Photo Documentation

Front cover: before treatment

Back cover: before treatment

Old repair: before treatment

Old repair 2: before treatment

Opening characteristic: before treatment

Front cover: after treatment

Back cover: after treatment

Old repair: after treatment

Old repair 2: after treatment

Opening characteristic: After treatment


Treatment Record Documentation

Conservator: Xiaoping Cai

Date of Examination:  11/10/2016

Date of Completion:  01/12/2017

Title:  Muntakhab-i Mas̲navī-i sharīf

Author: Rūmī, Jalāl al-Dīn Maulana (1207-1273)

Imprint: India: Jalhārī Bahāʼikhān (now Pakistan) 1261 AH/ 1845 CE.

Owner: African & Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress

Call Number: PK6479 .A75 1845

LCCN Permalink:

A Brief description of the object:

The manuscript is composed of 14 gatherings varying in size from 4 to 14 leaves. There are 139 leaves in total. There are six pages which has decorated frame with red ink. The manuscript is written in Nastaʿlīq script. 



Binding: This manuscript is bound in leather, which has a leather spine and narrow leather strips covering the edges of the pasteboards. The pasteboard is lightweight and thin, with about 4 pieces of paper waste pasted together. The board seems to be contemporary to the text-block, with leather strips, which are from goat skin and thick, covering around the edges. The area in between the leather frame is covered with colored paper of dark brown. The endcaps are almost missing, with only some leather residue left. The leather residue suggests that the endcaps had been cut flush with the board edges.  Sewn on endbands are present at both head and tail. The primary endband is sewn on a rolled paper core with cotton thread, which is similar to the one used for text-block sewing. It goes through the center of each gathering and through the liner as well. The secondary endband was sewn in chevron pattern with threads of red and white color. No title information is present on the exterior of the manuscript.


The text-block is sewn with a link-stitch sewing on two stations.  The spine of the text-block is lined with cloth from head to tail, and extend beyond the spine edges with about 15mm on each side. Besides, the spine lining is adhered to the inner side of the board. A single leaf is used as pastedown. 


Text-block: The text-block is composed of thick, grayish, unsized Eastern paper and Eastern laid paper. There are noticeable inclusions within the paper, such as grass. In this Persian manuscript, sheets of paper were folded in half, and up to six of these folded sheets were grouped into gatherings. In its present form the manuscript consists of 14 gatherings. The gatherings present an inconsistent pattern (full description about collation is attached at the back). There are two types of paper have been used. Those with darker color (eg. gathering #3) have scraps of paper glued on to either the top or bottom of pages to make them a uniform size for binding. Sometimes they are glued along the center fold as well. These scraps of paper also contain writing unrelated to the text. There are also some small particles around the pages (probably they are adhesive residue). There is no endsheet present. The text is written in two columns, about 12-17 lines per column.  The majority of the text is written in black carbon ink, with some words written with red ink. The red ink has also been used to rule the frame lines and to draw some decoration patterns.  There are catch-words on verso of all the leaves.



Binding: The binding is in poor condition overall and has been heavily repaired before. The right board is missing. While the left board is still attached to the spine lining, the covering material is severely worn, abraded and lifted up.  The leather strips around the edges are almost missing and only a small portion is left on the for edge side. The leather spine is missing, with only some tiny pieces of leather left. The spine lining is lifted and attached solely by the tie down from the endbands. The sewing is in fair condition with the thread getting loose.


Text-block: The text paper is in fair condition overall. All the pages get abrasion at the corners and there are also some small tears throughout. There are traces of insect damaged holes which can be seen in the manuscript, especially in those papers which are slightly darker. Previous mending work is evident throughout. A number of pages have been mended along head, tail and also spine edge with paper waste. Almost all of the mends had been done with paper, except the last folio which was mended with pressure sensitive tape. Currently, most of the previously applied mends appear to be structurally stable. There are unknown number of folios missing after folio 4, 12, and 57, which suggested by the catch-words found on the verso of these folios. 


(1) The left board and the spine lining will be removed.

(2) The sewing thread will be cut off and the gatherings will be pulled apart.

(3) The manuscript will be surface cleaned thoroughly.

(4) The sensitive-pressure tape at the verso of the last leave will be removed and the adhesive residue will be cleaned.

(5) Tears and fragile edges will be mended with thin Japanese tissue. Losses will be repaired with kozo paper.

(6) The text-block will be re-collated. For single leaves, kozo paper will be used to make a hook. For missing leaves, kozo paper will be inserted as a blank leaf. For separated bifolio, thin Japanese tissue will be used for guarding.

(7) New endleaves section of two bifolios will be added by using handmade paper.

(8) The text-block will be resewn with linen thread.

(9) A layer of Japanese paper will be applied onto the spine of the text block as a separation.

(10) A piece of cotton cloth will be applied onto the spine as an overall spine lining.

(11) Sewn on endbands of Islamic style will be made at the head and tail of the spine of the text-block.

(12) New boards for the covers will be fabricated with mount board and toned handmade paper.

(13) Leather will be prepared for covering the spine and edges of the board.

(14) The original left board will be consolidated and kept in a Mylar sleeve.

(15) A clamshell box will be made to rehouse the manuscript.


(1) The endband tie-down threads were cut carefully with a small scissor. Then the left board and the cloth lining were separated from the text-block mechanically.

(2) The text-block sewing threads were cut off and the gatherings were pulled apart carefully.

