Coptic Stitch Binding

Historic Coptic Bindings

The Nag Hammadi Codices hold significance not just because of their age (3rd/4th century AD), but also because they inspired a fervor of enthusiasm for gnostic texts upon their announcement in 1949 (discovered in 1945).  The dominant theory states suggests that the burial of the texts was spurred by the condemnation of Bishop Anthanasius in 367 AD for his use of non-canonical texts.  

The bindings themselves are single quire volumes were tacketed to a limp leather wrappers stiffened with layers of papyri.  The wrappers were clearly meant primarily for protection, since the edges extended over the edges of the text block and many of the volumes show evidence of a wrapping band.  

Coptic bindings incorporated multiple quires were also in use as early as the 2nd century.  To join the quires, making a solid text block, the binders used a link-stitch that attached to the cover boards "by means of the extensions of the leather back strip."  The link-stitch came in several formats (Zsirmai 17), as seen below.  
Use of these stitches, and new interpretations of them, are still utilized by contemporary book artists

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