Parchment, pigments and perforations: developing a treatment methodology for an 8th century Qur'an manuscript at the Chester Beatty

  • Kristine Rose-Beers
Keywords: Parchment, Qur'an, conservation, iron-gall, gel


The pressing need to conserve an early eighth-century Qur’an manuscript at the Chester Beatty in Dublin has served as the catalyst for significant investigation of both early Islamic manuscript materials, and the most suitable contemporary conser-vation techniques for this manuscript.
CBL Is 1404 has suffered extensive water damage and subsequent corrosion of the iron containing ink it was written with. It has in turn been subject to numerous layers of previous repairs, many of which are now failing, ineffective, and incurring damage to the manuscript. This study will review the methodology of repair which has been employed to treat this manuscript.
Following experiments using a wide range of materials and techniques, t he resulting treatment plan uses a delicate balance of both traditional and modern parchment conservation techniques to stabilise the fragile folios. Experiments have included traditional methods for old repair removal such as mechanical removal with scalpels and the application of paste poultices, as well as both rigid and formable granular gels. Losses and tears have then been repaired using traditional adhesives with toned Japanese paper.