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Islamic and African Bookbindings (long)

        To add to the list of materials recommended by others on the list
previously, I would add that Julian Raby's Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th
Century Azimuth Editions, 1993 as an excellent resource.  Raby is very
thorough in covering a number of points on on the subject.  He also dispels a
number of previously held beleifs about Islamic Bindings in general (such as
certain premises made by Bosch, Carswell, and Petherbridge in islamic
Bookbindings and Bookmaking)

   By focusing on the 15th c. bindings executed at the Tokapi Palace, h e
disscuses the change over in decorative style from all-over geometric designs
similar to the Mamluks, to the recessed panel stamping (usually featuring
 central circles or ovals Semse, and corner medallions Kosebend), and the
technical advances entailed.   Considerable space is also devoted by Zeren
Tanindi to Islamic textile bindings-tabby bindings and velvet bindings,
particularly a group associated with Fatih Sultan Mehmed II (Mehmed the
Conqueror) Raby discusses an entire family that worked for the Topkapi
palace, as well as other specific binders works, and also mentions a number
of structural features encountered, incuding interesting historic repair
methods.  The pictures are definitely to DROOL over.

        Another general refernce that has some excellent information the History of
Bookbinding from the Walter's Art Gallery exhibit in 1953.  Richard
Ettinghausen wrote a number of entries concerning the Islamic entries in the
exhibit- including some of the early Qairouan bindings.

        I had heard from Cary Welch a few years ago that John Carswell had told him
that he intended to get Islamic Bookmaking reprinted.  It hasn't happened
yet.  A woman in Holland Eliza Tomas has been working on a book about Arab
Paper, with fresh translations from the 'Umdatul Kuttab (Staff of the
Scribes) a by Tamimi ibnul Badis (she had told me there are now known to be 6
manuscript copies-

        Raby also mentions a forthcoming work on Mamluk Bindings, but I can't seem
to find the reference at this moment.

        I have to admit that there is a very large lacunae regarding popular styles
of Islamic Bindings, as almost everything published concerns Court bindings.
 The earlier mention of Ethiopian scrolls also remids me that the same is
true of talismans, scrolls and their cases-particularly leather ones, in the
Islamic world.

        As far as African Bindings- aside from those mentioned previously, I have
seen a type of West African Qur'an binding that's really a type of portfolio
(One I had seen even had a top and bottom triangle flap, as well as the usual
foredge flap associated with Most Islamic style bindings.) since the pages of
the text are unsewn.  This portfolio was then placed in a slipcase, which
could then be hung around the neck.  The text is often a printed facsimile of
a type of West African Kufi script.  I had also come across this same type of
binding on a collection at a dealer's in Cairo on a copy of Tafsiri Jalalain
from the late 18th century, and almost certainly of Egyptian manufacture-
though of a more popular "street style".

Jake Benson

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