BPG East Asian Book Formats

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Book and Paper Group Wiki > Book Conservation Wiki > East Asian Book Formats

This page covers the structure and conservation of East Asian book formats. See also: Book Boards, East Asian Scrolls, and Fastenings and Furniture. For information on other binding traditions, see Bookbinding Traditions by Region or Culture.

Wiki Compilers: Dan Paterson, Victoria Wong
Wiki Contributors: Jody Beenk, Xiaoping Cai, Aude Gabory, Marieka Kaye, Katherine Kelly, Paulina Kralka, Kimberly Kwan, Lesley Liu, Elizabeth Ryan, Yungjin Shin

Copyright 2024. The AIC Wiki is a publication of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). It is published as a convenience for the members of AIC. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with and citing the wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page.

Cite this page:

American Institute for Conservation (AIC). "BPG East Asian Book Formats." AIC Wiki. June 14, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_East_Asian_Book_Formats.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Book formats from China, Japan, and Korea have many commonalities from religious, intellectual, and cultural exchanges going back centuries. This section presents a brief introduction to bound and unbound textual works from each country with an emphasis on China.  As more content is developed additional sections on Korean and Japanese traditions will be added. From an organizational standpoint, grouping traditions by culture and geographical location simplified the editing process.  However, given the interconnected history and many similarities the compilers have noted tangential practices across all three traditions. Wherever possible, similar and related characteristics between book formats from the three countries are grouped together.

History and Characteristics of East Asian Book Formats[edit | edit source]

Scroll Format[edit | edit source]

In East Asia, the scroll format first appeared in China, however, it is unclear whether it developed independently of its Indian counterpart or whether some important features were adopted by the Chinese from Indian prototypes. Although there are no extant examples, the shape of the stone gate at Sanchi seems to have been derived from an actual scroll. Before the invention of paper ca. 100 AD, book rolls were typically made of bound bamboo or wood strips, as well as silk textiles. The earliest surviving examples of scroll manuscripts written on silk with a bamboo or wooden strip affixed to the end to facilitate rolling were found in the third tomb in Mawangdui, near Changsha, Hunan province dating to the 2nd century BCE.

Gradual popularisation of paper as a writing support, alongside introduction of Buddhism with its notion of merit-making through copying of the religious texts, further stimulated production and circulation of books. Notably, one of the largest collections of manuscripts dating from the 4th to the 10th century, predominantly in rolled format, has been discovered in Mogao Caves near Dunhuang, Gansu Province. The scroll format has been extensively used throughout the first millenium AD for both manuscripts and woodblock printed books. It remained the dominant book form throughout the Tang dynasty period (618-917). While some Buddhist and Daoist books continued to be produced in a scroll form in the second millenium, for the purpose of secular publishing it was slowly replaced by other book binding formats, notably the newly-created butterfly binding during the Song dynasty (960-1279) period.

In Japan, scroll manuscripts are known as kansubon 巻子本. The scroll format was transmitted to Japan from China, and is the earliest form of book known there. The earliest extant examples were imported copies of Buddhist texts known as kyōkan 経巻 brought in the 7th century. During the 7th and 8th centuries, rolled books were given simple mountings, following contemporary Chinese practice. During the Heian period (794-1185) more ornamental styles of mounting were introduced. Use of coloured and decorated papers for sutra-copying also became common around that time. New types of book formats and bindings imported from China gradually replaced the scroll format towards the end of the Heian period (794-1185). However, it remained in use for Buddhist religious texts, illustrated narratives (known as emakimono 絵巻物) and paintings during the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and later on. While the production of rolled books significantly declined by the Edo period (1603-1868), the format was sometimes intentionally chosen for printed books depicting official processions and scenic views. It should also be noted that occasionally single sheets and scraps were mounted together in a scroll format. Similarly, printed books in other formats were at times disassembled and remounted by their owners.

In Korea, manuscripts in rolled format are known as gweonjabon (卷子本) or gweonchukjang (卷軸裝). Earliest extant examples are Buddhist handwritten scrolls dating to the Unified Silla period (668-935). Due to peaceful relations and intensive cultural exchange with Tang dynasty China, the art of the rolled book flourished at the time. The scroll format slowly fell out of widespread use after introduction of other book binding formats in the mid-Goryeo dynasty period (918-1392), and became almost exclusively used for paintings and calligraphy rather than literature. However, some examples of scroll manuscripts are still found among official court documents of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910).

For Chinese painting and calligraphy handscrolls, see Chinese handscroll terminology and diagrams.

Structure[edit | edit source]

Despite some small, mostly aesthetical variations, Chinese, Japanese and Korean rolled books share the same main characteristics. In the case of paper books, a long continuous roll would have been created by pasting together a number of individual paper sheets. As text would be written and read from left to right, a bamboo roller-rod would be attached to the left end of the roll for the book to be wrapped around it. The roller tips were often decorated with precious materials such as wood (often lacquered or with mother-of-pearl incrustations), ivory, gold, porcelain, coral or tortoise shell. Early, pre-Tang, examples were typically unlined and unmounted. Sometimes sheets were further reinforced with paper or cloth lining. It was also popular practice to paste an extra blank sheet of paper at the beginning of the scroll to protect the manuscript.

The paper was commonly dyed yellow using the juice obtained from the bark of the Amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense), known as huang bo, which served not only decorative but also insect repellent purposes. The earliest written description of the dyeing process is found in the agricultural treatise Ch’i-min yao-shu (Important Skills of the Common People) written by Ku Szu-hsieh circa 533-544 AD. During the Tang dynasty, the paper, which was mostly made of hemp, mulberry and ramie fibers, was also often burnished with wax to ensure a smooth surface for writing. Top and bottom edges were sometimes reinforced with added silk borders.

Non-Sewn Formats[edit | edit source]

Pothi[edit | edit source]

In Pothi structures long thin sheets of a writing surface (usually palm leaves or paper, sometimes lacquered stiffened fabric) are stacked loosely on top of one another and protected by wooden boards. In some styles, a string runs through holes in the center or near both ends of the manuscript to hold the leaves together.

This format originated in India where the thin shape of the palm leaves dictated the format and size of the structure. Buddhist pothi books were introduced in China in the third and fourth centuries. In China the format was adapted using wood and bamboo, and eventually paper. As separate leaves held loosely together, Chinese paper pothi are important in the development of Chinese binding structures and can be found in collections throughout the world. There are no records of pothi bindings being used in Korea or Japan.

Whirlwind Binding[edit | edit source]

The whirlwind binding developed during the Tang dynasty (618–907). Many were rebound during the Song dynasty (960-1279) therefore few historic examples survive. Due to the lack of direct historic evidence, our knowledge about this format is derived primarily from descriptions in historic sources. As a result there are various interpretations of this structure and some confusion about its features.

