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Turkish Prayer Book

For my first book model, I decided to make a copy of a typical Turkish binding, with envelope flap. I selected an attractive 18th century Turkish prayer book from the collection at the Chester Beatty Library as my model, with typical dark leather binding and gold stamped detail. Below is a quick snapshot of the book:

Turkish prayer book, photo courtesy Trustees Chester Beatty Library
So far I have folded the quires, 18 in total, 5 bifolios per quire. These were pressed, trimmed to the same size as the Turkish prayer book, and sewn together using a link stitch. Unlike many Western bindings, traditional Islamic bindings are generally unsupported sewing structures. Following this, I began work on the endbands by stitching the primary supporting threads around a thin strip of leather, and then using two needles and contrasting colours of threads to weave a chevron pattern.

Detail of Islamic style endband

Silk threads were traditionally used for the endbands but I had difficulty finding the correct weight silk thread in Dublin so in this instance I used cotton embroidery yarn, which gives a slightly fluffier and less crisp result. The Turkish book I was using as my model had mostly lost its endbands, however there were some traces of a bright pink thread remaining so I went for something similar. Hot pinks, yellows, and greens are all to be found on manuscript endbands in the Islamic world.

Following this, I attached a fabric spine liner of Aerocotton© . Often in Islamic manuscripts this would’ve been attached prior to forming the endbands, but equally one does see others where the forwarding has been done in this order. Finally, I cling wrapped the completed text block to protect it from getting covered in paste when I attach the boards – not traditional of course but necessary for a novice bookbinder like myself!


2 responses »

  1. Interesting as ever. I very much want you to make me a notebook jacket in the style of a Turkish prayerbook now.


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