Our paper conservator is spending the summer looking very closely at intriguing documents that will soon be on view in Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic World. This page from a Qur’an was written on pink paper, now faded, and embellished with gold leaf and opaque colors. The medallion shown in the detail has lost some of the brittle paint where the paper has been creased. Fortunately, the remaining paint is secure, and with careful handling, no more paint will be lost. The gold leaf and the black ink made from very fine carbon particles have fared better than the paints made from coarser ground minerals.
The page, which was previously bound into a book, has holes through the paper and across the surface from insect grazing as well as from degradation of the paper by copper-containing pigments. Japanese paper repairs done before the page entered the museum helped keep the fragile paper intact. The paper conservator will improve the appearance of the existing repairs before the page is framed and installed in the gallery. Collecting Calligraphy will be on view across from the Museum Café in Galleries 124-125 from September 7 until January 27.
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