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The Turkish word, Cilt (Bookbinding) comes from Arabic and originally means ‘leather’. Book binders are thus called ‘Mücellit’. Availability of leather of proper quality and colour is essential for the production of a good binder. Numerous leather binders from XIII and XIV Century Seljuks displayed at Topkapı Palace Museum and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts indicate the advanced level of leather processing at the time. The other material used in binder making is Murakka  (cardboard) (1).

A binder is made up of four sections.
-Lower and upper cover wraps the bottom and top parts of the book.
-Bottom-back cover the back of the book.
Miklep (book-flap) is located on the left cover and wraps the front part. Its tip is generally made of three edges, which is placed in between pages.
Sertap (overlapping) is the connection point of miklep and the cover. At the same time, it provides miklep with room for movement. 

Ornaments on Binder are in two parts, namely on outer and inner faces. On the outer face, the part generally in oval shape is called ‘şemse’ (rosetta) (2). Those with both tips extended for decoration are called ‘salbekli şemse’ (extended rosetta). Ornaments made on the four corners of the cover are called ‘köşebent’ (brackets). In Turkish bookbinding, the part between şemse and köşebent are generally left blank. However, this part is observed to be ornamented in binders from the XVI. Century and these are called ‘mulemma şemse’ (coloured rosetta). The part surrounding the outer surface of the cover is ‘border’, on which round- or oval-shaped pieces called ‘kartuş pafta’ (cartridge sheet) are placed. 

In Turkish book jackets, the inner part is generally ornamented with thick, massive carvings and made up only of a central locket, including, from time to time, brackets in the same fashion. The base is mono or bicoloured. At times, the outer ornament is repeated on the inner surface with different colours than those of the leather. In some Turkish jackets, the inner part is embossed as the outer part. Although rarely, halkar (purely golden) ornaments are also observed.

If the ornamented parts are obtained by cutting those parts together with Murakka and attaching another piece of leather with embossed features to this area, this is called ‘recessed şemse’. When the mould is directly pressed onto the binder without using gilt, this is called ‘cold şemse’. This is the manner used for bookbinding until XV. Century.

The moulds were originally made of iron and wood. Then, the preference shifted to moulds made of tempered camel leather.
Şiraze (silk thread sewing) is the weave that keeps the book’s pages in place and the book and the binder together. 

In the binders from the XV. Century, such motifs stylized from nature (3) are used as leaves, rumi (4), clouds, penç (hexagonal) and hatayi. In this period, şemse is round-shaped. The first example of this period was used to cover a musical book presented to Sultan Murad II in 1434-35. 
The jacket of the book titled ‘Şerh-i Divan al-Hamase’ of Merzuki written by Şemseddin Kudsi the Calligrapher for Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1464 is one of the first examples of this age’s taste in Turkish arts finding its national character in bookbinders. In this binder, embossed motives are ornamented in gilt with striped ornaments applied with pointed hot iron on top.  

In the XVI. Century, bookbinders established a community like the other craftsmen within the Ottoman Palace for the first time. Leather jackets of the time are ornamented with either bicoloured gilt – yellow and green – or only gilt on the adorned part and the embossed decorations on top. The base is the original colour of the leather. 

The şemse is wholly oval and extended as in the XV. Century. Cartridges are applied on the outer frame.
In the jackets of this century, garnet, sextet flower, tiger stripes and dots and especially caterpillar on leaf motifs were added to the motifs of the previous period. The jacket of ‘Hünername’ displayed in Topkapı Palace Museum has embossed şemse, extensions and brackets, although the areas between these elements are covered in gilt motifs.
The best example of jackets produced by covering Murakka with fabric instead of leather is the jacket of the book titled ‘Nusretname’ of Ali displayed in Topkapı Palace Museum  .  The book has an ornament called ‘zerduzi’ embroidery on red satin and presents all features of a leather jacket. 

In Turkish leather binders of the XVII. Century, an apparent decline in the quality of composition, application of motifs and workmanship was observed despite the lack of any changes in technique. In many jackets, bracket and border ornaments were discontinued and instead, large şemse with side and top extensions were used. In some, oval şemse was applied and thick zencerek (chain-like, interwoven motif) was installed in the periphery instead of the outside border. Extensions were oversized and lost the grace they enjoyed in the XVI. Century.
The most beautiful example of this period is the jacket of Quran written in 1665 by Derviş Ali and displayed in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. A clutter is observed in the jacket’s ornament. However, the bookbinders of the time managed to maintain their nobility in colour and abstained from using fawn colours in random patterns. 

The XVIII. Century witnessed continuity in the use of classic leather covers. The outer face of the book titled ‘Zübde-i Asar el Mevahib ve’l Envar’ written in 1709 for Ahmet III does not fall short of the XVI. Century jackets.
As of the first half of this century, the production shifted to jackets of different types and techniques: Lacquer binders, binders produced with realist motifs (5), Yek-şah binders produced by pushing iron onto gilt-covered leather surface and binders with Rococo-style (6) ornaments. 