One version is a modified concertina binding in which one piece of cover paper was attached to both sides with pages unattached to the spine so that a ‘gust of wind could blow the pages out of the book’ ( K. Ikegami, Japanese Bookbinding, trans. D. Kinzer (New York: Weatherhill, 1986, 59–61). In Japanese, senpuyo is written with the same three Chinese characters, 旋風葉, meaning respectively ‘whirlwind’ (first two characters) and ‘leaf’, but its name has been traditionally interpreted in western literature as ‘flutter bookbinding’ (Minah Song (2009) “The history and characteristics of traditional Korean books and bookbinding,”). See diagram below right.

Another version is thought to be the ‘dragon scale’ or ‘fish scale’ binding ’ (Chinese: longlinzhuang 龍鱗裝) or ‘fish scale’ (Chinese: Yuling zhuang魚鱗裝) binding. In this style sheets of varying lengths are stacked on top of each other with the shortest on top and longest on the bottom. This layout is conducive for reference books.

Wiki diagram whirlwind 1.jpg

Contemporary artist ZHANG Xiaodong’s dragon scale bindings

  • https://www.cnn.com/style/article/china-ancient-art-dragon-scale-bookbinding/index.html
  • https://www.cnn.com/videos/arts/2018/03/29/new-zhang-xiaodong-dragon-scale-bookbinding.cnn/video/playlists/cnn-style-art-videos/

( Minah Song, 2009)

In Korea the an example of the concertina whirlwind style can be found in in the late Joseon dynasty

Accordion Binding[edit | edit source]

Chinese: jingzhe zhuang 經摺裝

The accordion binding, also referred to as sutra or pleated binding, is often associated with Buddhist texts and has a long history of being employed for devotional works (Martinique, p. 20).  The covers or boards of folded format books are typically attached to the outermost folded leaf of the book block at the front and back as pastedowns.  Boards are the width and height of the folded text paper so typically there are no or very small squares.  Text paper is folded in a repeating pattern and the folds alternate as either a “peak” or “valley”.  Depending on the length of the text, multiple sheets may be used to form the book block by attaching sheets end to end with a small overlap positioned at a fold.

The origin of the folded format for sutras has two likely sources, the scroll or pothi.  According to Xiao Zhentang (Helliwell trans, 136) the accordion format is derived from the scroll.  Galambos points out the earliest surviving examples of accordion format are from Dunhuang (24, Dunhuang Manuscript Culture, Studies in Manuscript Culture, 22, de Grutyer, 2020, accessed via creative commons) dating to the 9th or 10th century.  While the format is similar to a scroll that has been folded, some of the surviving examples from Dunhuang have characteristics of the pothi format, such as non-functioning thread holes (Galambos 29).

The act of copying or printing sutras is considered meritorious and is one explanation for the formats continual use for many centuries (see Sam von Schaik, p. 963-965, Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet, Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Brill 2015)

Text block construction:  Paper is the most common support for Chinese accordion format devotional books.  Depending on the length of the text, multiple sheets would be adhered end to end to form the book block. In some cases the paper within a single text block is not consistent and can vary significantly.

Examples of proto papers or bark material can be found in other accordion book traditions from Southeast Asia.

Media:  Buddhist texts are often produced via xylography which was used in China at least as early as the 9th century for printing.  Because of the devotional nature of printing Buddhist material, or financing the printing, the printing blocks were often retained by monasteries for multiple generations.  The blocks could be reused as needed, often through patrons financing the cost of paper and ink. The text is usually vertical and parallel to the fold.  Due to the thin paper typically used in sutra bindings the text and images are most often present on only one side of the leaf leaving the underside blank.

Folded Album Structures[edit | edit source]

Chinese: ceye 冊頁

Folded albums are structurally and stylistically similar to accordion binding but have notable differences.  They are often employed for displaying visual content. Within album formats there are different styles, including jingzhe shi 經折式 and tuipeng shi 推篷式.  Additionally there are styles of albums, hudie shi 蝴蝶式 and huoye shi 活頁式, that do not rely on a repeating folding pattern of the text paper and are therefore structurally separate from this category.

The covers of album structures commonly incorporated pasteboard or wooden boards, either covered in silk or other textile. Wooden boards were sometimes left exposed and may have been given a soft chamfered edge on all four sides.  Wooden boards are generally thicker than the pasteboard style, often more than 3 mm.  A paper or textile label on the front board is also common regardless of the board material.  The title may also be carved directly into an exposed wooden board.

Text block construction: Text blocks for album structures are typically multiple layers of paper laminated together for a more rigid support.  Small dots of adhesive are often incorporated near the underside of folds to prevent them from being opened, thereby ensuring that the book is flipped through rather than positioned flat on a surface.  In general, album structures may be more square in shape while accordion structures for devotional texts tend to be rectangular.

Media:  Media in albums may include hand colored images, rubbings, calligraphy, or drawings.  The media may be applied directly or, in some cases, mounted to the paper support.

Butterfly Binding[edit | edit source]

Korean: hojeobjang; Chinese: hudie zhuang 蝴蝶裝

Developed during the Song dynasty in China. The butterfly binding is the first Asian folded single leaf book. It was in use until the beginning of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). Each sheet of paper is folded in half with the printed sides facing each other. The sheets were pasted together so the folded side formed the spine. This format appeared alongside the development of woodblock printing. With the outer margins of the pages left blank, it would be easy to trim away any damage incurred along the outer edges. But obvious disadvantages are that the folded pages could easily break away at the spine with use and the adhesive at the spine is attractive to insects often resulting in loss of text.

Wrapped Back Binding[edit | edit source]

Chinese: baobei zhuang 包背裝

Wrapped back bindings were used in China during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), and by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). In this structure the leaves are folded in the opposite direction to butterfly bindings. Sheets of paper were printed on one side and then folded with the printed side facing out. The folded edges were the fore-edge and the spine was the cut edge. Paper twists were passed through the spine to hold the structure together. The paper twists were trimmed and pasted down and a cover attached.

In Korea, the wrapped-back binding was used from the late Goryeo period to the early Joseon period. As with the butterfly binding, historic examples are rare.

Rough Binding[edit | edit source]

Chinese: mao zhuang 毛裝

Books were often sold in an unfinished rough binding, held together only by inner paper twists (essentially wrapped back bindings with untrimmed deckled edges and no covers). Purchasers could complete the binding by trimming the edges as well as adding the covers and outer stitching as desired. Helliwell (1998) notes they were occasionally called the “paper-screw binding” (nian zi zhuang 捻子裝).

Sewn Formats[edit | edit source]

Early Sewn Bindings

The early examples of stitched or sewn books were found in the Dunhuang caves in China, amongst a range of manuscripts in different formats. Minah Song (2009, p. 48) notes:

The use of threads for binding can be traced back to the ninth-century late Tang period in the Dunhuang collection, but the Dunhuang stitched books do not seem to follow any particular tradition of bookbinding style. There are groups of books bound into gatherings. Some other books were stitched in the butterfly style, and stitches may have been applied to reinforce the weakness of the binding. The scholar Wang Zhu (王著) of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) wrote that he had butterfly-bound books stitched to make them more durable.”

Multisection bindings

Tetsuyōsō/retsujōsō bindings (列帖装) resemble western bindings with sheets folded into gatherings sewn together through the central fold. They were common in Japan between the 12th-14th century, after which side-stitched bindings became predominant. Ikegami (2012, p. 4) notes that this structure is unique to Japan; however, examples found in the Dunhuang cave disprove this.

