Our professional team of conservators and restorers has profound professional experience and excellent academic credentials in the fields of conservation and restoration of manuscript books and leaves, calligraphy panels, documents, scrolls, miniature paintings, bindings, papier-mâché and lacquer arts, with particular concentration and expertise in artefacts of the Islamicate world.

An initial consultation about whether the services of this department are appropriate for your needs is available for free. Please contact us for more information.

Conservation & Restoration

Collectors and enthusiasts of antiquarian manuscripts often have works which require conservation and restoration. The primary material of these objects is paper, which can be extremely delicate and volatile. Inappropriate storage conditions can and do cause severe damage to these items. Valuable works of art and countless collections had been destroyed for these reasons all throughout history. 

Damage from moulds, fungus, insect related problems, humidity, acidity, oxidation, cuts, tears, stains and ink bleeding are common amongst manuscripts. These kinds of damage are sometimes simply the result of the long and sometimes tumultuous history of the object, but sometimes, they are the result of reckless collecting habits and lack of knowledge in the storing and handling of these valuable items.  Consultation with experts, and obtaining appropriate assistance for the conservation and restoration of these treasures, are thus extremely important for preserving these precious resources for future generations.

The most important objective in conservation and restoration is to maintain the original integrity of the item. However, at times, reconstruction of the lost aspects of the item is required to appreciate its original nature. In these cases, the restorer tries to keep the remaining features perfectly intact while reconstructing the lost aspects as closely as possible to the original whole form. This requires expert understanding of the physical and visual characteristics of the item’s style and materials, and of the techniques utilised by the original creators.

But attempts at conservation can come with risks. Inexpert and wrong conservation and restoration methods, employing modern chemical and industrial materials as well as unfamiliarity of the amateur restorers with traditional methodology of book bindings, manuscripts, and documents, may cause irreversible damage to the items. Our professional conservators and restorers bring comprehensive traditional craft knowledge to the task to ensure the best possible result.

Illumination & Decoration

Gold illumination is one of the main traditions in decoration of manuscripts of the Islamic world and India, existing from nearly the beginning of the art of Islamic calligraphy. In this method the illustrator generally uses the highest purity of gold (22 – 24 karat) and natural pigments for illustrating arabesque, floral and geometrical designs in areas such as frontispiece, headpiece, interlines, headings, margins, and colophons.

Styles and schools of gold illumination and decoration vary by place and time. Sometimes the gilding and illumination of a manuscript is concurrent with the date of the manuscript text. However, in many cases, the illumination and decoration may have been added later in a different time and place. In fact it was a common practice of wealthy collectors, nobles and magnates to enhance the value of their collection with lavish illuminations. Even today some collectors prefer to enrich both the aesthetic value as well as the commercial value of their manuscripts with extravagant gold illuminations, but it is extremely important to know that this work must be done in accord with the style and period of the original item and using the same materials and techniques.

Whether it is the restoration of gilded and pigmented illuminations of an item or enhancing its decorations, in our department of conservation and restoration we have a professional team of restorers with profound expertise in gold illumination and decoration who have worked with the best museums, handling and working on some of the most valuable and important works of Islamic art.

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