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MASAHIF 188

 

Masahif 188 was first described by T.W. Arnold and A. Grohmann in 1929, and therefore was not part of the fragments from Tunisia (1940s) or Yemen (1972). According to the few articles written about this manuscript it is evident that it was held in the Royal Library of Cairo, but after further investigations its whereabouts are currently unknown. Box bindings have so far been researched very little, and Masahif 188 is currently the only box binding from the 9th century that has been described thoroughly enough to get an almost complete picture of the structural makeup without examining at the original. More details and a graphic reconstruction of Masahif 188 was published in G. Marcais and L. Poinssot in their 1948 publication Objets kairouanais.

 

The wooden cover is covered in a coarse-grained light brown leather with tooling on the back cover and most likely on the front, although this has not been documented. The leather wall connected to the back board is tooled on the inside and outside with double lines with a regular interval of 3 mm with 1.5 mm between the pairs of lines. There are three holes in the middle of the front of the back cover, that most likely held a leather fastener, now lost. At the corresponding place of the front cover a hole that most likely held a metal knob is situated.[1] The inside of the covers has parchment leaves pasted on them. The parchment leaf on the back cover is pasted over the turn-ins and the leaf on the front, underneath the turn-ins. The back pastedown is from the original text, but the front pastedown has most likely been written upon after the original manuscript was completed. The text on the front pastedown documents that the book was gifted to the Great Mosque of Damascus 270 A.H (833-84 C.E.) by druggist Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Aflah.[2] The rest of the parchment book block is lost.

 

[1] Arnold, Sir Thomas W. and Professor Adolf Grohmann. The Islamic Book: A contribution to its art and history from the VII-XVIII century.
(The pegasus press 1929), 45.

[2] Arnold and Grohmann,  The Islamic Book, 45.