Photo Documentation

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_01_已編輯.jpg

Front cover: before treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_22_已編輯.jpg

Spine and front cover: before treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_02_已編輯.jpg

Front endleaves: before treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_06_已編輯.jpg

Opening characteristic: before treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_21_已編輯.jpg

Opening characteristic: before treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_31_已編輯.jpg

Opening characteristic: before treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_01_已編輯.jpg

Front cover: after treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_11.jpg

Spine and front cover: after treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_02_已編輯.jpg

Front endleaves: after treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_04_已編輯.jpg

Opening characteristic: after treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_05_已編輯.jpg

Opening characteristic: after treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_17_已編輯.jpg

Opening characteristic: after treatment

MS M.468_The_Quintet_BT_27_已編輯_已編輯.jpg

Spine: before treatment


Spine: during treatment 


Spine: during treatment 


Spine: during treatment 

MS M.468_The_Quintet_AT_13_已編輯.jpg

Spine: after treatment 

Treatment Record Documentation

Date of Examination:  January, 2019

Title:  Khamsah (The Quintet)

Author: Niẓāmī Ganjavī, 1140 or 1141-1202 or 1203. 

Published/Created: Iran, probably Shīrāz, between 1488 and 1490.

Owner: Medieval and Renaissance Department, Morgan Library & Museum

Call Number: MS M.468     

Background Information:

Niẓāmī’s Khamsah, or The Quintet, is one of the favorite poetry of the Persian-speaking world, beloved not only in Iran itself but also in India and, in earlier times, in Turkey as well. The Khamsa was written in the city of Ganja, now in the Azerbaijani Republic, where the poet was born and remained all his life. The work consists of five poems written over a period of thirty-four years (1165-99); the Morgan Library & Museum has six copies of Niẓāmī’s popular work. 

The manuscript MS M. 468 was copied in Iran, probably Shīrāz in the years between 1488 and 1490. It was purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) from Alexandre Imbert in Rome, 1911. A leather bookplate of J. P. Morgan is found on the recto of fol.1.

A profusion of notes and seals are found on flyleaves (fol.1 and fol.343) and on numbered pages between books (fols.2, 32v-33v,105v,157v-158,215v-216,299v). These are only mementos, and say nothing about the provenance of the manuscript.

Collation (signatures, format, leaves, pagination, foliation, and inserts):
The manuscript is comprised of 49 gatherings varying in size from 2 to 8 leaves. There are 343 folios (folios 1 and 343 are flyleaves) in total. There are unknown number of folios missing after fol. 160, 163-165, and possibly 256.

Leaves are sewn-in bifolios. Modern foliation in Arabic numerals was written in graphite at the upper left corner on the recto of each leaf. There are catchwords in block ink written at the bottom margin of the verso of each leaf. 




The manuscript is bound with a partial leather binding, which has two lacquer-painted covers from the second half of the nineteenth century and a leather spine. The lacquer-painted covers are made of pasteboards (which has the thickness of about 3mm), decorated with water-based paint and finished with multiple layers of lacquer.   The boards were cut flush to the text-block and there is no square at head, tail and foredge. The joints at the spine edges are about 7mm wide. These two lacquer-painted covers were decorated with a variety of flowers, including roses, irises and tulips, on a dark red background (a twinkling effect can be seen on the red background, which is an effect known in Persian as marqash) , surrounded by a narrow green border of alternating four-and five-petal rosettes. The back cover is the mirror image of the front. The lacquer-painted doublures have large irises with a smaller branch of four-petal pink flowers on either side; the background is black and the narrow border has reddish gold chevrons. 

The leather spine is very deteriorating, which makes it difficult to fully understand the structure. Edges of the outer layer are slightly lifting along the shoulder; besides, there are two layers of endcap at the tail can be seen. After careful examination and consultations with Yasmeen Khan and Katherine Beaty, it seems likely that the lacquer-painted boards were originally attached to the text-block using the two-pieces technique , and the two flaps just met or slightly overlapped on the spine. And because the leather was normally pared thin at the edge, the leather or the whole text-block splitted from the middle at some point after the manuscript was bound. Then a third piece was used to repair that.

The leather spine-ends at the tail are semi-tabbed, which means the leather spine ends do not protrude in a tongue-like fashion but is clearly cut, although not quite flush with the boards. There isn’t any endband present at either the head or tail. However, there are some endband fragments are found in between the text-block. For instance, a silk thread fragment of pale yellow color is found in between fol.31v and fol.32r; another silk thread fragment of bright yellow color is found in between fol.91v and fol. 92r. 

On the inner side of each cover, there is a strip of dark green cloth adhered underneath the painted spine edge. The length of the cloth flange is about the same as the height of the text-block, while the width of the flange is only about 1.5cm wide. It seems likely that the lacquered covers have originally been attached to the text-block via adhering the cloth flange along the gutter of the outer leaf of the text-block first (overlaps the outer leaf for about 7 mm), and then the rest of the flange was hinged onto the spine. Subsequent board attachment appears to be accomplished by adhering the leather piece onto the spine. In this binding, it seems that the cloth strips were used to strengthen the board attachment as well as to cover the inner joints. 


