Mandana Barkeshli, Marinita Stiglitz and Sadra Zekrgoo
The investigation of paper dyes and writing inks used in medieval and early modern Persian manuscripts provides an insight into how these exquisite manuscripts were made. Understanding the composition, manufacture and use of these delicate materials, often with a tendency to fade and degrade, is essential to their preservation.
Recipes describing paper dyeing techniques and preparation of inks, like the prized Peacock ink, are recorded in Persian historical sources. They are mostly written in the form of poetry, to aid memorisation of ingredients and processes. They often emphasise the aesthetic connection between the colour of the paper and the ink, as well as the importance of dyeing paper to avoid the harmful effect of white paper to the eyesight.
Recreating the perfect black ink and beautifully dyed paper requires us to lavish hours of work in the attempt to get closer to the techniques of past craftsmen.