Analysis of Deterioration Phenomena in a Koran by Nineteenth Century Ottoman Calligrapher Mehmed Sevki

Ozgorus N. K. , Ünlü C. H. , GRUPCE O., Bakan F., Sezen M.

RESTAURATOR-INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR THE PRESERVATION OF LIBRARY AND ARCHIVAL MATERIAL, vol.38, no.4, pp.331-354, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 38 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1515/res-2017-0002
  • Page Numbers: pp.331-354
  • Keywords: Islamic manuscript, deteriorated paper, iron ions oxidation, Raman pigment characterization, SEM-EDS and FTIR study, SODIUM-HYDROXIDE, CARBON-DIOXIDE, CELLULOSE, PIGMENTS, PAPER, FTIR, SPECTRA, LIBRARY


A Koran written by Mehmed Sevki is the subject of this comparative analysis. This manuscript displayed an extensive degree of deterioration in 28 of the folios, while the rest of the manuscript is in considerably better condition. The aforementioned deteriorated sections of the book proved to be brittle and much darker in colour compared to the rest of this manuscript. The possible cause for this condition was ascertained using complementary techniques including the utilisation of micro-chemical (spot) tests, SEM-EDS, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy. The Micro-chemical Herzberg test indicated rag fibres in the paper used for the Koran, while the Raspail test #1 revealed rosin only in the sizing material of the deteriorated folios. SEM-EDS identified the presence of iron in all layers of the deteriorated folios but not in the stable folios. These results led subsequently to the conclusion that the deterioration of the folios was in fact related to the acid-catalysed hydrolysis due mainly to the presence of rosin and oxidation processes promoted by iron ions. This finding was also supported by FTIR analysis. The analyses indicated that different sizing materials had been used in the papermaking process of the two types of folios. In addition, Raman, EDS and HPLC techniques were also applied for the characterization of the inks and dyes. The results showed that inks and dyes were consistent throughout the entire text, thus suggesting calligrapher Mehmed Sevki and illuminator Huseyin processed the book continually. It is plausible that calligrapher Mehmed Sevki changed his paper supply during the writing process which is why today we see a variety of differences in the condition of the papers.