The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding

Methods, Materials and Regional Varieties. Second Revised Edition


The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding is the first monograph dedicated to the technical development of the bookbinding tradition in the Islamic world. Based on an assessment of the extensive oriental collections in the Leiden University Library, the various sewing techniques, constructions and the application of covering materials are described in great detail. A comparative analysis of the historic treatises on bookbinding provides further insight into the actual making of the Islamic book. In addition, it is demonstrated that variations in time and place can be established with the help of distinctive material characteristics.
Karin Scheper’s work refutes the perception of Islamic bookbinding as a weak structure, which has generally but erroneously been typified as a case-binding. Instead, the author argues how diverse methods were used to create sound structures, thus fundamentally challenging our understanding of the Islamic bookbinding practice.

Karin Scheper has been awarded the De La Court Award 2016 by The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for her study of the bookbinding tradition in the Islamic world.

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Karin Scheper, Ph.D. (Leiden, 2014), is conservation specialist at the Leiden University Library. She has published on various conservation topics, but concentrates on her conservation practice and study of Islamic manuscripts.
Preface to the Second Edition

1 Materiality Matters
A Detailed Sketch of the Current State of Knowledge and Outline of the Research

 The Information Value of Binding Structures
 The Present Situation of the Book Archaeology of Islamic Manuscripts
 Obstacles in the Study of Islamic Bookmaking
 Linking Physical Analysis, Catalogue Data, and Literature
 Selection and Justification of the Corpus

2 The Anatomy of the Islamic Manuscript
A Detailed Overview of the Different Methods of Construction

 Vocabulary and Images as Tools
 Techniques Used to Construct the Textblock
 Covering and Board Attachment
 A Problematic Term: Case-binding
 Other Characteristics
 Meaning and Validity of the Diversity

3 A Comparative Study of the Historic Sources and Recent Literature on the Making of Islamic Manuscripts
 Historic Sources
 Secondary Sources: Related Studies and General Reference Works
 Founders of our Knowledge on the Use of Structure and Materials in Islamic Bookmaking
 Structure as a Starting Point
 Structure as a Side Issue
 Structure as a Conservation Issue
 The Sum of the Parts

4 Multiplicity within the Tradition
n Account of the Methodology and Quantitative Results of the Survey

 Survey Results—Quantitative Analysis

5 Mapping the Variations in Time and Place
Datable and Localisable Features and a Further Interpretation of the Findings

 Interior Covering of the Boards
 The Envelope and Fore-edge Flap
 Miscellaneous Features
 Southeast Asia as a Sub-category in the Islamic Tradition

6 Considerations and New Perspectives
 Development of the Tradition


1 Glossary

2 Corpus

3 Example of a Record of the Database

4 List of Manuscripts Used in Illustrations
All concerned with the preservation or conservation of Islamic manuscripts, and anyone interested in the materiality of Islamic manuscripts and in codicological aspects of the Islamic book.
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