Shir Hashirim

(Song of Songs)

Custom Project

The Brief

Our brief was simply to “produce something fabulous” with a portfolio of twenty-two illuminated panels depicting the Song of Songs, painted by Leila Ganin in the style of the best Mughal artists.  The client wanted 64 copies.

The original artwork was on parchment, mounted on wooden panels but the client wished the facsimile to be in the form of a book.

Size  39 x 40cm

Private collection

* All images on this page are taken from the published facsimile.

Detail of the leather marquetry binding. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Creating the Song of Songs’ leather marquetry binding (time-lapse)

Specially designed 'guard' construction ensures that this thick volume opens flat at every spread. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Specially designed ‘guard’ construction ensures that this thick volume opens flat at every spread.

The Project

As in the creation of the original manuscript, production of its facsimile required innovation at every stage employing a variety of printing processes and complex binding techniques and structures.

Printing

High resolution photography by a specialist manuscript photographer is the first requirement after which the first set of ‘wet’ proofs are made on paper specially selected to match the original parchment. In a painstaking process, we work side-by-side with the original making minute colour corrections to ensure that the second proofs are almost perfect.

The manuscript demanded many different types of printing and other processes to reproduce the multitude of techniques the artist had used to apply burnished gold, flat gold, powdered gold, silver (both flat and powdered), black and red laquer and a faintly visible gold powder in some of the backgrounds.

The scribe’s work was no less magnificent. His raised calligraphy was reproduced by employing a silk screen technique to exactly reproduce the original hand-written text.

An elegant pull-out translation was devised and ‘hidden’ behind every text page so as not to detract from the artwork.

Detail of the leather marquetry binding. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Binding

We believe that this Song of Songs is one of the most complicated editions ever published. Over 1,000 pieces of morocco goatskin cut by laser were placed by hand in every marquetry binding.  The continuous design runs from inside the front cover, over the front cover, spine and back cover and ends inside the back cover (watch time-lapse).

The unique guard-style binding ensures that this thick volume opens flat at every spread.

Specially designed 'guard' construction ensures that this thick volume opens flat at every spread. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Commentary Volume

Emile Schrijver, Professor of Jewish Book History at the University of Amsterdam, wrote the commentary volume which is contained together with a portfolio of images in an elegant case to compliment the facsimile. Both the facsimile and commentary with portfolio are enclosed in a slipcase covered in marbled paper custom-made to match the manuscript’s colour palette.

An edition of 64 identical copies of a binding of this complexity has, to our knowledge, never before been executed.

Produced in 18 months.

The Song of Songs' closing spread beautifully decorated in yellow, blue and gold. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Printing

The facsimile was printed in 7 colours. Additionally, in order to closely follow the detail of the original, several types of special lacquer, different golds and silver were also used. The spread above features two different types of gold and a vaguely gold tinge has been added to the yellowish background. The calligraphy on the left is silk screened and leaves a raised, high-gloss surface similar to the finish produced by the scribe. The page’s background contains a powdered gold and gold dots are applied to a raised surface. Behind the text, on every page, is concealed a translation in English which can be revealed by pulling on a leather tab (see below).

Binding

Shown below is the progression of the unique marquetry binding. Over 1,000 individual pieces of goatskin are placed by hand in an uninterrupted design starting inside the front cover and continuing over the spine to the inside back cover (watch time-lapse).

Front cover. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>
Inside front cover with laser-cut title. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>
Inside back cover. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>
Back cover. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Hidden behind every page of text is a pull-up translation (hover over image below to reveal).

Concealed translation.  Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd
The 'hidden' translation within every text page.  <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Hidden behind every page of text is a pull-up translation.

The facsimile binding. <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>
The two-volume set housed in a slip-case covered in custom made hand-marbled paper chosen by the client. The single bird on the spine denotes ‘volume one’, the facsimile, and the two birds ‘volume two’, the commentary and portfolio of mounted leaves.  <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Facsimile image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>
Jewish Chronicle Press Review

Jewish Chronicle review

The two-volume set is housed in a slip-case covered in custom made hand-marbled paper chosen by the client. The single bird on the spine denotes ‘volume one’, the facsimile, and the two birds ‘volume two’, the commentary and portfolio of mounted leaves.

The two-volume set is housed in a slip-case covered in custom made hand-marbled paper chosen by the client. The single bird on the spine denotes ‘volume one’, the facsimile, and the two birds ‘volume two’, the commentary and portfolio of mounted leaves.

Jewish Chronicle Press Review

Jewish Chronicle review

Other Custom Projects you may enjoy

Image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd. For use visit: <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Copyright T&C Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Esther Scroll

Two-metre scroll printed on real vellum. Sterling silver case and presentation display. Israel

Image © Copyright 2021 Facsimile Editions Ltd. For use visit: <small><a href="https://www.facsimile-editions.com/copyright/">Copyright T&C Facsimile Editions Ltd</a></small>

Book of Esther

Modern manuscript, goatskin marquetry, concertina binding, specially commissioned marbled paper. Edition of 67 copies. Bnei Brak, Israel

To discuss this or any other project with us please just click below.