A 27 years of waiting..

As I’m always saying; my first design instructor was Mohie El Deen El Labbad, the late artist, designer and cartoonist–or as he used to describe himself: A bookmaker!

I started reading Labbad articles in Majed magazine, at the age of 8 and 9, he had a weekly article about art, design thinking, graphic design, art critique, visual understanding, culture and identity re-forming, all for children readers, of course, he was the pioneer, and sadly saying; I’m not sure if there is anyone still doing this at the present time.

He launched several series, each having one title and one theme, in this article from 1988, he wrote under the title “The Beautiful Books’ Closet – خزانة الكتب الجميلة” a review on something he admired a lot; the Arab Arts. The catalog was published by The Freer Gallery of Art, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museums in Washington, 1975.

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Arabic Margin Art!

My favorite book seller has called me few days ago to see his new (historic) collection of Arabic manuscripts and books, it was a leather bag contains couple of tens of different manuscript from different origins, and another five books that are totally handwritten. The subjects of these books and manuscripts were about Islamic religious provisions and some Arabic language grammar.

I was amazed by two books from the collection, they have got a very unique styles for the margins, which was an important space in each Arabic book, so the author or the scholar could write more comments and highlights that are connected with the page content. The source of one of them was Dagestan, 1903,  and the other book is unknown, but I assume it’s from the same region and the same time period.

In this post I’ll share some beautiful pictures of this “Margin Art” with my commentary on them.

The unknown book:

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– An ordinary spread view of the book, you can see the main body text, and there is some really size text between its lines, and of course you can see the margins and how were they been utilized.

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Nazar One – Mohie El-Deen El-Labbad

The rare book of Labbad: Nazar One, which means look or view in Arabic.

Nazar books were basically a collection of Labbad articles in some Egyptians magazines like Sabah El Khair. The book was printed in March 1987, then issued again as Nazar Two and Nazar Three during the nineties..

As you’ll notice, the book is really important, it might be the only material that talks about and critiques design, art, graphic design and visual culture in Egypt and the Arab world.

The book was scanned and prepared by Mohammad Sabbagh and Hussein Alazaat for the Labbad tumblr page.

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