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Title: Covering the book : bindings of the Mamluk period, 1250-1516 CE
Author: Ohta, Alison
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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The study of Mamluk bindings has long stimulated the interest of scholars in the field. The bindings were recognised not only for their beauty but also for their innovative techniques of decoration. Previous studies, however, have generally focused on individual bindings or loose covers without placing them within the broader contexts of understanding the developments that took place in terms of their ornament and decoration or recognising their relationship with other media and the contemporary binding traditions of Persia or Ottoman Turkey. The purpose of this study is to trace the development of bookbinding techniques and decoration throughout the Mamluk period 650-922/1250-1516. It examines bindings that can be dateable by the colophon of the manuscripts, waqf inscriptions or dedications to a patron's library they contain. This study draws extensively on material in the Topkapi Palace Library and the Dar al-Kutub in Cairo, much of which has not been published before. From this a picture emerges of a vibrant and dynamic binding tradition that drew on a variety of sources for its inspiration. The bindings of the 14th and early 15th century are decorated with geometrical patterns of measured complexity, which continue to be developed until the end of the Mamluk period and are reflected in architectural decoration and other media. In the late 15th century, changes in both ornament and technique begin to occur which are incorporated into the Mamluk binders' repertoire reflecting developments that are noted on Persian bindings of the early 15th century. These are incorporated into the repertoire, producing bindings of outstanding workmanship and beauty. It was these designs along with pasteboard covers and gold tooling that the Italian binders of the Renaissance adopted and adapted, producing smaller and lighter books in leather bindings with gold-tooled decoration. Chapter 1 begins with an introduction followed by Chapter 2 that considers the literature on the subject. Chapter 3 examines the origins and developments in formats and structures of the 'Islamic book' between the 9th and 13th centuries setting the scene for Chapter 4 that discusses the ornament and techniques found on bindings during the Mamluk period. Chapter 5 relates bookbinding ornament to that found in other media and charts the changes and developments that occur. Chapter 6 explores the relationship between Mamluk bindings and other contemporary binding traditions. Chapter 7 concludes by drawing together the strands of the arguments that have hopefully provided a clear picture of the important developments that took place from the 14th to the 16th centuries of an important binding tradition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral