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The Contents: A suede wrapped text housing the Rubiayat of the 11th-12th century astronomer/poet Omar Khayyam that had been exposed to the elements of storage, possibly the nibbling of hungry rodents. Remnants of the original sewing barely held the text block, several of the pages had losses and/or portions of pages that had become separated.

The Treatments:   tinting tissue, mending tears, filling losses guarding sections, re-sewing and cover reconstruction.

Above: Mending flyleaves, mending tears


After surface cleaning, the inner corners of each folio were mended with a thin Hanji (1101). The mends were placed on both sides of the tear. Losses were filled using a heavier Hanji (1401). Because one layer did not fill the loss to equal thickness of the original page, the loss was filled on both sides.

Original Textblock Construction:

  1. Single folio  with a single sheet tipped to the back (black and white title page)
  2. Single folio (color title page and image)
  3. Signature of 3 folios
  4. Single folio
  5. Signature of 3 folios
  6. Single folio
  7. Signature of 3 folios
  8. Single sheet tipped to a single folio

Textblock after treatment: All the inner and outermost folios of the signatures were guarded, as were the single folios.  The single sheets that had previously been tipped were given an extended tissue flange and sewn with the single folio preceeding (or following). This alteration to the original structure will allow for greater openability in the event that this book be scanned for digitization.

Mending the Fly-leaves: Hanji tissue was tinted with acrylics to match the fly-leaves. When possible, the mends were placed on the back, using a thin Hanji (1101). Losses were filled on the backside with a heavier Hanji (1401). The thin Hanji was placed over the fill. The mended folio was then guarded.

The textblock was sewn using a link stitch.

A tissue liner (Hanji 1401) was pasted to the spine of the textblock, leaving approximately a ¼” overhang onto the textblock. A second tinted tissue liner  was placed, with PVA, leaving approximately a 7/8” flange to be adhered under the cover.

Cover Reconstruction: 

A liner of moriki tissue was pasted to the fly leaves. It was torn to give it soft feathered edges. This additional lining will act as a support for the leather reconstruction as well as ensure a fit should the leather expand or contract. To make an accurate template of the area to be reconstructed, the outline of the missing area was traced onto mylar which was then transferred to the leather. The leather was placed and adhered with lascaux. the tissue flanges that were originally to be placed under the endsheets, were instead adhered (with SCMC) to the flyleaf (because, i mistakenly had already adhered the endsheets to the cover).

Some background about Omar Khayyam: The word rubaiyat is derived from the Arabic root word for “four,” meaning quatrains. The title of this work refers to the poetry of Omar Khayyam, that is written in such form.

As a young man, Omar studied the Koran under Imam Mowaffak of Naishapur, a man revered to be a great and wise. It was said that whomever studied under his guidance would attain honor and happiness. Omar’s time of study was spent with two others, Nizam-al-Mulk and Hassan Ben Sabbah. Realizing that it was unlikely that all three of them would acheive honor and happiness, Hassan proposed a pact that whichever one of them should attain great fortune, would share it equally among the others. The three agreed.

Nizam became the Vizyr (administrator of affairs)  and soon after Hassan came to claim his share of fortune, demanding a place in government. He became impatient with the gradual rise to power and eventually fell out of favor.  He became the leader of a Persian sect of Ismailians, fanatics who under Hassan rose to “evil eminence spreading terror throughout the Mohommedon world.”

Omar also returned for his share of fortune but asking only to “live in a corner under the shadow of [Nizam’s] fortune, to spread wide the advance of science and pray for [Nizam’s] long life and prosperity.” Omar became very knowledgeable and learned in science, particularly astronomy. He was chosen to be one of 8 men to reform the calendar. Despite his awards and the recognition of his knowledge, it was said that he was not well-liked in his time, especially by the Sufis. For this reason, his poetic works did not reach other parts of the world. The few copies that do exist are said to be casualties of translations, receiving great variation.

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2012 by .
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