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List of illustrations

  • The spread of paper and papermaking
  • The spread of paper and papermaking, detail of West Asia
  • View of Nuremberg
  • Papermakers forming the sheets in molds (top left), couching, or layering, the sheets (top center), and pressing the stack (top right)
  • The molecular structure of cellulose
  • Cotton fibers, seen under a scanning electron microscope
  • Mesopotamian clay tablet impressed with cuneiform writing
  • Stela from Tjetji's tomb-chapel
  • Fragment of a papyrus roll
  • Wooden writing tablet
  • Pair of boxwood writing tablets hinged with ivory
  • Parchment Torah scroll
  • Papyrus fragment
  • Page from a blank papyrus codex, later inscribed
  • Pages from the Codex Sinaiticus
  • Papyrus sheet
  • Bamboo tablets
  • Silk map
  • Fragment of hemp paper
  • Miniature printed charm scroll, detail
  • Diamond Sutra
  • Letter in Soghdian script
  • Leaves of the talipot palm inscribed with the text of Astasahasrika Pajnaparamita
  • Letter in Soghdian script
  • Papyrus plants, Sicily
  • Seated scribe
  • The Parchment-Maker
  • Page from a copy of the Koran
  • Folio from a Qur'an manuscript, detail
  • Manuscript of the Koran
  • Manuscript of the Koran copied on European watermarked paper
  • Greek text of the Doctrina patrum
  • Paper fragment
  • Manuscript of Abu Ubayd’s Gharaib al-hadith
  • Page from a dispersed manuscript of the Koran on paper
  • Noah's Ark
  • Salm and Tur slay Iraj
  • Two pages from a mammoth copy of the Koran
  • Blue Chinese paper with decoration in gold of Landscape of a River and Hills and Two Birds in a Flowering Tree
  • Memorandum of a business transaction
  • Section of a decree issued by the Fatimid caliph al-Hafiz
  • Fragment of a playing card (the four of cups)
  • The Woman speaking with the Old Lady about Riyad, while Riyad is stopped near the pool with blood pouring from her face
  • Undershot and overshot waterwheels
  • Horizontal waterwheel
  • Cams and stampers in a papermill
  • Woman in western Nepal making paper with floating mold
  • Japanese papermaking mold
  • Sheet of medieval Spanish paper
  • Copy of the forty-two-line Bible printed by Gutenberg
  • Oil lamp
  • Taj Mahal, detail of Koranic inscription on the facade
  • Qur'an page
  • Dome of the Rock, interior, detail of glass mosaic inscription band
  • Portion of a document recording receipt of payment
  • Page from a manuscript of the Koran
  • Page from a dispersed manuscript of the Koran
  • Two pages from a manuscript of the Koran copied on parchment in broken cursive script
  • Folio from a Qur'an Manuscript
  • Right half of a double-page frontispiece, manuscript of the Epistles of the Sincere Brethren
  • Double-page frontispiece, manuscript of the Arabic translation of Dioscorides’ De materia medica
  • Copy of al-Hariri’s Maqamat
  • Parts of the typical Islamic book
  • Chart of Arabic numerals
  • World map from a copy of Ibn Hawqal’s Geography
  • The constellation Andromeda from al-Sufi’s Treatise on the Fixed Stars
  • Map of the Nile from a copy of al-Khwarizmi’s Geography
  • World map from a copy of al-Kashgari’s Turkish grammar
  • World map from a copy of al-Idrisi’s Geography
  • Index diagram showing the relation of the sectional maps in al-Idrisi’s Geography
  • Graticule map of central and western Asia
  • Battle chart from a copy of Muhammad ibn Isa al-Aqsarai’s End of Questioning
  • Final page of an anonymous popular romance
  • Lion drawing with three lines of text from a discourse on wild animals
  • Leaf from a Greek manuscript of Aesop’s Fables and Kalila and Dimna
  • Drawing of a seated figure on the back of a luster-painted tile
  • Bowl with a Figure and Birds
  • Plate
  • Linen textile with inscription band
  • Fragmentary textile, detail
  • The Great Mosque, interior
  • Tomb of the Samanids
  • Badr al-Din Lu’lu’lu hunting with falcons, frontispiece to Book of Songs, volume 20
  • Warqa’s father, Humam, dies in his arms, from Warqa and Gulshah
  • Bahram Gur Kills the Dragon, from the First Small Shāhnāma
  • Sketches of mythical animals and trees
  • Pitcher
  • Large luster bowl
  • Dish
  • An open-air Mongol court
  • Pricked drawing of a paradisiacal scene
  • Sultaniyya, mausoleum of Sultan Uljaytu, detail of caults
  • Right-hand frontispiece to the sixth section of a thirty-part Koran manuscript
  • Plaster plaque bearing the design for a muqarnas vault
  • Shrine of Abd al-Samad, muqarnas vault over tomb
  • Large-patterned Holbein carpet
  • Medallion carpet
  • Laid paper
  • The twenty-four-point Arabic font
  • Block-printed amulet on paper
  • Opening pages of the Koran
  • Opening page of the Tarikh-i rashid afandi, a history of the Ottoman dynasty from 1660
  • A Hollander beater
Free
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Contents
PublisherYale University Press
Free
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
~In the Middle Ages, paper—a material now so common that it is taken for granted—transformed the ways that people living in West Asia and North Africa thought and worked. It became the prime medium of memory. I have spent my professional life studying and writing about the history of art and architecture in the Islamic lands, but I was suddenly...
PublisherYale University Press
Free
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Maps
PublisherYale University Press
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Paper, one of the most ubiquitous materials in modern life, was invented in China a century or two before the Common, or Christian, Era. Nearly a millennium passed, however, before Europeans first used the stuff, and they did not make it themselves until the eleventh and twelfth centuries. European Christians learned about making paper from the Muslims...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.1-15
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.001

