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Near East Collection: Islamic Books and Bookbinding

Exhibit "Islamic Books and Bookbinding"

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Stamped, painted and gilt leather Koran bindings
(18th cent. A.D. / 12th cent. A.H.)

Ornate Naskhi script.

These two volumes show the range of styles used by later workshops. The outside of the binding is stamped with a European-type floral border and a full-cover design painted in several colors. The interior covers have colored stamped patterns in the traditional Persian style. The lack of flaps and the dimensions of the bindings, extending slightly beyond the edge of the pages rather than flush with them, are features borrowed from European bindings.

Beinecke; Arabic ms. 58

Persian-style binding: Inlaid medallion design
(18th cent.)

al-Jami` al-wajiz, also known as al-Fatawa al-Bazzaziyah. A compendium of fatwa(s) (religious opinions) written by the Hanafite jurist Ibn al-Bazzaz (d. 1424). This copy was made in Damascus, Syria, in 1126 A.H. / 1714 A.D.
Ruq`ah script. This script spread from Turkey to the Middle East following the Ottoman conquest of the area in 1516-17.

This binding illustrates a method used in the 17th and 18th centuries to produce sharp inlaid medallion designs of the Persian-style binding. The supporting board was hollowed out in the exact shape of the stamp to be used, then the dampened leather was placed over the board. When applied to the leather, the heated stamp molded into the contours of the board and created a deep impression. The gilt patterns were applied to paper, perhaps because paper took the gilding more readily than leather. The paper was then placed between the leather and the stamp, hence becoming sealed to the leather during the stamping process.

Beinecke; Arabic ms. 166

Stamped leather binding
(1568 A.D. / 976 A.H.)

A work on financially helping fellow Muslims.
Naskhi script.

Binding featuring the typical flap. The lobed medallion at the center and in the corners of this binding are featured introduced in Iran (Persia) in the 15th century. By the 16th century, when this example was made, the medallions were common in binding decoration throughout much of the Islamic world. The long-necked birds flying in the center medallion reflect influence from the Far East.

Beinecke; Arabic ms. 248

Tooled and stamped leather binding
(15th cent. A.D. / 9th cent. A.H.)

Fara'id al-fawa'id fi ta`arud al-qawlayn. A work on Islamic law by Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Sulami (d. 1400 or 1401).
Naskhi script.

Beinecke; Landberg ms. 374


Memalik-I Iran

Ibrahim Muteferrike (d. 1745), the famous Ottoman statesman and diplomat, is credited with the establishment in Istanbul (old Constantinople) of the first official printing press in the Ottoman Empire, in 1140 A.H./1727 A.D.

This map of the Safavid Empire of Iran (1501-1736), dated 1142 A.H./1729 or 1730 A.D., is the third map printed by Ibrahim Muteferrike, whose name appears in the lower left corner.

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