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Introduction to rebinding and an example of scroll to accordion-type book conversion

Prof. Sasaki will talk about several rebinding techniques in this video clip.

In this step, you’ll learn a basic idea about rebinding and format changing, watch a video about one of the five most common types of rebinding.

By now you must have pretty good sense of the importance and significance of binding methods in traditional bookmaking. However, it is important to note that the current binding of a book is not always its original one. Until now the practice of rebinding has been almost completely overlooked, but it deserves to be taken seriously.

Changing the cover

In traditional books, the cover is as important as the format. For example, the material and design of the cover often tells us where and when the book was made. At the same time, replacing covers was extremely common. Covers could get easily soiled or damaged, and owners or traders would frequently replace them to improve the look of their books or to increase their value. The practice continues to this very day. Applying a new, high-end cloth cover to old manuscripts was especially common (Fig.1).

*Eiga no taigai* Fig.1. Eiga no taigai (Essentials of Composition).
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Changing the format of the entire book

In other cases, the entire book was rebound, thus completely altering its initial appearance. Sometimes it is close to impossible to tell whether a book was rebound or not. Occasionally scrolls were converted to accordion-type books to make the text easier to read, but in the vast majority of cases books were rebound to increase their value.

The five most common types of conversion were the following.

  1. Scroll to accordion-type book
  2. Accordion-type book to scroll
  3. Tetsuyōsō to scroll
  4. Fukurotoji to scroll
  5. Fukurotoji to tetsuyōsō

Scroll to accordion-type book

One of the most common conversions is from scroll to accordion book (Fig.2). The details are explained below. Please watch the video for an example.

Procedure: Roller and cover are removed. The scroll is then folded in equal lengths and in alternate directions (known as “mountain fold” [yamaori] and “valley fold” [taniori] in Japanese). Lastly, the cover is reapplied.

How to tell: Look for scroll-like curls and marks on the paper; check if there is writing on the creases (this shows that originally there was no crease there).

Main advantage: Ease of use.

*Myōhō rengekyō* Fig.2. Example of scroll to accordion-style book conversion: Myōhō rengekyō (Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law).
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Japanese Culture Through Rare Books

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