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Humans have been around for five million years. For 99.9 percent of that time, or until about five thousand years ago, they did not write at all. The invention of writing around 3000 B.C.E. transformed human society by enabling people to transmit greater quantities of knowledge more accurately across vast distances of space and time. In spite of the power of writing, however, or perhaps because of...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.17-45
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.002

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
The unification of West Asia under Islam in the eighth century meant that once Muslims encountered paper in Central Asia, its use spread rapidly across Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa to Spain. For papermaking to travel from its place of origin—China—to Samarqand, in Central Asia, had taken about five centuries, but a mere two centuries after Muslims encountered paper in...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.47-89
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.003

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Western historians have often argued that Islamic civilization made its greatest mistake in the fifteenth century when it refused to accept the printing press, for this failure supposedly condemned Islamic civilization to isolation from the mainstream of knowledge. Although Muslims did not use the printing press until the eighteenth century, and then only tentatively, they had other means of...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.91-123
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.004

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
The spread of paper from Baghdad, the Abbasid capital, in the late eighth and early ninth centuries coincided not only with expanded literary production on many subjects and an absolute increase in the number of books but also with the development of several systems of notation. The attempt to create graphic analogues of human activities was in itself nothing new in human history, but the...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.125-159
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.005

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Once paper was available in the Islamic lands, artists and artisans eventually came to exploit its possibilities, but they were somewhat slower to do so than were writers, mathematicians, geographers, and merchants. Before paper, artists and artisans worked directly with their chosen materials—clay, bronze, cloth, brick, plaster—relying on experience and practice to do what we would...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.161-201
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.006

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
The transfer of paper and papermaking technology from the Islamic lands to Christian Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries prepared the way for the European print revolution of the fifteenth century. Yet Gutenberg’s invention might never have taken off if he and his followers had been limited to printing books on parchment. Gutenberg is thought to have printed 200 copies of his Bible,...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.203-213
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.007

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Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Over the course of the seven centuries between 800 and 1500, inhabitants of the Islamic lands—who were largely but not exclusively Muslims—carried their knowledge of paper and papermaking across a vast swath of Eurasia and North Africa. Had they not mediated between the cultures of the Far East and the Far West, Europeans would probably have remained ignorant of paper—as well as...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.215-226
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00217.008

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Free
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Works Cited
PublisherYale University Press
Free
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Index
PublisherYale University Press
Free
Description: Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
Photo Credits
PublisherYale University Press
Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World
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