Bookbindings Bearing the Signature of Mehmed al-Sharīf and Their Decorative CharacteristicsFatma Şeyma Boydak
Bookbinding is a covering, usually made of leather-encased cardboard, for holding book pages or various magazines together, and the person who performs this art is called a bookbinder. The subject of this article involves the bindings bearing the signature of the Seljuk bookbinder Mehmet al-Sharīf and the decorative features of these bindings. As a result of the research made in the manuscript libraries and the literature on this field, a total of eight bindings have been found bearing the signature of Mehmed al-Sharīf (TPML A.465 and 2334, Yusuf Aga ML 191, Sulaymaniyah ML Mahmud Pasha 237 and Turhan Valide Sultan 253, Vahit Pasha ML 1169 and 1175, V&A Museum). Signature seals can be found on the corners of the bindings, in the middle of the covers, on the fore-edge flap, or on the envelope flap. The seals are circular with diameters of 5 mm, and bearing the name of Mehmed (Mohammad) within the seal; they are placed at the top of the text line due to respect for the name of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). The lower part of the seal has the phrase “al-Sharīf.” When examining the bindings, Mehmed al-Sharīf is seen to have continued the construction and decorative style of the Anatolian Seljuk binding. When considering the two examples TPML A.2334 (dated 654/1256) and TPML A.465 (dated 699/1299), Mehmed al-Sharīf is identified as having been a Seljuk-period bookbinder who produced works in the second half of the 13th century at the latest.
Mehmed eş-Şerîf İmzalı Ciltler ve Bezeme ÖzellikleriFatma Şeyma Boydak
Cilt, kitap veya çeşitli mecmuaları muhafaza etmek için genellikle deri kaplı mukavvadan yapılan kaptır. Bu sanatı icra eden sanatkârlara ise mücellit adı verilmektedir. Bu makalenin konusu, Selçuklu mücellidi Mehmet eş-Şerîf’in imzalı ciltleri ve bu ciltlerin tezyînât özellikleridir. Yazma eser kütüphaneleri ve alana dair literatür içerisinde yapılan araştırmalar neticesinde, Mehmed eş-Şerîf imzalı toplam 8 cilt (TSMK III. Ahmed: 465 ve 2334, Yusuf Ağa YEK: 191, Süleymaniye YEK Mahmud Paşa: 237 ve Turhan Valide Sultan: 253, Vahit Paşa YEK: 1169 ve 1175, V&A Museum) tespit edilmiştir. İmza mühürlerine, ciltlerin köşebentlerinde, kapak ortalarında ya da sertâb ve mikleblerinde rastlanmaktadır. Mühür, 5 mm çapında dairevî formda olmakla birlikte mühürdeki Mehmed (Muhammed) ismi, Hz. Peygamber (s.a.v.)’in adına duyulan hürmet sebebiyle istifin üst kısmına yerleştirilmiştir. Alt kısımda ise eş-Şerîf ibaresi vardır. Ciltler incelendiğinde Mehmed eş-Şerîf’in Anadolu Selçuklu ciltlerinin yapım ve tezyînât kurgusunu devam ettirdiği görülmektedir. İstinsâh tarihli iki örnek (654/1256 tarihli TSMK A. 2334 ve 699/1299 tarihli TMSK A. 465) dikkate alındığında Mehmed eş-Şerîf’in en geç 13. yüzyılın ikinci yarısı itibariyle eser üreten bir Selçuklu devri mücellidi olduğu tespit edilmiştir.
Binding can generally be defined as a covering made of cardboard, usually encased with leather, for books or various magazines. A person who performs the art of bookbinding is called a bookbinder. The subject of this article involves bindings bearing the signature of the Seljuk bookbinder Mehmed al-Sharīf, and their decorative features. Like many Seljuk bookbinders, Mehmed al-Sharīf’s name has only survived to the present through his signed bindings. The literature has no detailed information about his life, when he lived, or his art style. This article examines in detail the bindings that have been determined as bearing the signature of this bookbinder, as well as the materials, construction techniques, and decorations in the bindings and attempts to reveal the bookbinding style the bookbinder used.
