The cover required in order to prevent written pages from scattering and bending was initially made from thin cardboard or, usually, leather, over time this process turned into a craft called bookbinding. Bookbinding first developed in Central Asia and China, from where it spread to other part of the world; it became a profession among Uygur Turks. The bookbinding that spread from Central Asia to Anatolia uses motifs that carry the characteristics of the regions in which the bookbinders grew up.
Beginning in the 14th century, Turks used a variety of bookbinding styles according to their various objectives. During the period of Mehmet II the Conqueror, the bindings made in the bookbinders’ atelier of the Palace and the technique applied repsesent the highest level of classical Turkish bookbinding.
The binding of the manuscripts consists of four parts:
1. Upper and lower covers, forming the protective covering of the book.
2. The back of the book, which is the part that holds the pages together.
3. The tuck of the binding, usually a triangular flap connected to the lower cover. It also serves as a bookmark.
4. The overlapping part between the tuck and lower cover, protecting the covering and sides and also giving mobility to the tuck.
If the motifs on the binding are hand-made, it is called yekşah; if it is pressed with a mould, it is called “inset”; when the whole binding is covered with marbled paper, it is called “marbled” bookbinding; if it is covered with velvet, it is called zerduva bookbinding; when the four corners of the book are decorated with net-like square or rectangular ornamentation, it is named zilbahar bookbinding.
The round or oval rosette at the center of the upper and lower covers and usually on the tuck is called şemse (meaning sun in Arabic); the smaller oval motifs next to the rosette are called şalbek; the motifs decorating the four corners of the cover are called cornerpieces. All motifs are surrounded with a chain motif.