Back cover of a bookbinding

Mughal Empire, India, 17th century AD

Stamped leather cover and paper filigree doublure

A series of long cartouches is cut out of the leather surface of the outer cover of the binding. This forms a frame around the central panel. Each cartouche contains embossed decoration of roses and saz or lancet leaves, against a gold-painted background. The central scene is also formed from stamped decoration, of flowering plants, beetles, dragonflies and a frog.

The close study of nature is a common feature in the art of Mughal India. Most of the scene has been painted in a thin gold wash, while small details are in black. The choice of colours may have been influenced by Islamic lacquer bookbindings. These in turn imitated black 'true lacquer' items with incised gold decoration, imported from China during the fifteenth century.

The inner cover has more refined decoration, as is typical of Islamic bookbindings. As on the outside cover a leather frame with cutout lobed cartouches surrounds the central panel. The cartouches and the central panel are filled with interlocking medallions of gilt paper filigree, superimposed on areas of blue, orange, green and black. Some of the paper filigree has been lost, due to its extreme fragility.

The spine and front cover of the book binding are missing.

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Back cover of a bookbinding

Back cover

  • Inner cover

    Inner cover


More information


D. Haldane, Islamic bookbindings in the Vi (London, The World of Islam Festival Trust, 1983)


Height: 320.000 mm
Width: 205.000 mm

Museum number

ME OA 1993.7-27.01



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