What is it about?

Block prints were used in medieval Egypt well before the invention of movable type. The texts printed in this way are mostly amulets, or magical texts.

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Why is it important?

Arabic block prints are rare, but important in the development of print. Though they did not use separate blocks for single letters, they were clearly modular -- blocks of text, and decoration were combined, and re-combined to make up new texts.


Some Arabic block prints are almost illegible, but perhaps they were never meant to be read -- given that these were amulets, they were addressed to spirits, or angels, and not meant to be seen by the human eye.

Mark Muehlhaeusler
American University in Cairo

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This page is a summary of: Eight Arabic Block Prints from the Collection of Aziz S. Atiya, Arabica, January 2008, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/157005808x364580.
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