Side-Stitched Bindings[edit | edit source]

Chinese xian zhuang 線裝, Korean: seonjang 선장, Japanese: fukuro toji 袋綴じ

General structure

Side-sitched bindings are assumed to have been developed by adding outer sewing to the wrapped back binding. Traditional side-stitched books often consist of several separately stitched structures comprising a single title, since side-stitched bindings do not open well when the text block is too thick. Since the term “volume” can refer to a division in text in western contexts (e.g “vol. 1” of a series of texts) rather than just the division of a single text into multiple physical components, Helliwell (1998) uses the term “fascicle” to describe each separately stitched structure, with the term “book” used to refer to a group of fascicles within one title.

Text block construction: Munn (2009, p. 106) notes that “The transparent, thin quality of many Asian handmade book papers and the mechanics of woodblock printing led to printing on only one side of a sheet of paper.” The sheets in a side-stitched binding are folded in half with the printed side facing out, stacked together, and stitched on the cut edge with the fold as the fore-edge. Each folded sheet acts as one leaf with two printed sides on the outside of the sheet, and a pocket is formed with the two unprinted sides on the inside of the sheet. To avoid confusion, the two printed sides of each leaf can be referred to as “side A” and “side B” rather than “recto” and “verso.”

Inner stitching: Like wrapped back bindings, the text block of side-stitched bindings is secured with twisted paper “sticks” or “thread” within the margin of the spine. This inner stitching is integral to side-stitched structures, as the outer stitching is more decorative. There are several varieties of inner stitching. Paper twisted at one end, leaving the other end wider, has been referred to as “paper nails”, “paper sticks”, or “single-pointed paper twists”. The pointed end of paper nails can be stiffened with paste and passed through single holes along the spine, after which both ends are flattened with a mallet (Ikegami [2012, p. 10] notes this style was thought to have originated in China and was used until the early 17th century).  For “paper staples”, also known as “paper threads” or “double-pointed paper twists,” a longer piece of paper is twisted with one pointed end, and is often laced through double holes and knotted.

Corner pieces: The top and bottom corners of the spine can sometimes be covered with small pieces of cloth, which are more decorative than functional. They are added after the inner stitching, before the outer stitching. These corner pieces are adhered with paste which attracts insects and makes the rebinding process more difficult.

Outer stitching: After the inner sewing, covers are added and stitched to the text block along a number of holes. The outer stitching creates a margin on the spine side, along which the leaves of the text block flex when turned. Materials for paper, thread, and the number of stitching holes can vary depending on the country of origin (see below).

Diagram of a 4 hole side stitch binding

Main periods of use

Most scholars believe side-stitched bindings were first produced in China in the Ming dynasty (1338-1644) and used alongside other binding structures there, becoming the main binding format in China around the late 16th to early 17th century. Despite its Chinese origins, side-stitched bindings became the predominant bound format in Korea much earlier during the late Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). It became predominant in Japan at the end of the Muromachi period (1333-1600).

Geographical variations[edit | edit source]
Papers Primarily paper mulberry bast fiber Bast, grass, and a mixture of these fibers Primarily paper mulberry bast fiber. Some gampi, and grass fibered papers.
Inner stitches Usually paper thread with 2 stitches per fascicle. Usually paper thread with 2 stitches per fascicle. Paper nails with single hole stitches or paper staples with two holes Usually paper staples, sometimes paper nails with 2 stitches per fascicle.
Outer Stitching Generally 5 holes, even spacing. Sometimes 7 holes for larger books Generally 4 holes, Although sometimes 5, 6, or 7 for larger books. The center holes are generally closer than the others. Generally 4 holes with equidistant spacing. Possibly 5 for larger books.
Sewing thread Usually hemp, cotton or silk. Could be red, blue or undyed. Typically undyed soft silk or cotton. Typically soft hemp, silk or cotton in various colors or undyed.
Book Covers ‘Board-paper’ is made of layers of printed and written scrap paper. Yellow and blue tinted papers are sometimes found. Typically thin, lined, flexible brown or blue paper or silk, with various sizings including soy extract and gelatin. Occasionally decorated papers (vermillion with gold flecks) are used as covers. Layers of printed and written scrap papers. With a tinted outer layer. Woodblock illustrations used for some genres. Various colors, gelatin sizing. Decorative-burnishes, impressed, stenciled, or woodcut designs can be found.
Endsheets A folded sheet tipped to the cover, part of inner stitch text sewing. Publishing details on endsheets. Often a single sheet with a fore edge fold tipped to the cover. Variations in attachment are found. Sometimes red and yellow papers are used as insect repellent. Usually a folded sheet tipped to the cover, part of inner stitch text sewing. Endsheets sometimes include woodblock illustrations, and/or publisher advertisements.
Titling Often handwritten; aligned along the fore edge near the head. Often no title or handwritten; aligned along the fore edge near the head. Aligned along the fore edge near the head. Pre mid-eighteenth century, title strips were placed in the middle of the cover. Details and variation in titling depend on the subject of the book.
Ledger Bindings[edit | edit source]

Ledger bindings include account books, receipt books and other ledgers. In Japan, ledger bindings were in common use particularly in the Edo period (1603-1868).  They are usually wider than they are tall. In general, folded sheets are held together with a flat cord.

Westernized Formats[edit | edit source]

Ikegami (2012, 6) notes that the “Meiji Restoration of 1868 led to rapid introduction of Western technology in Japan, introducing metal type which required harder-surfaced paper which could be made by machine instead of the absorbent soft paper needed for ink brush or wood block printing–side-stitched books gave way to Western-style hardcover books.” The use of western bindings spread to Korea from Japan during the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945. Western bindings became more prevalent in China after the Cultural Revolution from 1966-1967.

In the introduction to “The Repair and Binding of Old Chinese Books Translated and Adapted for Western Conservators”, Helliwell describes the condition of the Chinese book collection at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and other collections that were rebound in Western fashion.

Materials[edit | edit source]

Chinese Bindings[edit | edit source]

Timeline showing substrate raw materials and printing methods. © Preservation Centre, University of Hong Kong Libraries 2022.

Substrates Before paper:

Pottery, bone, tortoise shell, bronze, jade, stone, bamboo/wooden slips, silk

Paper[edit | edit source]

Chinese paper was invented in the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE), revolutionizing how people write and read. An ancient Chinese poem written in the Western Jin dynasty (265–317), "Zhi Fu" (Paper Ode), indicates that paper was used during that historical period. The author writes, "nowadays, paper has replaced bamboo slips; its high quality and pure color is affordable and easier to write on. Paper made with damaged rags is portable and flexible and can easily be opened and rolled." The paper mentioned in the poem is hemp paper, which primarily uses hemp or ramie fibers. In 404 CE, Huanxuan's imperial edict stated that paper should completely replace bamboo slips. This decree accelerated papermaking throughout the country. Over the centuries more types of plant fibers were utilized for papermaking, including hemp, rattan, bast fibers, bamboo, and grass fibers. The raw plant materials are cut or crushed, soaked in water, then cooked in an alkaline solution to soften the fibers. Fibers are then bleached under the sun as needed. Finally, the fibers are beaten and hydrated to form a paper pulp, formation aid is added as a deflocculant. The resulting solution is drained through a sieve-like screen then pressed and dried to create the final sheets of paper.

