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Re: [BKARTS] Printed Qur'ans

Dear Jake,

Indeed the quality of the books printed with Arabic type was sometimes quite poor. An early exeption was 17th century Leiden, were the Orientalist Thomas Erpenius set high standards for printing in Arabic type. See his edition of the Joseph Surah printed in 1617 and his Rudimenta Lingua Arabicae from 1620, both printed privately by the author. I do not know, however, to what extent these works were known in the Islamic world. 

You also mention the Müteferrika Press and the Bulaq Press. Our publishing house is currently preparing a microfiche collection of all editions ever printed by Müteferrika, consisting of 17 titles in 23 volumes. The total number of books Müteferrika printed between 1729 and 1742 was 13,200. We also have a collection with works from the Bulaq Press, one of the first printing houses in the Arab world. We filmed these books from the holdings of the London based School of Oriental and African Studies. More information is available on our web site: www.idc.nl/catalog/referer.php?c=361 <http://www.idc.nl/catalog/referer.php?c=361>

A good book on Arabic printing is J. Pedersen's "The Arabic Book" (Princeton 1984). Especially the final chapter is very informative.

Arjan van Dijk

Arjan van Dijk
Project Manager

IDC Publishers
P.O. Box 11205
2301 EE  Leiden
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 (0)71 514 27 00
Fax: +31 (0)71 513 17 21
Internet: http://www.idc.nl

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Jake Benson [mailto:handbindery@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Verzonden: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 9:02 PM
Aan: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Onderwerp: Printed Qur'ans

Thanks you Arjan for your wonderful overview of Qur'an printing in the=20=


 =46rom what I have understood, what many Muslims found objectionable =
the way the moveable type rendered Arabic script, in addition to the=20
fact that the printer would not have been a non-Muslim who failed to=20
maintain the required ritual purity during production.  To the Arabic=20
script reader, the appearance of the "Arabic" moveable type was ugly=20
and illegible, and objectionable breaks between each letter were=20
readily discerned, further obscuring the text.

However by the reign of Sultan Ahmet III, came a craze for all things=20
Western, and the first Printing press was established in Istanbul by=20
Ibrahim M=FCteferrika.  Perhaps moveable type was refined enough at that=20=

point to mull any objections.  Along with Western printing methods it=20
seems that Western binding methods also came into vogue- or rather=20
helped to meet an ever-burgeoning demand.  This is most noticeable in=20
some forwarding procedures: sewing on supports using a sewing frame,=20
rounding and backing, western style headbanding, edge gilding in the=20
European manner, and even edge marbling (which was not a part of=20
traditional Islamic ebru/abri production) became pervasive in much of=20
the Muslim world at that time.  the Bulaq press in Cairo (which used=20
moveable type) bound volumes using some traditional Islamic techniques=20=

for their bindings, but quickly gave way to more European production=20

To learn more about Ibrahim M=FCteferrika, please visit the Library of=20=

Congress Near East Collections page:


However when Sultan Ahmet III was deposed printing seems to have hit=20
another lull, though it began to flourish in other parts of the Muslim=20=

world.  That changed with the introduction of Lithography, especially=20
to Ottoman Turkey in the early 19th century.  Calligraphers instantly=20
favored this method as it rendered the calligraphy exactly as it was=20
written.  Hence many beautiful lithographed editions were produced by=20
Muslims at that time, some based on earlier manuscripts by the most=20
famous calligraphers.  These early lithographic editions are extremely=20=

valuable today.  Since they were of high quality, and produced by=20
Muslims, there was no objection to their production, unlike European=20

Jake Benson

Benson's Hand Bindery
1027 Brookwood Circle
West Columbia, SC  29169
(803) 926-5544=

                       Spring[binding]Hath Sprung
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                       Spring[binding]Hath Sprung
         Worldwide Springback Bind-O-Rama and Online Exhibition
            Full information at <http://www.philobiblon.com>
                   ENTRY DEADLINE -- September 1, 2004
      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>

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