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Reading the Book’s History. Understanding the Repairs and Rebindings on Islamic Manuscripts in the Vatican Library and Their Implications for Conservation

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The conservation of 48 Islamic manuscripts undertaken in the conservation workshop of the Vatican Library, brought their numerous repairs to attention. Many were identifiable as having been done in the region where the manuscripts originated. This article presents the considerations that informed the conservation approach. After an overview of recent discussions about the meaning of repairs to Islamic bindings, the methodology used to analyze the manuscripts and their bindings is described. This is followed by a general introduction to the manuscripts, the results of the material and structural analysis of the bindings and an overview of the different types of repair. The influence their analysis had on the conservation decisions will be illustrated using several examples that underline both the possibilities and limits that conservation poses to the objective of preserving the complete history of the book.

Affiliations: 1: Restauratie Nijhoff Asser


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