Based on the raw materials, people generally classified the paper used for writing and printing in China into the following four major types:

Hemp Paper 麻紙:

Invented in the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE) and developed in the Jin and the Northern and Southern dynasties (220–589), hemp is the earliest material known to have been used for papermaking in China, primarily sourced from old fabric, cloth, and fishing nets. The quality of hemp paper improved significantly in the Jin and Northern and Southern dynasties. Paper became whiter, smoother, and with stronger fiber attachments. Ramie and linen were also the main papermaking materials during this period. Paper made with these fibers is collectively referred to as hemp paper. This paper has a specific thickness, and is usually calendared before being used for writing. Many Dunhuang manuscripts were written or printed on hemp paper. Compared to the materials used for writing before the invention of paper, hemp paper was more affordable and accessible. More people began to use paper to copy classical literary works and to promote cultural dissemination, which significantly increased the available number of books and documents. After the Tang dynasty (618–907), along with the rise of the printing industry, and due to the limited supply of hemp or ramie, hemp paper was no longer able to meet the increasing demand. Bast fiber became the primary material for paper. During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912), hemp paper was rarely used for books, calligraphy or painting.

Bast-fiber Paper 皮紙:

Bast-fibers came into use between the late Han to the Jin and Northern and Southern dynasties, and became more widely used in the Song dynasty (960–1279). Mulberry桑皮, kozo楮皮, and blue sandalwood bark檀皮 are all common bast fibers. Rattan藤皮, mitsumata三桠皮, and gampi雁皮 can also be used. Bast fibers are primarily soft and long, with a high degree of whiteness and a low level of impurities. It is also sometimes referred to as “cotton” paper, which refers to its soft and smooth texture and pure white color, not the fiber content. In the Tang dynasty, bast-fiber paper was used for documents, books, artworks, and various other uses. Two of the most celebrated bast-fiber papers are “Chengxintang澄心堂” paper developed in the Song dynasty (960–1279) and “Xuande宣德” paper in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

Bamboo Paper 竹紙:

The first known use of bamboo for papermaking was during the Tang dynasty (618–907), though it was more widely used in the Song dynasty. As papermaking spread through China, it became a highly competitive and regionalized practice. Papermakers relied heavily on local vegetation for their raw materials. Bamboo became the most inexpensive raw material for papermaking because of its short harvest cycle and wide growth range. The amount of bamboo paper quickly surpassed other paper types, peaking in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Tiangong Kaiwu 天工開物, written by Song Yinxing in 1637, is a canonical Chinese title with detailed drawings of the bamboo papermaking process. Bamboo Paper usually has a smooth surface and absorbs ink evenly because of its short and thin fibers. However, depending on how it is processed and other factors, the resulting short-fibered paper has the potential to become brittle. A majority of books printed during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) were made with bamboo papers.

Bamboo harvesting for papermaking. Tiangong Kaiwu, The University of Hong Kong Library Collection.

Mixed-fiber Paper混料紙:

First appearing in the Song dynasty, these are a combination of short and long fibers such as bast mixed with bamboo. One type of mixed-fibre paper has had a significant impact on the history of paper: Xuan paper宣紙. Originally from Xuanzhou 宣州, now Jinxian 涇縣 in China’s Anhui province, the raw materials are blue sandalwood bark and rice straw. Other additions made later include Kaolin clay to increase opacity and alum for sizing. Papers made with a higher blue sandalwood content are considered to be of a higher quality paper. It has good tensile strength and a smooth surface which makes it ideal for printing, calligraphy, painting, mounting, and rubbings. The Siku Quanshu四庫全書, compiled in the Qing dynasty (Qianlong period), is a well-known example of using Xuan paper to make books.

Knowing where and how paper is made allows printers, printmakers, scroll mounters, and bookbinders to anticipate how the paper will stretch when it gets wet with ink paste and how it will fold when used to bind and repair books. Woodblock printing is usually done so that the paper grain runs vertically, that is, parallel with the center of the printing block. Thus, when Chinese book pages are folded, the finished book remains flexible and easy to open. Sometimes in the interest of saving money by not wasting paper, printers will print so that the grain of the paper runs horizontally.

Materials for printing[edit | edit source]
Printing block[edit | edit source]

Xylography or Woodblock/engraved printing process雕版印刷:

In the Tang dynasty (618–713), it was first used for printing sutras. Woods used are catalpa, pear, and jujube. These woods have a fine texture and are easy to carve. There is no significant dry or wet shrinkage during the printing process. Multiple block color printing appeared at the end of the Yuan dynasty, with full-color printing (blue, purple, red, green, yellow, and black) in the Qing dynasty.

A video about this process: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/china-engraved-block-printing-technique-00229

Movable type 活字印刷:[edit | edit source]

Developed in the Song dynasty (960-1279) and more commonly used from the Ming to the Qing dynasty (1368-1912), the type was first made from clay, and later wood, lead, bronze, and other metals. Qinding Wuyingdian Juzhenban Chengshi欽定武英殿聚珍版程式—a manual for movable type printing, was published in 1776 in the Qing dynasty.

Ink[edit | edit source]

Chinese ink appeared before the Shang dynasty. Naturally occurring carbon inks were used for writing on bones and tortoise shells. From the Qin to Han periods, artificial ink made with pine soot and animal glue in pellet and ingot shape appeared.

Oil soot ink is made using the soot of burnt tung oil or various other oils. There is more glue in this type of ink than the other kinds, so it does not spread as much. It gives a warm black color and is good as a general purpose painting and calligraphy ink.

Pine soot ink is made from the soot of pine wood. It has less glue and so spreads more than oil soot ink. It gives a blueish-black color and is good for calligraphy and gongbi painting. Tiangong Kaiwu includes a chapter describing the steps of making traditional pine soot ink.

1. Traditional lined cover paper. Liujia Wenxuan, Ming Dynasty, The University of Hong Kong Library Collection.
Other Bookbinding Materials[edit | edit source]


Paper twist/staple: preferred bast-fiber paper

Sewing thread: silk thread

Covering materials:

1. Toned paper/lined. See image.

2. Decorative paper

Gold-flecked decorative paper

Betel-nut pattern paper

2. Decorative paper, Betel-nut pattern paper. Suijin Cipu, Qing Dynasty, The University of Hong Kong Library Collection.

Tiger-skin pattern paper

3. Lined silk (patterned/plain)

3. Lined silk cover. Shangshu Yi, (Meanings in the Book of Documents), Qing Dynasty, The University of Hong Kong Library Collection.

