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Early Arabic Bookmaking Techniques as Described by al-Rāzī in His Recently Rediscovered Zīnat al-Katabah

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This paper provides an introduction to one of the oldest, and until recently, unknown treatises on the topic of Islamic bookmaking: the <em>Zīnat al-Katabah</em> by the physician and chemist Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakarīyā al-Rāzī (d. 313/925). It demonstrates this text's relevance to bookmaking literature, contextualizes its title and author, and supplies a detailed description of its contents. The main subjects discussed within al-Rāzī's work include ink-making techniques, invisible inks, paper soaking, and erasures on parchment, papyrus and paper. This paper also contains an initial comparison between al-Rāzī's text and other texts, both earlier as well as subsequent, on the same subject. Lastly, an analysis reveals the fact that this text has been cited by authors who failed to provide a reference, then corrects some distorted passages, and disputes various falsely established ideas.

Affiliations: 1: The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts (ALECSO) Cairo Egypt, Email:; 2: The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts (ALECSO) Cairo Egypt


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