Writing in the West

18, Baghdad Paper

Baghdad paper

Baghdad paper, 2011-3776

There were three important innovations in paper making in the Islamic world. One, mulberry bark fibres (unavailable in most of the region) were replaced by linen rag fibres. Two, hand-beating used to prepare the fibres was replaced by the use of trip hammers, later driven by water power. Three, a paper mould (consisting of a wooden frame whose base was covered by a netting of fine metal wire to catch the intertwined fibres) was introduced. These three innovations allowed papermaking to be conducted on a much larger scale and in many more places.


Paper was being made in Baghdad by 793 CE. Here you see an example of early Baghdad paper (802-809  CE) carrying the holy inscription in Arabic; ‘Allah is the only God, and Muhammad is his prophet’ It was part of a contract that was cut into eight pieces which were then used for amuletic purposes.  The signatories for the original contract are on the reverse.