Al-Qalalusi's Tuhaf al-Khawas

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The first complete translation of the 13th-century treatise in inkmaking, dyeing, pigment manufacture and many more techniques for scribes and craftsmen, written by the Andalusian master Abubakr Muhammad al-Qalalusi. The original transcription is included along with abundant footnotes.

This absolute treasure of a book starts with classic and in-depth chapters on black and coloured inks, but goes on to many chapters of special interest, such as:

  • The only surviving description in the Arabic corpus for preparing a ruling template (mistara). He describes 4 different ways of dividing the page, for which I have included diagrams.
  • The first known description of etching on metal and use of oil paint in this tradition.
  • A complete list of "approved" pigments and admixtures, how they can be substituted, what binders to use and not use with them, how they should or should not be mixed or stored.
  • Descriptions of types of blotting powders, ink tows (liqa), gallnut types etc.

Other topics covered are dissolving metals, extracting natural dyes, manufacturing pigments, dyeing fabric and wood or bone, stain removal, hair dyes, synthetic combustibles, ethanol and other unexpected substances.

At 158 pages, it's four times as long as my earlier publication, Zinat al-Kataba, on which it is based.

Pay what it's worth to you, or what you can, as the purpose is to make this text easily accessible. This took me the better part of 2 years on my own dime so in return please remember your copy is for your own personal use only and not to be circulated, uploaded or reproduced without permission. However, I’m very happy for people to screenshot and share passages of special interest to them! More exposure for me! (Tag me: @joumajnouna)

Similarly, the PDF is protected against copying or altering, but printing is enabled.

If the text is revised or corrected in future, you'll receive the updated PDF by email.

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1 e-book (PDF)

Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Idrīs al-Qalalūsi
Joumana Medlej
Joumana Medlej
Publication date
May 2022
1.49 MB
158 pages


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Al-Qalalusi's Tuhaf al-Khawas

6 ratings
Buy this