By: Storm Henry
The first records of paper-making in Japan originate to roughly 600 A.D. and one of the oldest binding methods in Japanese history is the stab binding technique. The stitch itself is rectangular in shape and offers a sturdy, grid-like structure to the book's contents. It is also often seen on the surface of the book rather than hidden as opposed to methods like a pamphlet stitch. The four main variations of stab binding are as follows: Hemp Leaf binding, Noble binding, Tortoise Shell binding, and Four Eye Binding (the most commonly utilized variation). These methods of binding were commonly used to make Orihon (folding) book and this structure is one of the oldest book forms in Japanese history. The Orihon was then followed by Detchoso (butterfly books) and were commonly used for hand copied manuscripts.
There are plenty of benefits to using a stab binding technique compared to a typical method like a pamphlet stitch. One of the said benefits is that the stab bind allows for a variety of textures, weights, and colors of paper to be used in the overall structure due to the stitch providing a durable hold.
Some great examples of stab binding can be seen in an online based shop called Fabulous Cat Papers. This lesser known shop is based out of Athens and was founded by a woman named Chara, who named the shop after her departed cat that lived to be 21 years old. She combines her love of embroidery and notebooks into one to create custom notebooks. Adding the embroidery to the notebooks gives them a unique, textured aesthetic. They are all made one hundred percent by hand and depict themes of anatomy as well as scientific illustration. The owner also takes inspiration from traditional Japanese paintings. Almost all of her notebooks are made using the stab binding technique.
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American Bookbinders Museum. "Japanese Bookbinding" Jul. 2015.