World’s oldest Jewish Prayer book
Facsimile reproduction in real ship skin (parchment) for the Museum of the Bible, Washington
Siddur or Prayer Book Manuscript
Museum of the Bible, Washington
This tiny manuscript, roughly the size of a modern smart-phone is estimated to be over 1,300 years old and is only about 50 leaves/pages long, written in Hebrew and still encased in its original binding. One of the oldest Siddur manuscripts known to exist, is treasured at the Museum of the Bible, in Washington.
Steve Green, chairman of the Museum of the Bible is the owner of one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical artifacts, known as the Green Collection.
This unique Siddur facsimile was hand-crafted on genuine scribal sheepskin parchment using medieval methods and techniques -honoring the process, traditions and values of ancient manuscript making by the Vellum Page in Manhattan, NY.
Ramón picking up the right parchment at the tannery.
THE STORY OF OUR PARCHMENT
Following the ancient handmade tanning process that has remained very much unchanged over past 13 centuries, skins are scraped, clean and soaked in water, lime and other natural acids to clean and remove all of the hair, fat and other tissue from each hide. After that, they are dried and stretched on wooden frames. They are hand-polished and honed on both sides and finally cut and sorted based on quality and intended use.
THE DIGITAL MASTERING OF UNBINDING
To add more complexity to this already amazingly challenging project, the original Siddur manuscript was not unbound, meaning that we had to painstaking digitally unbind it.
As we were digitally sorting the choirs of this incredibly unique manuscript, we found a number of orphan leaves that appeared to have separated over the centuries from where they may have originally been bound.
THE ALCHEMY OF OUR ARTISANS
Before commencing on the calligraphy of this project, our scribes had to ready the parchment by preparing the surface with a combination of a ancient mix of powder sandarac and fine pumice.
Afterwards the calligraphy work is done using only ancient inks including iron gall, walnut and lamp black mixed with Arabic gum.
THE CURLING PROCESS
We have a sophisticated proprietary production system consisting of a blending of ancient and modern materials and techniques.
THE AGING PROCESS
This phase of the project couldn’t have been more challenging ; we were tasked with creating a facsimile that looks, feels, sounds and smells as the same as the original ancient Siddur that was done thirteen hundred years ago.
This stage was not an easy undertaking. We relied on a global team of our artisans experts and flew to visit chemists who have consulted and worked on a number of project with NASA and 3M.
Other archival inks and treatments have been used to preserve the quality and durability of this facsimile.
This unique Siddur facsimile was hand-crafted on genuine scribal sheepskin parchment using medieval methods and techniques -honoring the process, traditions and values of ancient manuscript making.
We at the Vellum Page are at the leading edge of innovation in rare manuscript facsimiles and custom project production. We proudly continue the great legacy of facsimile, manuscript and codex creation done here in the United States of America dating back to 1773.