As a continuation of last week’s post, which introduced the Center’s new, 9-day summer intensive, in conjunction with the summer exhibition, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, today’s post focuses on another component of the intensive: Islamic binding.
The earliest example that we have of early Islamic bookbinding dates back to the 9th century in Egypt. The tradition of bookbinding in the Islamic world comprises a rich history, cross-pollinated across the middle and far East. Two distinct features include the “flap” and leather tooling.
The “flap” is an extension of the back cover, which can be either folded over the front cover or tucked beneath it. The “flap” serves the dual purpose of protecting the book and providing a built-in bookmark. Islamic art in general is known for its ornate, organic motifs, and bookbinding is no exception. Islamic book artists incorporated stylized patterning in bookmaking by tracing designs onto the leather used for covering book boards and then dampening and tooling the leather to make the design permanent. Traditional Islamic bindings are usually even with the text block, with a flat spine.
Stamping and lacquering also became popular methods for adorning covers.Lacquered bindings began to appear in Iran in the 15th century. From the 16th century onward, some book covers exhibited decorations similar to Persian miniatures.
Instructor Gavin Dovey of Paper Dragon Books will lead students through a three-day intensive that explores early Islamic binding, August 16-18, from 10:00am to 6:00pm each day. Dovey plans to use traditional goatskin, hand-sewn chevron headbands, and leather tools. To read more about the class and register, click here.