Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
The Safavid Dynasty is often considered to represent the Islamic Golden Age, with its artists and creative methods still celebrated today. This Safavid-style design incorporates the symmetry, pentagonal flap closure and filigree designs that are the hallmarks of this binding tradition.
Our Safavid design portrays a leather filigree pattern incorporating handtooled motifs, retaining the elegance and style of the Islamic Golden Age even in our modern context.
Associated with this era of artistic excellence, Persian Safavid-style designs represented a high point in the art of the book. These bindings often feature centralized designs of medallions, quadrants, plant and animal motifs, pentagonal flap closures and elaborately decorated “doublures” (interior covers), along with exquisite creations in cut-out leather, coloured papers and gilding. Above all, symmetry is the hallmark of this style. The original binder of this particular design used reddish-brown goatskin, real gold, lacquer and paint to achieve balance in his creation.
Dating back to the 17th century, this artwork comes from the rich handicraft tradition that Shah Abbas the Great, the Fifth Shah of the Safavid Dynasty, inspired during what has become known as the Islamic Golden Age of Art (750 through the 16th century). He recognized the commercial benefits of promoting the arts and, thus, the crafts of tilework, pottery and textiles thrived. Illuminated manuscripts also became a flourishing industry and great attention was brought to the craft of bookbinding and design.
Though the rule of the Safavids came to an end in 1736, they left a great and lasting legacy by reviving and establishing Persia as both an economic and artistic stronghold. Amid the many jewels of this ancient period and culture, decorative bookbinding shines particularly bright and we are honoured to bring it back to everyday life in our Safavid series.