Treatment methodology[edit | edit source]

Typical Types of damage that appear in East Asian Books[edit | edit source]
  • Broken sewing threads
  • Split foredge/tears/loss
  • Insect/pest/rodent damage
  • Water damage/fire damage
  • Mold/dirt/grime
  • Stains and fugitive media
  • Weak and brittle materials
  • Well-intended self-inflicted damage
  • Poor quality, ill-fitting, or nonexistent enclosures
  • Binding/layout issues: narrow book brain, narrow head/foot margin
History of restoration and conservation[edit | edit source]

Book restoration developed shortly after the invention of paper. Qimin Yaoshu齊民要術, written by JIA Sixie during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534), is the earliest known record to mention the methodology of book and document restoration in China: “if one repairs a broken book without selecting the paper carefully, the mend will curl and the wound will stiffen, further exacerbating the damage. The repair papers should be as thin and narrow as a leaf of Chinese chive. The precise alignment of paper patterns with minimal overlapping on the damage will make it unnoticeable until it is scrutinized under the sunlight.” Another key Chinese title, Zhuanghuang Zhi 裝潢志 (The Book of Mounting), written by ZHOU Jiazhou in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), records a comprehensive description of the mounting and restoration tradition in China. “Mounters and restorers should possess hands that are skilled, eyes that are sharp, a spirit that is wise and intelligent, and a heart that is attentive. To those who answer these requirements, you may entrust your orders.”

Some historical book preservation methods in China

  • Classification system: organized for easy retrieval
  • Storage facility: library structure made of stone, surrounded by water, with good airflow
  • Enclosures: wooden boards, wrap-around enclosure, box enclosures made of aromatic woods
  • Selection of book materials: choose good quality paper
  • Insect prevention: “Huangbo” (from the cork tree, “Huang” paper), peppercorn dyed paper (“Jiao” paper), red lead paper (“Wan Nian Hong” Paper), or wax burnish method
  • Airing of Books: a term for “sunning books”

Papers used for preventing insect damage:

1. Huang paper 潢紙 appeared in the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE). The dyeing of paper, which is traditionally called “ran huang染潢” is fully discussed in Qimin Yaoshu齊民要術 during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534). “Huangbo黃檗” from the cork tree was soaked and boiled into a fragrant dye. The yellow dye was applied over the entire paper either before or after the writing was done. People also referred to this as “yellow paper”. The bitter preparation is toxic to some insects. Some rare scrolls from the Dunhuang Caves are treated with this method. This paper sometimes was burnished as well in order to add stiffness, resist moisture, and further prevent insect damage.

2. Jiao paper椒紙, which appeared in the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), used peppercorns for the dye; the recognisable fragrance can help to get rid of insects for a long period of time.

3. “Wan Nian Hong” Paper萬年紅紙: appeared in the late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty. This bright orange-red paper is made using red lead and Pb3O4. The solution contains toxic elements that are effective against a typical kind of insects related to silverfish and firebrats that thrive in warm regions. It was commonly used in the southern area of China for thread-bound book endsheets. This paper has limited effectiveness because it is only used as endsheets, leaving the center of the textblock vulnerable to attack.

General Chinese conservation principles

−        Maintain the original look and original materials as much as possible 修舊如舊;

−        Minimal intervention 最少介入;

−        Reversibility 修復可逆性;

General traditional methodologies

1. Selection of repair materials:

Choose repair materials carefully. If possible match the original fiber type, thickness and color of the original paper (a lighter color is preferable to a darker color; thinner paper is preferable to thicker). In traditional restoration practices, the restorer tends to repurpose the original endsheets or interleaving to repair damage elsewhere on the textblock.

2. Cleaning:

Clean off the dust and surface grime with a soft brush, gently jog the book to remove the frass and dust.

For stains on the paper, wash on a slant board, full immersion, or treat locally by blotter washing; sometimes boiling water is used to remove stains.

3. Mending:

  • If the sewing thread is intact and the damage is minimal, paper repair should be performed in-situ.
  • To repair holes in book pages that have been disbound, mend from the verso by applying very thin paste along the edge of the loss (2-3mm wide), place the repair paper on top taking care to match the chain lines, water tear the repair paper following the shape, press dry.
  • Do not fill in missing characters or borderlines. Be mindful that there might be information written or printed on the book root (bottom edge) which could be lost if the fascicle is disbound and mended along the bottom edge or lined overall.
  • Lining: if the paper is in poor condition and with significant areas of loss, it can be lined. The lining paper should be thinner than the original paper to avoid adding too much thickness to the book. In traditional practice, the areas of loss will be filled before overall lining.
  • Replace interleaving as needed

4. Rebinding:


−        Repair the cover if possible.

−        If the original cover is in poor condition, it might be possible to mend it in place and add a new cover on top that wraps around the original cover.

−        If the cover is missing, replace it with new covers, match the original cover as much as possible, if there is a book label, reattach it to the new cover.

Different types of cover attachments:

*There is another type with all four edges folded in and adhered to the endsheet.

Choose the attachment type based on the original binding structure, if the original binding structure is unknown, select the type according to the covering materials, such as the thickness or use level.

Conservation rebinding method: Jade-Edged-in-Gold (Jade Set in Gold/Jade Inlayed in Gold) 金鑲玉

This rebinding method is appropriate for books with poor quality thin paper, or that have original binding structure issues (too small), or have been over-trimmed at the top/bottom and spine in a previous restoration. The gold refers to the original text page, and the jade refers to the interleaving paper (usually thin Xuan paper). This elaborate form of interleaving requires a high level of skill and very specific materials. There is a full folded sheet of interleaving plus extra interleaving strips at the head, tail, and along the sewing side to ensure the final bound volume is the same thickness everywhere.

Enclosures[edit | edit source]

Enclosures for Traditional Chinese Book Formats[edit | edit source]

As with different types of Chinese book formats, there are varying traditional Chinese protective enclosures or hantao 函套. Some enclosures are uniquely suited to protect a specific book format, while others are progressions of earlier enclosures. They can be made from textiles, wood, and cloth-covered paper boards, just to name a few. Enclosures are often intended to be stored flat, and not upright. The following are brief descriptions of some of the more commonly found traditional Chinese enclosures in North American collections, listed in a rough chronological order.

Textile Wrapper[edit | edit source]

Scrolls or single-leaf formats, such as palm leaf manuscripts that are loosely sewn together, can be protected by a textile wrapper. These wrappers tend to be either a square or rectangular piece of textile, often plain-woven cotton or silk, or silk brocade, that are wrapped around the scroll or pothi. They can be fastened with an attached or separate tie or embroidered ribbon that may also have a wood or bone clasp at the end. Textile wrappers hold the leaves of a pothi together, preventing them from abrading against one another and also enable easier handling of the stack of leaves. In situations where there is a textile wrapper present and a pothi is not sewn with cord, the wrapper would be considered the pothi’s binding and not its enclosure.

Wooden Boards with Ties jiaban 夾板[edit | edit source]

This enclosure style is an early protective covering for a stack of fascicles. It consists of two wooden boards held together by cotton ties. The boards are cut to the height and width of a fascicle and sandwich the stack of fascicles. These are most often made of camphor or catalpa, but have been found in sandalwood, cedar, paulownia,and red wood.

