Georgios Boudalis will be giving a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, March 23 at 12:15 pm. His talk is entitled “Where Books and Fabrics Merge: The Endbands of the Eastern Mediterranean Bookbindings.”


Georgios Boudalis is Head of the Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, Greece. He has worked in monastic libraries in Mount Athos and Sinai as well as in a number of smaller manuscript collections in Greece. He received his PhD in 2005 from the University of the Arts, London, where he studied the evolution of Byzantine and post-Byzantine bookbinding. His main interest is the evolution of bookbinding structures and techniques in the Eastern Mediterranean. He has published on issues of bookbinding history and manuscript conservation and has taught courses on the history of Byzantine and related bookbindings, both on a historical and practical basis. Boudalis came to Bard Graduate Center in 2015 as a Research Fellow, was a Visiting Adjunct Professor in fall 2016, and is currently working on a Focus Project entitled The Early Codex and the Crafts of Late Antiquity, which opens in February 2018 in the Bard Graduate Center Gallery.

Endbands are small bands sewn along the top edge of the spine of books and are a standard feature of books bound by hand. “Fake” versions still survive on hardcover books as a small detail implying quality craftsmanship. Endbands are to books what edge finishes are to fabrics—they seal and reinforce the edges, preventing them from wearing out. The fact that they share the same function is not coincidental. In this talk, Boudalis will argue that in structural terms books can be understood as fabrics, and as such their edges require protection. From sewing to embroidery, and from twining to weaving, endbands are made with a surprising variety of techniques and decorative patterns, all transferred and adapted from fabrics. Some of these endbands are so characteristic in both technique and pattern that they prove to be an important feature for the identification of provenance and dating of bookbindings and thus of texts.