Books, Ink, and Binding in the Golden Age of Islam

Topics: Books, Ink, Gum arabic Pages: 4 (1219 words) Published: February 1, 2014
Ayoub Laissouf

Books, Ink, and Bindings
The development of the Islamic book art and bookbinding was a result of the need of a written document of the divine revelations that the prophet Muhammad received through the angel Gabriel from 610 AD until 632. The followers of the prophet memorized Quran and transmitted it orally, and they jotted it down on bones, camel shoulder blades, stones and several other materials. However, with the swift expansion of the Islam to other regions, believers decided that it was no longer possible to rely just on oral transmission and memory to disseminate God’s words. Therefore, they recorded Quran in a clear and tangible form to leave no chance to distortion, amendments, or errors. That sacred written record led to the establishment of the calligraphy, which is constituted the most revered form of the Islamic art, the evolvement of manuscript illumination, to aid in reciting and reading the text, and eventually, to the art of bookbinding.

Definition of the Manuscript:
According to the Advanced Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary manuscript is, “An old document or book written by hand in the time before printing was invented.” The Materials of the Islamic Manuscript
The prominent surfaces on which manuscripts and Arabic books were written were parchment (riqq, raqq, or jild), papyrus (a plant grows near water), and paper. According to Arvin, “ The earliest writing, mostly short inscription, can be found in building and coins, on camel shoulder blades and ribs, on palm bark, leather (from buffalo, sheep, and, in Persia, oxen), limestone, ostraca, linen, silk that was treated with gum and smoothed by mussel shells, and wooden board.”(11:221) In addition, at that time, parchment was expensive and luxury material for books, particularly for the Quran. Samarqand, Cairo, and Damascus manufactured parchments with high quality which were mostly used for the Quran and less often for the other manuscripts. Sheep...

Cited: Avrin, Leila. Scribes, Script, AND Books: The Book Arts from Antiquity "to" the Renaissance Chicago: American Library Association, 1991.
Def.3. Cambridge Dictionary Online. Third Edition. 2012
Gacek, Adam. Arabic Manuscripts : A Vademecum For Readers. Leiden: Brill, 2009. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
AL­BIRUNI, ABU RAYHAN. The Treasury of Oriental Manuscripts. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 29 June 2011.
Jacobs, David. “Middle Eastern Bookbinding- The Islamic Book.” The British Library.
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