Wooden Boxes muxia 木匣[edit | edit source]
Wooden Two-Piece Boxes[edit | edit source]

Wooden two-piece boxes have been used to house pothi and scroll. These wrappers consist of a bottom inner tray with a top outer lid that fits over the tray. Some wooden two-piece boxes rest on feet. These boxes can be padded with cotton or bamboo gauze and lined in silk to further support scrolls. They can be found covered and/or decorated in lacquer or carvings. They are constructed using wood, nails, and glue. These wrappers are often made of a fragrant wood for their pest-deterring properties.

Wooden Box with Sliding Lid[edit | edit source]

Another style of wooden box has a sliding lid. They consist of a bottom tray with an inset lid that slides out. These wrappers offer protection to all traditional Chinese book formats discussed in this wiki. These can also be found in various types of wood.

Wooden Slipcase[edit | edit source]

Wooden slipcases are five-sided wrappers where the brain of the fascicles are exposed. These can also be found in various types of wood.

Wooden Box with Sliding Wall[edit | edit source]

This box style is similar to a wooden slipcase, but with the addition of an inset sliding wall. The inset wall is often at the ground of the fascicles, and this can be further supported by hand-titling found at the ground of fascicles. Some wrappers with sliding walls feature a shelf or shelves inside to support taller stacks of fascicles.

Cloth-Covered Box with Hinged Lid[edit | edit source]

These wrappers consist of a tray and hinged lid made from cloth-covered paper boards and lined with laminated Chinese paper. They are fastened using loops on the outside of the tray and bone clasps that are attached to the lid. These wrappers can be found padded out with cotton or bamboo gauze and lined with silk to further support scrolls. The cloth is often plain-woven cotton or silk, or silk brocade.

Wrap-around enclosure (wrapper) hantao 函套[edit | edit source]
Four-Sided Wrappers 四合套[edit | edit source]

Stacks of sutras and side-sewn/bound books are often housed in four- or six-sided wrappers. Four-sided enclosures wrap around the covers, brain and mouth of a stack of fascicles, leaving the sky and ground exposed. They consist of cloth-covered paper boards lined with laminated Chinese paper and cloth hinge strips. The paper lining is applied with thick paste brushed onto or dotted along the lining edges. This is largely due to laminated Chinese papers having a stronger pull in comparison to the cloth-covered boards. Board edges that form a hinge are beveled at a 45-degree angle, resulting in walls that are partially supported by these beveled edges. If properly fitted, this structure will grip the contents safely without adding pressure on the contents since the hinge cannot be over extended. These wrappers are fastened with loops on the mouth of the box and bone clasps attached to the front of the box. There is also an additional strip of paper board along the mouth edge of the front of the box, along which titling on paper is often adhered. It is possible that the strip of board prevents abrasion on the titling when wrappers are stacked on top of one another.

Four-Sided Wrapper, University of Hong Kong Library Collection. Records of the Grand Historian, Ming Dynasty
Six-Sided Wrappers 六合套[edit | edit source]

Six-sided wrappers are similar to four-sided wrappers, but cover all sides of a stack of fascicles. These are found in the same materials as above. The simplest style of six-sided wrappers will have inner flaps at the sky and ground of the stack meet in the middle of the topmost fascicle, and outer flaps that wrap around the brain and mouth of the fascicles. More intricate wrappers will have the three inner flaps interlock with one another in various patterns.

Contemporary Library Enclosures[edit | edit source]
  • Four- and six-sided wrappers
    • Made with lined book cloth and laminated kozo papers with bone clasp closures
    • Archival corrugated box (six-sided wrapper style, clamshell).

Chinese Traditional Conservation Tools[edit | edit source]

© Preservation Centre, University of Hong Kong Libraries 2022

Starting upper corner, 2nd item from left edge

1.     砑石 Polishing stone: for polishing the verso of a lined paper object (use with wax)

2.     針&絲綫Needle & Silk thread: sewing thread for books

3.     木尺 Wooden straight edge

4.     噴壺 Spray bottle

5.     硯 Ink stone: used here as a paste dish

6.     排筆 Mounting brush (small): for applying a thin amount of paste during lining; sometimes used as a dust brush for dry surface cleaning

7.     筆船 Brush boat (support): for making straight lines for the hand drawn text frame/border

8.     毛筆Chinese brush: for applying paste or water

9.     棕刷 Palm fiber brush (small): for smoothing the backing paper during the lining process, and tamping the lined paper object from the verso

10. 棕刷/墩刷 Stencil brush (Palm fiber): tamping the repaired or lined area to consolidate the adhesion, also for making rubbings;

11. 剪刀Scissors: for cutting threads

12. 馬蹄刀Horse hoof knife: for trimming a textblock or sheets of paper; only one side of the knife is beveled

13. 刻刀 Seal chisels/carving knife: for making small cuts while fabricating a box; also for carving seal stone

14. 鑷子Tweezers

15. 竹起子 Bamboo spatula: for taking off a newly lined paper object from a drying board after it is dried; or used as a tool for turning leaves

16. 摺紙刀Folder: made with bone, wood or bamboo; for scoring and folding text paper or cover

17. 針錐 Needle Awl: made with paper and a needle; for marking pinholes, or removing small unwanted particles on a wet paper during lining process

18. 錐子 Awl: for making sewing holes

19. 錘子 Mallet: made with wood or metal, for pounding an awl into a textblock to make holes, and for compressing the thicker area that has been

repaired (similar to beating the textblock in Western binding)

20. 鎮紙 Paperweight

Book Formats & Book Parts Terminology[edit | edit source]

Diagram of Seonjang (traditional side stitched) binding process courtesy of Yungjin Shin.
Short glossary[edit | edit source]
English Terms Korean Japanese Chinese
Scroll 권축장 Gweonchukjang /

권자본 Gweonjabon /

두루마리 Dooroomari

Hand Scroll     手卷
Album 冊頁
Concertina binding 절첩장 Jeolcheopjang 經摺裝
Whirlwind binding 선풍장 Seonpoongjang 旋風裝
Butterfly binding 호접장 Hojeobjang 蝴蝶裝
Rough Binding 毛裝
Wrapped-back binding 포배장 Pobaejang 包背裝
Side-stitched binding 선장 Seonjang 線裝
Paper twists (paper nails or staples) 紙釘/紙捻
Head 서수 Seosoo /

서두 Seodoo (“head”)

Tail 서근 Seogeun (“root”) 書脚
Fore edge 서구 Seogoo (“mouth”) Mouth 書口
Spine 서배 Seobae (“back”) Brain 書背
Area between the sewing holes and the spine edge 서뇌 Seonoe (“brain”) 書腦
Corner piece 포각 Pogak 包角
Pattern burnished cover 능화지 Neunghwaji
Cover title 표제 Pyojae 簽條
Volume number 권차 Gweoncha 卷次