The text-blcok is made of medium weight handmade Islamic paper in cream color. The paper surface is sized, burnished and thus very smooth. All the pages of the text-block are trimmed and there is not edge decoration. The text-block is sewn with a link-stitch on two sewing stations. The thread used for the current sewing is thin and has off-white color. However, a much thicker thread is also found in between fol.229v and fol.230r and several other locations, which probably was the thread used in  previous sewing. In its present form the manuscript consists of 49 gatherings. Most of the gatherings are consist of 8 bifolios, but there are also some inconsistencies in between. The first and last leaves are used as flyleaves. Some of the leaves seem to have been tipped together. The spine of the text-block is flat, with no lining other than flesh side leather remnants adhered to the spine. 

The text in written mainly in black ink in Nastaʿlīq, with headings in gold or blue naskh; sarlauḥ and ‘unvāns are in white naskh. The rulings are gold, black and blue.




The binding is in poor condition overall. The boards are still attached to the text-block, however the leather joints are very deteriorating. The leather spine is also very fragmentary and has significant loses. The leather spine-end at head of the binding is severely damaged.

The lacquered surface of the covers is marred by bubbles. There are also some cracking and losses of lacquered layer.

The corners of the covers are abraded and the laminated boards underneath are exposed.  

The front inner joint of green cloth is deteriorating and tearing, while the back inner joint is still intact. 

Text-block: The text paper is in fair condition overall with sections splitting. The sewing thread is broken and some of the gatherings become loose. Most outer bifolios of the gathering are torn at the folds. Within the text-block, there are several old mends exist. All the mends had been done with paper, but the paper used for the mending work various. Currently, most of the previously applied mends appear to be structurally stable. There are unknown number of folios missing after after fol. 160, 163-165, which suggested by the catch-words found on the verso of these folios. 

Both the front and back endleaves show some abrasions, tears and folds around the edges. They were pulled back toward the spine edge probably due to the shrinkage of the material used along the spine and thus became shorter at the for-edge. 

Some leaves have evidence of water damage in the form of tidelines and brown staining, especially at the tail. 
The media of miniatures in-between the manuscript is in fair condition, with some smearing, color offset and paper corrosion. There are also small areas of media cracking, media losses and media lifting on the miniatures of fol.3r, fol.15r, fol.22v, fol. 26r, fol.33v, fol.43v, fol. 43v, fol.48r, fol.57r, fol.62v, fol.70v, fol.76r, fol.99r, fol.152r, fol.158v, fol.173r, fol.230r and fol. 262r. 


Aim of the project: 
The primary goal of treatment is to stabilize the text-block so as to prevent further damage and loss. This can be accomplished by disbinding, guarding, mending and resewing the text-blcok with sympathetic material. 

Although the leather spine piece is in severely degraded condition, the painted-lacquer covers are still in good condition and can be reused. Therefore, the manuscript will be further stabilized by rebacking using the lacquered covers. 

Options for further conservation treatment will depend on a deeper understanding of the binding structure and curatorial decisions.



1.    Removed the repair leather/ outer piece mechanically with a spatula. 
Note: After the repair leather was fully removed, it looks like the spine of the text-block is fully covered with leather, although the leather around the center area is severely degraded. 
2.    Carefully detached the lacquered covers and saved the leather flanges that were attached along the board edges. 
3.    Reduced leather residue on the spine of the text-block mechanically with a spatula.
4.    Cut off sewing thread and pulled the sections apart. 

