The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding

Methods, Materials and Regional Varieties

Series:

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 current 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 The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding!

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EUR €143.00USD $188.00

Biographical Note

Karin Scheper, Ph.D. (Leiden, 2014), is a conservation specialist at the University Library Leiden. She has published on various topics, but concentrates on Islamic manuscripts in both her conservation practice and scholarly research.

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INTRODUCTION
Books as material culture
The technique of Islamic bookbinding
A biased opinion
Understanding in order to preserve
A codicological framework
Physical examination of the Leiden collections
The context
The anatomy of the Islamic codex
Comparative study of the literature
Surveying the collections
Terminology

Part One
MATERIALITY MATTERS
A detailed sketch of the current state of knowledge and outline of the research

The information value of binding structures
General observations
Recent developments in Western book history
Book archaeology and digitisation
Preservation issues
Present situation of the book archaeology of Islamic manuscripts
Disadvantages in developments
The position of book archaeology and the consequences for
preservation
Obstacles in the study of Islamic book making
Decoration
Ink
Paper
Textblock
Linking physical analysis, catalogue data and literature
Brief outline of the primary and secondary literature
The predominant Islamic manuscript type
The need for a typology
Point of departure for the survey
Selection and justification of the corpus
The Islamic collections in Leiden
Criteria for selecting bindings
Possibilities and restrictions

Part Two
THE ANATOMY OF THE ISLAMIC MANUSCRIPT
A detailed overview of the different methods of construction

Vocabulary and images as tools
Terminology
Illustrations
Techniques used to construct the textblock
Link-stitch sewing
Stabbed sewing
Sewing on supports
The primary endband sewing
The dual function of the spine-lining
Unsewn manuscripts with wrapper bindings
Covering and board attachment
Full leather bindings and the use of the two-pieces technique
‘Built-on’ bindings
Tabbed spines
Tabbed partial leather bindings
Tabbed ‘two-pieces’
Indeterminate structure
A problematic term: Case-binding
A matter of definition
Counter-evidence in the structure
The dual function of the spine-lining
Misjudgement caused by a Western perspective
The impact of a leading opinion
Other characteristics
Boards
The fore-edge flap
The envelope flap
Decorative structural elements
Page-markers
Characteristically tabbed spines
Endband characteristics
Meaning and validity of the diversity

Part Three
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE HISTORIC SOURCES AND RECENT LITERATURE ON THE MAKING OF ISLAMIC MANUSCRIPTS

Historic sources
Introductory remarks
Ibn Badis
Bakr al-Ishbili
Al-Malik Al-Muzaffar
Ibn Abi Hamidah
Al-Sufyani
Concluding observations
Secondary sources: related studies and general reference works
Book historians, art-historians and pioneers of manuscript studies
Glossaries and encyclopaedias
Founders of our knowledge of the use of structure and materials in Islamic bookmaking
Bosch
Déroche
Gacek
Structure as a starting point
Szirmai
Merian
Fischer
Espejo and Beny
Structure as a side issue
Raby and Tanındı
Haldane
Porter
Gruber
Miller
D’Ottone
An assortment of (mis)perceptions
Structure as a conservation issue
The eighties and nineties of the twentieth century
The first decade of the twenty-first century
Model making practice
The sum of the parts

Part Four
MULTIPLICITY WITHIN THE TRADITION
Account of the methodology and quantitative results of the survey

Methodology
General procedure
Explanation of the database and form design
The Malay collection
Excluded textblock features
Exclusion of binding decoration
Excluded binding features
Excluded categories
Considerations regarding the degree of validity of the findings
Survey results – quantitative analysis
Datable and localisable manuscripts
Sewing
Spine-lining
Endbands
Covering
Treatment of the spine at head and tail
Fore-edge and envelope flap
Inner joints
Doublures and endleaves
Bindings without paste-paper boards
Oblong bindings, page-markers and other phenomena
In conclusion

Part Five
MAPPING THE VARIATIONS IN TIME AND PLACE
Datable and localisable features and a further interpretation of the findings

Sewing
The ratio of the different sewing structures
The traditional link-stitch sewing with sewn-on leather doublures
Traditional link-stitch sewing on more than two stations
A diverging link-stitch sewing on three or more stations
Sewing on supports
Stabbed sewings
Tackets
Unsewn manuscripts
Spine-lining
Material
Function
Endbanding
Patterns
Tiedowns
Endband cores
The saw-cut endband
Absence of endbands
Covering
Full and partial leather
Full leather bindings in one and two pieces
Composite leather bindings
Limp leather bindings
Partial leather bindings: the çaharkuşe binding
Partial leather bindings: lacquer bindings
Partial leather bindings: the paper binding
Relation to content
Boards
Spine-endings
Tabbed spines
Cut flush with the textblock
Turned-in spine-ends
Interior covering of the boards
Doublures
Endleaf structures
Inner joints
The lining of the fore-edge flap
The evelope and fore-edge flap
Miscellaneous features
Decorated paper
Page-markers
Size and format
Southeast Asia as a sub-category in the Islamic tradition
Summary

Part Six
CONSIDERATIONS AND NEW PERSPECTIVES

Recapitulation
Development of the tradition
The archetypal Islamic manuscript structure and binding
A varied repertoire
Transmission of techniques and methods
The complex nineteenth century
The transition to printed books
A profile of the repairs
Discussion
The perception of Islamic bookmaking from a Western perspective
Observation and experimentation
The impracticability or drawbacks of a typology
Further study
Conclusion
An adjusted identity
Implications for conservators

BIBLIOGRAPHY

APPENDICES
I. Glossary
II. Corpus
III. Example of a record of the database
IV. List of manuscripts used in illustrations

INDEX

Readership

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.