As a result of the research done in manuscript libraries and the literature about Turkish-Islamic bindings, a total of eight bindings have been identified bearing the signature of Mehmed al-Sharīf. The first example is the manuscript with inventory number TPML A. 2334. The corner pieces are triangular and have bookbinder seals with the inscription of “Mehmed al-Sharīf.” The seals are 5 mm in diameter. The second example is the manuscript with inventory number Yusuf Aga ML 191. The covers are surrounded by a 10 mm wide, upside-down rūmī edge/border decoration. The corner pieces are triangular and have three bookbinder seals with a diameter of 5 mm. The third example is the manuscript with the inventory number Vahit Pasha ML 1175. The leather of the binding is a reddish-brown goatskin. The covers are surrounded by a 10 mm wide, upside-down rūmī-edge decoration, and its corner pieces are triangular, with three bookbinder seals possessing a diameter of 5 mm. The fourth example is the three-volume manuscript with inventory number TPML A.465 (1-2, 5-6, 9-10). All three bindings are of the same material and have the same decorative features. The leather is a light brown goatskin. The front and back cover decorations of the bindings are the same. The covers are surrounded by a 10 mm wide, upside-down rūmī-edge pattern interspersed with stars. The corner pieces are triangular, with three identical bookbinder seals 5 mm in diameter. The fore-edge flap is divided into three equal sheets and has four seals applied inside. Bookbinder seals and gold-inlaid dots are also found inside the medallion of the envelope flap. The fifth example is the manuscript with inventory number Sulaymaniyah ML Turhan Valide Sultan 253. The skin of the binding is a dark brown goatskin. The corner pieces of the binding are triangular, with three identical bookbinder seals of 5 mm diameter printed inside. The sixth example is the manuscript with inventory number Sulaymaniyah ML Mahmud Pasha 237. It has a circular bookbinder seal with a diameter of 5 mm on each corner. While a bookbinder seal is also found in the middle of the front cover, a rose motif has also been created by pressing 7 seals in a circular manner in the middle of the back cover. The fore-edge flap only has one bookbinder’s seal imprinted on the corners of the ruler, as on the covers. Seals are also seen on the envelope flap corners. The middle of the envelope flap has seven bookbinder seals that form a rosette, mirroring the one on the back cover. The seventh example is the manuscript with inventory number Vahit Pasha ML 1169. The leather is a reddish-brown goatskin. The corner pieces are triangular and contain three bookbinder seals with 5 mm diameters. In the center of the covers, the bookbinder seal was applied seven times to form a rosette, just as in the previous example. The eighth and final example is a binding in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This binding was identified by Duncan Haldane’s Islamic Bookbindings in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Three and seven bookbinder seals were affixed between the full ground geometric pattern on the cover surface.
Mehmed al-Sharīf continued the characterization and decoration style of the Anatolian Seljuk binding tradition in his bookbinding works. He preferred cold press and gold inlay techniques when applying the binding’s decorations. The most frequently used technique is the cold press technique, which is also common among Seljuk binding. Bookbinder seals with the inscription “Mehmed al-Sharīf” can be found on the corners of the bindings, in the middle of the covers, on the fore-edge flap, or on the envelope flap. The seal must have been applied with the same tool, as all are circular with a diameter of 5 mm. In the seal, the name of Mehmed (Mohammad) was placed at the top of the text line due to respect for the name of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). The lower part of the seal has the phrase “al-Sharīf,” and because of this phrase occurring in his name, he is considered to perhaps have descended from Hasan (the grandchild of Prophet Mohammed). The signed bindings contain two manuscripts with copy dates whose book-binding originality has been determined. The date of the manuscript with inventory number of TPML A. 2334 was copied is 654/1256, and the date the manuscript with inventory number of TPML A. 465 was copied is 699/1299. Thanks to these data, Mehmed al-Sharīf can be said to have been a Seljuk bookbinder who produced works in the second half of the 13th century at the latest. Considering the libraries where the works are located and the inscriptions placed on them, the bookbinder can be said to have lived in Anatolia. This bookbinder produced works at the end of the 13th century and most likely continued to live into the first quarter of the 14th century.