In the XIX-XX. Centuries, binders produced with the iron inlay technique and rococo binders were extensively produced and these new techniques broke all ties with classic binders. Nevertheless, despite all influences, Turkish binders are original works easily distinguished from others with their specific characteristics.

Turkish Lacquer Binders (7)

Although lacquer works produced by processing such watercolour and golden gilt into such materials as brush and wood, leather and murakka had been observed in wooden sarcophagi in ancient Egypt five thousand years before, Turkish lacquer binders were unprecedented until the second half of the XVII. Century.

Turkish lacquer works only present stylized natural motifs and realist flowers. The works of  Ali Üsküdari are wholly stylized and his most beautiful work is the jacket produced in 1723 for Sultan Ahmet III in murakka and displayed in Topkapı Palace Museum  . The jacket produced by Ahmet Hazine in 1727 for another murakka and the anonymous jacket of the book titled Tefsir-al-Celaleyn of 1727 displayed at Süleymaniye Manuscript Library are good examples of Turkish lacquer binders. 

Two landscapes produced by Abdullah Buhari on a book cover in 1728 are the first landscape compositions in Turkish painting processed with a Western approach to painting. These are such rare works that can be regarded as unprecedented masterpieces in Turkish lacquer bookbinding.

Lacquer artworks start to go into a decline after the end of the XVIII. Century. As of the XIX. Century, classic ornaments were replaced by baroque rococo style ornaments. Nevertheless, despite all influences, Turkish binders are original works easily distinguished from others with their specific characteristics.

For more information  see... 





Source:Kemal Çığ, Türk Kitap Kapları, Doğan Kardeş Basımevi, İstanbul 1971
     Zeren Tanındı, Osmanlı Sanatında Cilt, Osmanlı 11, Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, Ankara 1999
     Mehmet Ağaoğlu, Persian Bookbindings of the XV. Century, 1935
    M.E.Özen, Türk Cilt Sanatı, T.İş Bankası 377, İstanbul 1998
     R.M.Meriç, Türk Cilt Sanatı Tarihi Araştırmaları I, Vesikalar, Ankara 1954
     J.Raby-Z.Tanındı, Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th. Century, The Foundation of an Ottoman Court Style, ed., T.Stanley, London 1993
     Z. Tanındı, Rugani Türk Kitap Kaplarının Erken Örnekleri, İstanbul 1984
     Z.Tanındı, Türk Cilt Sanatı, Başlangıcından Bu güne Türk Sanatı, Ankara 1993
     Z.Tanında, Türk Cilt Sanatında Kumaş, Sanat Dünyamız 32, 1985
     Oktay Aslanapa, Osmanlı Devri Cilt Sanatı, Türkiyemiz, S.38, 1982

(1) Uğur Derman, Türk Sanatında Murakkalar, İlgi, S.32, İstanbul 1981

(2) Y.Özcan, Türk Kitap Sanatında Şemse Motifi, Kültür Bakanlığı 1124,Ankara 1990

(3) Cahide Keskiner, Türk Süsleme Sanatlarında Stilize Çiçekler, Hatai, Ankara 2000

(4) Selçuk Mülayım, Rumi Motif, Thema Laorusse, C.6, İstanbul 1983
     Selçuk Mülayım, Rumi Motifin Zoomorfik Kökeni, Uluslar arası Osmanlı Öncesi Türk Kültürü Kongresi Bildirileri, Ankara 1989

(5) Yıldız Demiriz, Osmanlı Kitap Sanatında Naturalist Çiçekler, İstanbul 1986

(6) Ş.aksoy, Kitap Süslemelerinde Türk Barok Rokoko Uslubu, Sanat 6, 1977
     B.Mahir, Kanuni Döneminde Yaratılmış Yaygın Bezeme Uslubu; Saz Yolu, Türkiyemiz 54, 1998

(7) For more information on the  Lacquer Binders, see...
    Kemal Çığ, 18.Yüzyıl Lake Tezhipçilerinden Ali al-Üsküdari, Türk Tarih, Arkeologya ve Etnografya Dergisi,S.5,  İstanbul 1949
     Kemal Çığ, Türk Lake Tezyinatının bir Şaheseri, Türkiyemiz, S.7, 1977
     Kemal Çığ, Türk Lake Müzehhipleri ve Eserleri, Sanat Tarihi Yıllığı,S.3, İstanbul 1969
     Süheyl Ünver, Türk Sanatı Tarihinde Edirnekari Lake İşleri ve Sanatkarları, Vakıflar DergisiS.6, 1965
     Süheyl Ünver, Müzehhip ve Çiçek ressamı Üsküdarlı Ali ve Eserleri, Tepe Lab Yay. No6 İstanbul 1954

Photo:M.Özdemir-N.Kayabaşı, Geçmişten Günümüze Dericilik, Kültür Bakanlığı,Ankara 2007

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