Dyestuff Identification and Significance of Interleaves from Moroccan Manuscripts of Dalā’il al-Khayrāt

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Amélie Couvrat Desvergnes; Ina Vanden Berghe;


Studies in Conservation, Routledge, Volume 63, Number 4, p.236-250 (2018)


Interleaves are pieces of paper which are meant to protect illuminations, illustrations, and opposite folios from pigment and ink deterioration. The Dalā’il al-Khayrāt or ‘Guidelines to the Blessings’, one of the most widespread prayer books for Muslims, was written by Muhammad ibn Sulaymān al- Jazūlī (died c.1465 CE), a Moroccan mystic Sufi. Depending on the place and date of production, from West (Morocco) to East (Southeast Asia), the manuscripts reflect local styles in the text design and the cover. From the sixteenth up to the end of the nineteenth century, some Moroccan copies were supplied with interleaves which were dyed in a colour range from pale yellow to bright fuchsia. This study comprises seven copies from collections in Qatar for which the physical features of the interleaves were studied and the dyestuffs were identified with HPLC. The analyses conducted at KIK-IRPA in Brussels have revealed that safflower was used as the main dyestuff until the industrial era, when imported synthetic dyes supplanted natural colorants. Conservation issues were also raised since early synthetic dyes found were very unstable to environmental factors. Then, the significance of these materials was explored in comparison with the silk curtains found in European medieval manuscripts.