1.    Surface clean: All the pages were dry cleaned by using a soft brush and chemical sponges. Miniatures and other painted areas were avoided. 
2.    Removal of adhesive residue: After the whole text-block had been pulled apart, there were some adhesive residues left along the outer spine folds. Therefore, 3% of methyl cellulose poultices were used for softening the adhesive residue and then they were removed with a spatula.
3.    Removal of old paper repairs:  Most of the old paper mends were still stable and functional, but there were several old repairs along the spine fold were failing and would interfere with guarding. Therefore, these failing old-repairs were peeled off carefully and then 5% methyl cellulose poultice was used to remove the paper and adhesive residue.
4.    Pigment consolidation of miniatures: Unstable pigments were consolidated with 1.5% Isinglass & ethanol, using a brush. See pigment consolidation records for details. 
5.    Mending and guarding: Small tears were repaired with pre-toned RK 1 (8gsm, Japanese machine-made kozo tissue, Paper Nao).  Losses were infilled and repaired using Korean chamdak paper #1502 (32gsm, Talas) and RK 1 supporting tissue. 
RK 1 (Paper Nao) was used for guarding bifolios that had slightly or partially damaged folds. Besides, Tengujo (HM-A Wood ash, 11gsm) was used for guarding bifolios that had completely split in half. After each bifolio of a gathering was guarded, the folded gathering was placed under boards. 
Korean paper #1502 was attached to the spine edge of single folios, which formed a fold to allow the single folios to be sewn into the binding. All the repair tissues and kozo paper were toned with airbrush and fluid acrylic (Golden Fluis Acrylic). The mixture of wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose was used as the adhesive.
6.    Re-collating the text-block:  For single folios, when the paper guards were dry, they were folded around the section fold. Fol. 164 and fol. 165 were relocated inbetween fol. 160 and fol. 161. 
Note: From Barbara’s catalogue, she noted that there are some missing folios after folios 160, 163-165. So when I examined the manuscript, I checked the catch phrases on the verso of these folios, and found that indeed they don’t match the first phrase on the next page. However, after I looked into the collation of the manuscript and draw the diagram. I found that the catch phrase on fol.160 match the first phrase on fol. 164; the catch phrase on fol,165 match the first phrase on fol. 161; the catch phrase on fol.163 match the first phrase on fol.166. And nothing was missing. I also noticed that the single bifolio of gathering 22 was sewn with the rest of the text-blcok, as there was a sewing thread goes through the center of the fold. So probably this mistake was made when the manuscript was rebound in the 19th century. After a discussion with the curators Roger S. Wieck and Joshua O'Driscoll, we consulted an Islamic scholar with the newly proposed sequence of fol. 158b to fol.167. And he confirmed that the new sequence was correct. 
7.    New endleaves: New endleaves with a two-bifolios structure were made from Japanese Gampi paper (Bitchu-Torinoko Gampi paper). Besides, strips of handmade Korean papers #1502 were adhered onto the endleaves bifolios so that the inner joints could be covered.  The strips of   Korean papers were toned with fluid acrylic (Golden Fluis Acrylic: Van Dyke Brown Hue + Bone Black). 
8.    Sewing: The original link stitch sewing on two stations was placing too much tension on the paper, as well as providing a weak sewing structure for such a thick volume.  Therefore it was decided to re-sew the text-block using two thin single cord supports with two kettles. With the endband primary sewing, this style ensures that there is thread all along the fold to equalize the tension on the text-block and paper. The sewing thread (Colophon Best Machine Sewing Thread 40/3) was soaked in ethanol for 5 minutes so that the starch infill could be removed and the thread became softer. A much thicker thread (Colophon Best Machine Sewing Thread 18/8) was used as the sewing supports. 
9.    After sewing, the spine was slightly rounded. And then a kozo paper (Tengujo,HM-A Wood ash, 11gsm) was applied onto the spine of the text-block with wheat starch paste.  

1.    The old leather flaps and cloth inner joints on spine edge were trimmed off to make flush with the board edge. 
2.    Delaminated and worn away board corners were rebuilt with cord fibre, Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. After the corners were rebuilt, a toned paper was applied to cover the new material and then it was retouched with acrylic to approximate the appearance of the original pattern.
3.    Lacquered layer on spine edge of the boards (which was backed with a strip of cloth) was lifted mechanically with a spatula. Lacquered layer on spine edge of the back boards was faced with with separate pieces of RK-1 tissue pre-coated with 5% klucel G in ethanol before it was lifted.
4.    Two cotton flanges were adhered separately to the inside of the boards under the lifted areas with 1:1 mix of PVA and wheat starch paste. The cotton was washed in hot water so that it is more receptive to paste. After it dried flat, the cotton was lined with thin Japanese tissue (RK 1) and wheat starch paste. The lined cotton was bias cut to size, which takes advantage of the greater stretch in the bias. 

1.    Back board: The back board was attached to the text-block with a second sewn attachment through the first and last two gatherings, as well as a center gathering of the text-block.  
2.    New endbands of traditional Islamic style:  Loops of thread were going over a 2mm wide alum-tawed skin wrapped with Japanese kozo paper, and through each section to create the primary sewing. Then the threads were picked up to create a chevron pattern of the secondary sewing, with silk thread.
3.    Front board: The front board was attached to the text-block via adhering the cotton flange onto the spine with Lascaux 498HV. Lascaux 498 HV was used as its adhesive film is more flexible. In addition, it also creates a barrier, which prevents the moisture generated in the rebacking process from entering the manuscript leaves. 
4.    Rebacking leather: The color of new goat leather (Harmatan goat leather #24 Dark Brown) was modified with Sellaset leather dye and leather fixative (The Leather Conservation Centre).
5.    Rebacking: The new leather was adhered to the spine and slightly over the board edge with wheat starch paste. 
6.    The lifted edges on the inner side of the board were re-adhered with wheat starch paste. The facing tissue was removed with ethanol and a micro-spatula.
7.    The inner joints were covered with the toned flap from the endleaves section and adhered with wheat starch paste. Then the new inner joints were lightly retouched with acrylic to approximate the appearance of the original pattern.