The conservation of 48 Islamic manuscripts undertaken in the conservation workshop of the Vatican Library, brought their numerous repairs to attention. Many were identifiable as having been done in the region where the manuscripts originated. This article presents the considerations that informed the conservation approach. After an overview of recent discussions about the meaning of repairs to Islamic bindings, the methodology used to analyze the manuscripts and their bindings is described. This is followed by a general introduction to the manuscripts, the results of the material and structural analysis of the bindings and an overview of the different types of repair. The influence their analysis had on the conservation decisions will be illustrated using several examples that underline both the possibilities and limits that conservation poses to the objective of preserving the complete history of the book.
Baydar, Nil, “Structural Features and Conservation Problems of Turkish Manuscripts and Suggestions for Solutions,” in Works of Art on Paper: Books, Documents and Photographs: Techniques and Conservation: Contributions to the Baltimore Congress, 2–6 September 2002, eds. Vincent Daniels, Alan Donnithorne and Perry Smith (London: International Institute for Conservation, 2002), 9–10. The remarks made referred particularly to the situation in Turkey, but given the dearth of available literature, it held true for the wider international conservation community.
Rose, Kristine, “Conservation of the Turkish Collection at the Chester Beatty Library: A New Study of Turkish Book Construction,” in Studies in Conservation, vol. 55, supplement 2 (2010), 47–48. Although observed previously, this feature had never been properly elaborated. Hans van der Horst of De Eenhoorn Binderij—my teacher while I studied book and paper conservation at the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage—mentioned it to me in autumn 2005. We observed it on at least one binding in the Leiden University Library. I have a photograph of a detail of that binding. Less than a year later, while an intern at the British Library (July–December 2006), my supervisor Mariluz Beltran de Guevara showed it to me on an Islamic binding she had treated. Katherine Beaty also mentioned it in her 2005 student paper: Beaty, Katherine, “21st c. Remedies to 19th c. Repairs of an 18th c. Koran: Materials Analysis, Treatment, and Housing,” in ANAGPIC 2005 Student Papers. Presented at the 2005 Annual Student Conference hosted by the Buffalo State College Art Conservation Department, 4. More recently, Karin Scheper mentioned the seventeenth-century travel journal Voyages en Perse, et autres lieux d’ Orient by Jean Chardin (Amsterdam: Jean Louis de Lorme, 1711) in which he describes the use of this technique by Persian bookbinders. Scheper (2015), 96, 198–199 and 371.
Scheper, Karin, “Islamic Manuscripts in a Western Research Library: The Conservation Approach of Leiden University Library,” in Care and Conservation of Manuscripts 12. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Seminar held at the University of Copenhagen 14th–16th October 2009, ed. Matthew James Driscoll (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2011), 161.
Benson, Jake, “Satisfying an Appetite for Books: Innovation, Production, and Modernization in Later Islamic Bookbinding,” in Persian Language, Literature and Culture. New leaves and fresh looks, ed. Kamran Talattoff, (London, New York: Routledge, 2015), 373–375.
Schmidt, Jan, “Manuscripts and Their Function in Ottoman Culture; The Fatatri Collection in the Leiden University Library,”Journal of Turkish Studies, vol. 28/1 (2004), 359. Since 2006, the references in Schmidt’s article can be viewed in the online Leiden inventories by Jan Just Witkam, mostly in volumes 12 and 13, at http://www.islamicmanuscripts.info/inventories/leiden/index.html.
Schmidt, Jan, “The Republic of Letters in Seventeenth-century Istanbul”, in Turcksche boucken. De oosterse verzameling van Levinus Warner, Nederlands diplomaat in zeventiende-eeuws Istanbul. The Oriental Collection of Levinus Warner, Dutch Diplomat in Seventeenth-century Istanbul, Arnoud Vrolijk, Jan Schmidt and Karin Scheper (Eindhoven: Lecturis, 2012), 132–133.
Merheb, Maxime et al., “Molecular Species Identification in Processed Animal Hides for Biodiversity Protection,” in International Journal of Advances in Chemical Engineering and Biological Sciencesvol. 1, no. 1 (2014), 55–57.