« Glossary | References | SIMS »

This is a short and incomplete list of resources related to Islamic manuscript studies. It contains primarily items in English and is meant to help you get started and find other resources.


These sites contain volumes of information that will help you. Bookmark them!

General Intros and Guides

Atiyeh, George N., ed. (1995) The Book in the Islamic World: The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East. Albany.

Déroche, François, ed. (2006) Islamic Codicology: An Introduction to the Study of Manuscripts in Arabic Script. London. (Orig. published in French, 2000)

Gacek, Adam (2001) The Arabic Manuscript Tradition: A Glossary of Technical Terms & Bibliography. Leiden.

—. (2008) The Arabic Manuscript Tradition: A Glossary of Technical Terms & Bibliography– Supplement. Leiden.

—. (2009) Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Leiden.

Lit, L.W.C. van. (2020) Among Digitized Manuscripts: Philology, Codicology, Paleography in a Digital World. Leiden. Free to download!


  • Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
  • Manuscripts of the Middle East
  • Manuscripta Orientalia
  • Journal of Qur’anic studies
  • Manuscript Studies

Reference works


Barakat, Heba Nayel et al. (2017) Islamic Bookbinding. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.

Bosch, Gulnar, et al., eds. (1981) Islamic Bindings and Bookmaking: A Catalogue of an Exhibition. Chicago: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. available online

Scheper, Karin. (2018) The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding: Methods, Materials and Regional Varieties. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Second revised edition, Leiden.


The resources on illustration are numerous, what follows is a small selection of works to get you started ordered by date:

Hillenbrand, Robert, ed. (2000) Persian Painting from the Mongols to the Qajars. London and New York.

Grabar, Oleg and Cynthia Robinson, eds. (2001) Islamic Art and Literature. Princeton.

Canby, Sheila R., ed. (2002) Safavid Art and Architecture. London.

Hillenbrand, Robert, ed. (2004) Shahnama: The Visual Language of the Persian Book of Kings. Burlington, VT.

Contadini, Anna ed. (2007) Arab Painting: Text and Image in Illustrated Arabic Manuscripts. Leiden and Boston.

Hillenbrand, Robert (2012) Studies in the Islamic Arts of the Book. London.

Blair, Sheila S. (2014) Text and Image in Medieval Persian Art. Edinburgh.

Specific to illumination, the resources are far fewer:

Akimushkin, Oleg and Anatol Ivanov (1979) “The Art of Illumination” in Basil Gray, ed. The Arts of the Book in Central Asia, pp. 35-57. Boulder, CO.

Simpson, Marianna S. (1987) “Manuscript Illumination, Islamic” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages 8.

—. (1992) “Islamic Art: Painted Book Decoration: Other Manuscripts” in Dictionary of Art.

Blair, Sheila and Jonathan Bloom (2003) “Ornamentation and Illumination,” in Jane Dammen McAuliffe, ed. Encyclopedia of the Qur’an 3: 593-603.

Canby, Sheila R. (2003) “Safavid Illumination” in Jon Thompson and Sheila R. Canby, eds., Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Safavid Iran, 1501-1576. New York and Milan.


Görke, A. and K. Hirschler, eds. (2011) “Manuscript Notes as Documentary Sources” in Beiruter Texte und Studien 129 Würzberg: Ergon Verlag in Kommission.

Hirschler, Konrad (2012) The Written Word in the Medieval Arabic Lands. Edinburgh.

Liebrenz, Boris, ed. (2018) The History of Books and Collections through Manuscript Notes, Special Issue: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 9, 2-3.

Seyller, John (1997) “The Inspection and Valuation of Manuscripts in the Imperial Mughal Library,” in Artibus Asiae 57, iii-iv: 243-349.

Website: Seals Database, Chester Beatty Library [currently unavailable].


Bloom, Jonathan M. (2001) Paper Before Print: the History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World. New Haven.

Humbert,Geneviève (1998) “Papiers non filigranés utilisé au Proche-Orient jusqu’en 1450: Essai de typologie.” Journal Asiatique 286, 1: 1–54.

Karabacek, Joseph (2001) Arab Paper, translated by Don Baker and Suzy Dittmar with additional notes by Don Baker. London.

Loveday, Helen (2001) Islamic Paper: A Study of the Ancient Craft. London.

Regourd, Anne, ed. (2018) The Trade in Papers Marked with Non-Latin Characters: Documents and History = Le commerce des papiers à marques à caractères non-latins. Documents et histoire. Leiden.

Walz, Terence (2011) “The Paper Trade of Egypt and the Sudan in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its re-export to the Bilad as-Sudan.” In The Trans-Saharan Book Trade: Manuscript Culture, Arabic Literacy, and Intellectual History in Muslim Africa, Eds. Graziano Krätli and Ghislaine Lydon, Leiden: 73-108.


Blair, Sheila S. (2006) Islamic Calligraphy. Edinburgh.

Derman, M. Uğur (1998) Letters in Gold: Ottoman Calligraphy from the Sakip Sabanci Collection, Istanbul. New York.

Ekhtiar, Maryam (2018) How to Read Islamic Calligraphy. New York.

Fisher, Carol Garrett (1991) Brocade of the Pen: The Art of Islamic Writing. East Lansing, MI.

George, Alain (2010) The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy. London.

Hanaway, Willliam L. and Brian Spooner (1995) Reading Nasta’liq: Persian and Urdu Hands from 1500 to the Present. Costa Mesa, CA.

Mandel Khan, Gabriel (2001) Arabic Script: Styles, Variants and Calligraphic Adaptations. New York & London.

McWilliams, Mary and David J. Roxburgh (2007) Traces of the Callligrapher: Islamic Callligraphy in Practice, c. 1600-1900. Houston.

Roxburgh. David J. (2007) Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an. Houston.

Schimmel, Annemarie (1984) Calligraphy and Islamic Culture. New York and London.

Teh Gallop, Annabel (1991) Golden Letters: Writing Traditions of Indonesia. London.

The concludes the References. You can also go check out the other SIMS Resources, look at the Glossary for more photos, or go back to the Content Pages.