(3) Surface clean: All the pages were dry cleaned by using a soft brush and blotter edges. The edges of a small piece of blotter were torn, and then the deckle edge was used to pick up ground-in dirt from the manuscript, especially at the head and tail.

(4) Removal of adhesive residue: After the whole text-block had been pulled apart, there were some adhesive residue left on the outside of the spine folds. Therefore, 3% of methyl cellulose poultices were used for softening the adhesive residue and then they were removed with a spatula.

(5) Removal of old paper repairs:  Most of the old paper mends were still stable, but there were several old repairs along the spine fold were fairly thick and thus creating a breaking edge when the leaf flex. For this kind of old repairs, firstly the thick paper was thinned down with a scalpel. Then a thin layer of 5% methyl cellulose poultice was employed on top of the paper residue. When the adhesive became soft, the paper and adhesive residue was removed with a spatula.  Besides, old repairs in-between folio 33 and 34, folio 67 and 68 had been done very roughly, and they were obscuring some text close to the spine fold. Therefore, these old repairs were peeled off carefully and then 5% methyl cellulose poultice was used to remove the paper and adhesive residue.

(6) Removal of the pressure sensitive tape: The last folio of the manuscript has big losses and 6 small strips of pressure sensitive tape had been applied across the center of the page horizontally. For treatment, the a small piece of RK 1 is applied onto the other side, as a facing tissue, with 2% Klucel G in ethanol. The tape film was lifted up mechanically by using a spatula. Then the sticky adhesive residue was carefully picked up with a crepe eraser.

(7) Mending and guarding: Small tears was repaired with pre-toned RK 0 (Paper Nao).  Losses were infilled and repaired using Korean chamdak paper #1003 and RK 1 supporting tissue. Japanese machine-made kozo tissue RK 1 (Paper Nao) was used for guarding bifolios that had slightly or partially damaged folds. Besides, Tengujo 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). Wheat starch paste was used when there was no sensitive media around the repair. For those areas that had sensitive media around, the mixture of wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose was used.

(8) Re-collating the text-block:  For single folios, when the paper guards were dry, they were folded around the section fold. For missing pages, blank pages of Korean paper #1502 was inserted as a replacement. For the new end-leaf gatherings, western handmade paper (Griffen Mill) was used to create a two-bifolios structure.

(9) Sewing: The original link stitch sewing on two stations was placing too much tension on the paper, therefore it was decided to re-sew the text-block using chain stitch 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. Two new holes were made in the middle of the folds, and the endband holes were also used for the re-sewing. The sewing thread (Barbour Flax 100%linen 18/3) was soak in ethanol for 5 minutes so that the starch infill could be get rid of and the thread became softer.

(10) The spine was slightly rounded. And then a kozo paper was applied onto the spine of the text-block with wheat starch paste. When it was dry, another layer of lining of aero-cotton was applied onto the spine with wheat starch paste.

(11) Endband: Loops of thread were going over a 3mm wide leather strip, 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 Japanese silk thread.

(12) Fabrication of the boards: The covering boards were fabricated with 2 ply mount board and thick kozo paper (59gsm Korean paper #1901). They were put together with wheat starch paste and pressed under weight for overnight. The kozo paper was toned with Fluid Acrylic. When they were dry, a stone was used for polishing the surface of the toned paper.  Then the boards were cut to the size as the text-block.

(13) Preparation of the leather: The tanned goat skin was dyed with BASF leather dyes dilute with ethanol. After the leather was dry, the hair side was dampened with a piece of wet cotton. Then it was pressed between tin plates for 2 minutes, so that the surface pattern would be less attractive.  When it was dry, leather strips were cut for the frame.

(14) Aero-cotton spine lining extensions were adhered to the inner side of the boards using wheat starch paste. The head, tail and for-edge of the boards were covered with strips of leather. The spine leather was pasted up with wheat starch paste, and it was put on to the spine. Blind tool lines were created around the leather frames with a metal folder while the leather strips were still moist.

 (15) Rehousing: The original left board was consolidated and encapsulated in-between Mylar sheets and housed in a four-flap enclosure. The manuscript was also housed in a four-flaps enclosure. Then they were placed into a custom-made clamshell box.



In this Persian manuscript, sheets of paper were folded in half, and up to six of these folded sheets were grouped into gatherings. In its present form the manuscript consists of 14 gatherings. The gatherings present an inconsistent pattern. Gathering 1 has 2 bifolios; Gathering 2 has 4 bifolios; Gathering 3 has 4 bifolios and 2 outside tipped on folios; Gathering 4 has 4 bifolios and 4 outside tipped on folios; Gathering 5 has 6 bifolios; Gathering 6 has 5 bifolios and 1 separated folio; Gathering 7 has 5 bifolios and 1 outside tipped on folio; Gathering 8 has 5 bifolios; Gathering 9 has 4 bifolios and 1 outside tipped on folio; Gathering 10 has 5 bifolios; Gathering 11, 12, 13 has 6 bifolios; Gathering 14 has 3 bifolios. 


There are folios missing after folio 4, 12, and 57, which suggested by the catchphrase found on the verso side of these folios. 


The diagrams below show the collation of the manuscript before and after treatment. The lines are bifolios or folios, showing how the sheets were folded and grouped together. The black lines indicate the medium weight paper, while the brown lines indicate the much heavier brown paper. The number to the right of the lines is the folio number.