text via: JX Briton | Images via: Vernacula
Categories: Books, Book Art, Book Covers, art