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  • 4/13/2013

Bookmaking in Iran (Part 1)


Manuscripts were made by Iranians during the Sassanian rule. Some of the books bound around the 8th and 9th centuries AD were found in China’s Turkistan region.

After the Chinese invented paper, it was used in Samarqand in 750 AD. In Baghdad, paper started to be produced in sufficient volume in 10th century AD.

Raw materials and techniques to produce paper were developed all through the ages by using various local materials in Iran.

In order to make a book, first the text was handwritten. Then the pages were decorated one by one. Finally, the book was bound at its head band, cut and finished at its edges and placed into its cover so efficiently like it was a bookcase.

Decorative roundels in the form of illuminators were used both to make the pages beautiful and to make the patron or owner of the book known to its readers. Some of the pages were decorated by different pictures.

Bookmaking Materials

Paints used in all decorations were taken from various mineral pigments like red lead, vermilion, yellow ocher, orpiment, copper verdigris, lapis lazuli powder and, the most expensive of them, the true lapis lazuli.

These pigments were mixed by natural solvents. Then, artists could use this product with a brush made of cat’s hair or sable’s fur for painting. The material generally used for the cover of books was goat’s skin for the outer side and sheep’s skin for the inner side.

At times, the leather used for covers was incised to create patterns.

Early Years

The exact date of making books in the early post-Islam era in Iran is not clearly known.

According to some historians, Sassanian manuscripts have been discovered in the city of Estakhr.

Iranian works belonging to 10th and 11th centuries are preserved in the well-known library of Chester Beatty.

A volume of Qur’an, dated 972 and preserved in Istanbul, is decorated by a row of double horns of ibex. Its background is patterned by diamond-shaped checkered design and a rose in every corner.

In another volume of Qur’an, like the Istanbul volume, a cross is displayed at such junctions reminding one of the Pazyrik patterns (most probably from the Achaemenid Era).

To be continued …

Source: Iran Daily

Other links:

The Iranian Language Family: Old Iranian Languages (part 1)

The Iranian Language Family: Old Iranian Languages (part 2)

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