Baghdad: Parchmenters

Date: 794-95

Ibn al-Nadim (d. 990) claims that during the civil war that occurred during the caliphate of al-Amin (r. 809-813), the parchment in the storerooms of the city were ransacked, causing scribes to have to use palimpsests. Ibn al-Nadim also gives details about the manufacturing process. He writes that Persian scribes made use of buffalo, oxen and sheep skins. These were cured using lime, but softened with dates. See also: Bookbinders; Paper Makers; Papyrus Makers; Scribes; Painters.

Citation: Helen Loveday, Islamic Paper: A Study of the ancient Craft (London: Archetype for the Don Baker Memorial Fund, 2001), p. 13.


Date: Late tenth century

Ibn al-Nadim (d. 995 or 998) was a Baghdadi book merchant in the tenth century. He records that books in Baghdad used to be made of parchment, and tanned using nawrah, but this produced brittle sheets. Later they were tanned with dates to provide more flexibility. See also: Paper Maker; Calligrapher; Scribe; Qurʾan Scribe.

Citation: Ibn al-Nadim, Abu al-Faraj Muhammad. The Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadīm: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture, trans. Bayard Dodge (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1970), pp. 39-40.

Also: Milwright, Marcus. Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), p. 167.