Printed Sheet terminology

English Terms Korean Japanese Chinese
Head margin 서미 Seomi (“eyebrow”) 天頭
Tail margin 서각 Seogak (“foot”) 地脚
Square outline 광곽 Gwanggwak 版框
Vertical separating lines 계선 Gyeseon 欄綫/界行
Center folding column 판심Panshim / 판구Pangoo (“heart/mouth of the printed sheet”) 版心
Title on center column 판심제 Panshimjae 書名
Fishtail pattern 어미 Eomi 魚尾
Folding guideline 중봉Joongbong /

흑구 Heukgoo

Chapter number 장차 Jangcha 卷次

Paper and papermaking terminology

English Terms Korean Japanese Chinese
Korean paper 한지 Hanji 韓國紙
Paper mulberry 닥 Dak Kozo 楮皮
Natural formation aid 닥풀 Dak-pul Neri 紙藥
Screen 발 Bal Su 竹簾
Frame or screen mould 발틀 Bal-teul Keta 抄紙架
Persimmon juice 감물 Gam-mul Kakishibu
Single screen technique 외발뜨기 Webal-tteugi
Double screen technique 쌍발뜨기 Ssangbal-tteugi Nagashizuki
Terminology for Korean page layout. Diagram courtesy of Yungjin Shin.
Korean page layout with terminology[edit | edit source]
Diagram of a traditional side stitched Korean book.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Chinese bookbinding[edit | edit source]

Allen, S.M., Zuzao, L., Xiaolan, C. and Bos, J. eds., 2010. The history and cultural heritage of Chinese calligraphy, printing and library work. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Accessed April 23, 2017.

Brokaw, C. 2005. On the History of the Book in China. In Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China, edited by Cynthia, B and Chow, K.W, 3–54. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Carter, Thomas. The Invention of Printing in China and its Spread Westward, revised by L. Carrington Goodrich. New York: Ronald Press. 1955.

Chang, P. 1993. Chinese Rare Book Collections in Taiwan: Their History, Cataloging and Conservation. Journal of East Asian Libraries 1993 (101): 24. Accessed March 26, 2017.

Chia, Lucille. 2002. Printing For Profit: The Commercial Publishers of Jianyang, Fujian (11th-17th centuries). Harvard-Yenching Institute monograph series, 56. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center for Harvard-Yenching Institute: distributed by Harvard University Press.

Chinnery, T. 2007. Some Characteristics of the Dunhuang Booklets. The International Dunhuang Project.

Illustrated article describing the various Chinese bookbinding styles found in the Dunhuang collection of the British Library. Includes butterfly binding (hudie zhuang), stitched binding (xian zhuang), Chinese pothi (fanjia zhuang), whirlwind binding (xuanfeng zhuang), concertina binding (jingzhe zhuang), wrapped-back binding (baobei zhuang), and a selective bibliography.

Chow, Kai-wing.  Publishing, Culture, and Power in Early Modern China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Conservation & Collection Care. Conservation of Chinese Books. Post on the website of Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Accessed March 26, 2017.

Dai, Lianbin. China’s Bibliographic Tradition and the History of the Book. Book History 17 (2014): 1–50.

Drège, Jean-Pierre. Les Bibliothèques en Chine au temps des manuscrits (jusqu’au Xe siècle) [Libraries in China in the Age of Manuscripts to the Tenth Century]. Paris: École française d’Extrême-Orient, 1991.

Edgren, Sören. The Fengmianye (Cover Page) as a Source for Chinese Publishing History. In Akira Isobe (ed.), Studies of Publishing Culture in East Asia, pp. 261–7. Tokyo: Nigensha, 2004.

Edgren, J.S. 2009. China. In A Companion to the History of the Book, edited by Eliot, S. and Rose, J, 97-110. John Wiley & Sons.

Edgren, J. S. 2010. The History of the Book in China. In The Oxford Companion to the Book, edited by Suarez, M.F. and Woudhuysen, H.R, 353–365. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Edgren, J.S. 2013. The History of the Book in China. Michael F. Suarez, S.J., and H.R. Woodhausen (eds.). The Book: A Global History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 571-592.

Fang, Achilles. Bookman’s Decalogue. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies Vol. 13, No. 1/2 (Jun., 1950), pp. 132-173.

Heijdra, Martin (2004a) Technology, Culture and Economics: Movable Type versus Woodblock Printing in East Asia.” In Akira Isobe (ed.), Studies of Publishing Culture in East Asia, pp. 223–40. Tokyo: Nigensha.

Heijdra, Martin (2004b) “The Development of Modern Typography in East Asia, 1850–2000.” East Asian Library Journal, 11 (2): 100–68.

Helliwell, David (trans. & ed.). 1998. “The Repair and Binding of Old Chinese Books Translated and Adapted for Western Conservators (from a manual of traditional restoration techniques by Xiao Zhentang and Ding Yu).” The East Asian Library Journal 8 (Spring): 27-149.

Koretsky, Elaine. 2009. Killing Green: An Account of Hand Papermaking in China. Ann Arbor, MI: The Legacy Press.

Lee, V. C. 1929. "A Sketch of the Evolution of Chinese Book-Binding." Library Science Quarterly 3: 539-550.

Li, Mingjie and Jinfang Niu. 2010. “A Preservation Framework for Chinese Ancient Books.Journal of Documentation 66 (2): 259-278.

Lin,M., Qiu, W., and Zhang, L. 2014. Traditional Chinese Book and Document Preservation: Brief History and Essential Techniques and Their Contemporary Applications. Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture 43(4): 142-161.

Ling, Xiaoqiao. Crafting a Book: The Sequel to The Plum in the Golden Vase. East Asian Publishing and Society 3 (2013) 115-152. Brill.com/eaps

Liu, Jiazhen. 1999. “Preservation of Library Materials in China: Problems and Solutions.Asian Libraries 8 (12): 480-483. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Marshall, Heather. 2016 (Oct. 17). “From West to East: Conservation of the Chinese novel ‘Dream of the Red Chamber.'British Library Collection Care Blog. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Martinique, Edward. 1973. "The Binding and Preservation of Chinese Double-Leaved Books." The Library Quarterly 43 (3): 227-236. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Martinique, Edward. 1983. Chinese Traditional Bookbinding: A Study of Its Evolution and Techniques. San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center.

McDermott, Joseph (2005) “The Ascendance of the Imprint in China.” In Cynthia Brokaw and Kaiwing Chow (eds.), Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China, pp. 55–104. Berkeley: University of California Press.

McDermott, J. P. 2006. "A social history of the Chinese book: books and literati culture in late imperial China". Hong Kong University Press.

McDermott, Joseph and Peter Burke, eds. The Book Worlds of East Asia and Europe, 1450–1850. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015.

Ming, Lin and Qiu Weiqing. 2014. “Traditional Chinese Book and Document Preservation: Brief History and Essential Techniques and Their Contemporary Applications.Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture 43 (4): 142-161. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Munn, Jesse. 2009. "Side‐Stitched Books of China, Korea and Japan in Western Collections." Journal of the Institute of Conservation 32 (1): 103-127. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Norman, Jerry. Inner Asian Words for Paper and Silk, Journal of the American Oriental Society 135.2 (2015)

Reed, Christopher. Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876–1937. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

Tsien, T. 2008. Written on Bamboo and Silk: the Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions". 2nd ed. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press; 2nd edition.

Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin. Paper and Printing. Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 5, pt. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985 (Third printing, revised 1987, and later printings).

Xiao, Dongfa, ed. From Oracle Bones to E-Publications. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press,

Zhang, Xuan. Evolution of the Chinese Book. MFA Thesis the Department of Art + Design, Northeastern University, Boston, MA May 2016

Conservation and preventive conservation, Chinese bound materials[edit | edit source]

Beenk, Jody. “Skimming the Surface of the Fung Ping Shan Rare Book Collection, University of Hong Kong Libraries.” Archival Product News Vol. 19 No. 4 (2015).

Feng, Jieyin, Shi, Zhonghua, and Wu, Zhongxia. “Preserving Our Collection –

The New Building of the Shanghai Library.” Shanghai Library, China. 9 June 2006.

http://www.library.sh.cn/english/lectures/list.asp?id=1126 (Accessed 30 June 2015).

Helliwell, David (1998) “The Repair and Binding of Old Chinese Books.” East Asian Library Journal, 8 (1): 27–149.

Li, M. and Niu, J. (2010), "A preservation framework for Chinese ancient books", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 66 No. 2, pp. 259-278. https://doi-org.eproxy.lib.hku.hk/10.1108/00220411011023652

Jiazhen, Liu, and Wang Jingxuan. 2010. “Main factors affecting the preservation of

Chinese paper documents: A review and recommendations.” IFLA Journal 36, no. 3:

227-234. Library Literature & Information Science Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed August 13, 2015).

Munn, Jesse. “Side-stitched books of China, Korea and Japan in Western Collections.” Journal of the Institute of Conservation 32:1 (2009): 103–127.

Nordstrand, Ove K. Chinese Double-Leaved Books and their Restoration, Libri 1967: vol 17 no. 2, 104-130.

Richard, Francoise. From China to Cambridge: modification of rare Chinese printed books within Cambridge College libraries.

Erin Schoneveld, and Sarah Laursen. "Representation, Adaptation, and Preservation at the Frontiers in East Asian Art." Verge: Studies in Global Asias 4, no. 1 (2018): 44-84. Accessed January 30, 2021. doi:10.5749/vergstudglobasia.4.1.0044.

Smithrosser, Elizabeth. “Book Care in Medieval China”, Medievalists.net ( Accessed 10/22/2020)

Jianlan Wang & Wingyui Wong (2019) Unravelling the Conservation History of Silk Faced Ancient Dunhuang Manuscripts in the British Library, Studies in Conservation, 64:3, 125-137, DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2018.1550901 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00393630.2018.1550901

Youn, Eunha, & Youn, Eunha. (2013). Archival traditions in Korean history: From medieval practice to the contemporary Public Records Management Act. Archival Science, 13(1), 23-44.


Japanese bookbinding[edit | edit source]

Atwood, Catherine. 1987. "Japanese Folded Sheet Books: Construction, Materials and Conservation." The Paper Conservator 11 (1): 10-21.

Barrett, Timothy. 1984. Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques. Boston: Weatherhill.

Hioki, Kazuko. 2009. "Japanese Printed Books of the Edo Period (1603–1867): History and Characteristics of Block‐Printed Books." Journal of the Institute of Conservation 32 (1): 79-101. Accessed March 11, 2017.

Ikegami, Kojiro, and Barbara B. Stephan. 1986. Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman. First edition. New York: Weatherhill.

Korbel, Barbara, and Janice Katz. 2005. "Binding Beauty: Conserving a Collection of Japanese Printed Books." Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 31 (2): 16-105. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Kornicki, P.F. 1998. The book in Japan: A cultural history from the beginnings to the nineteenth century. University of Hawaii Press.

Kornicki, P.F. 2009. Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In A Companion to the History of the Book, edited by Eliot, S. and Rose, J, 111-125. John Wiley & Sons.

Kornicki, P.F. 2010. The History of the Book in Japan. In The Oxford Companion to the Book, edited by Suarez, M.F. and Woudhuysen, H.R, 375–385. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McKillop, Beth. 2013. “The History of the Book in Japan.” Michael F. Suarez, S.J., and H.R. Woodhausen (eds.). The Book: A Global History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 593-604.

Munn, Jesse. 2009. "Side‐Stitched Books of China, Korea and Japan in Western Collections." Journal of the Institute of Conservation 32 (1): 103-127. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Korean bookbinding[edit | edit source]

Kornicki, P.F. 2009. Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In A Companion to the History of the Book, edited by Eliot, S. and Rose, J, 111-125. John Wiley & Sons.

Kornicki, Peter. 2013. “The History of the Book in Korea.” Michael F. Suarez, S.J., and H.R. Woodhausen (eds.). The Book: A Global History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 605-621.

Lee, Aimee. 2012. Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking. Ann Arbor, MI: The Legacy Press.

McKillop, Beth. 2010. The History of the Book in Korea. In The Oxford Companion to the Book, edited by Suarez, M.F. and Woudhuysen, H.R, 366–373. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Munn, Jesse. 2009. "Side‐Stitched Books of China, Korea and Japan in Western Collections." Journal of the Institute of Conservation 32 (1): 103-127. Accessed March 23, 2017.

Song, Minah. 2009. "The History and Characteristics of Traditional Korean Books and Bookbinding." Journal of the Institute of Conservation 32 (1): 53-78. Accessed March 23, 2017.

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

This page was created in November 2021 from content previously found on the Bookbinding Traditions by Region or Culture page under the heading "East Asian Bookbinding".

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Selection for Preservation · Exhibition, Supports, and Transport · Choosing Materials for Storage, Exhibition & Transport (AIC) · Imaging and Digitization · Housings · Matting and Framing · Encapsulation · Collection Care (AIC) · Integrated Pest Management (AIC) · Environmental Guidelines (AIC) · Environmental Monitoring (AIC) · Agents of Deterioration (AIC) · Light (AIC) · Pollutants (AIC)

Disaster Recovery

Emergency Preparedness & Response (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Paper (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Books (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Skin and Leather (AIC) · Mold

Conservation History and Ethics

AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice · Culturally Sensitive Treatment · Conservation Ethics (AIC) · Sustainable Practices (AIC) · History of Conservation and Conservators (AIC) · History of the BPG Wiki

Book Conservation Topics
Structural Elements of the Book

Endpapers · Endbands · Sewing and Leaf Attachment · Book Boards · Board Attachment · Book Decoration · Fastenings and Furniture

Covering Materials

Animal Skin and Leather · Cloth Bookbinding · Paper Bookbinding · Parchment Bookbinding

Treatment Techniques

Washing of Books · Alkalinization of Books · Leaf Attachment and Sewing Repair · Board Reattachment · Use of Leather in Book Conservation

Bookbinding Traditions

Bookbinding Traditions by Region or Culture · East Asian Book Formats · Ethiopian Bindings · Greek-Style Bindings · Western African Books and Manuscripts

Specialized Formats

Scrapbooks · Atlases, Foldouts, and Guarded Structures· Artists' Books

Circulating Collections

Circulating Collections · Case Binding