Most western bookmaking styles originate from Egypt such as the Coptic stitch, but in the more eastern part of the world, styles are more linked with India. “Religious sutras were copied onto palm leaves, which were split down the middle, dried, and rubbed with ink. These finished leaves were numbered and bound with twine” (Masters). This and the Buddhist development of the accordion style for their sutras all influenced the design of Japanese Stab Binding, an ancient and traditional technique still used today. Japan is the most known version of this technique known as Yotsume Toji [四つ目綴じ], “which roughly translates to ‘four holes’” (blog.paperblanks.com). During the Tokugawa / Edo period (1603-1867), the form Yotsume Toji [四つ目綴じ] became widely used after the system of book trading was established. “Practised in China early as the Tang period, widespread by the Ming dynasty period (1368-1644), and transmitted to Japan in the Muromachi period (1392-1573), by end of which, in the late 16th century, it had become the standard form for printed books.” Pages were designed to have printed or handwritten text on only one side and placed on top of eachother. The assembled pages were then sewn together, its “stitches passing through the blank margins next to the loose edges, so the sewn edges form the spine and folds form the edges of pages. This stringbound style continued through the Meiji period.” (bookbindersmuseum.org)
The technique is fairly simple, but it can get more complex depending on the design aesthetic desired. A tutorial video is below of the basic technique:
while others decorate the edge with intricate patterns which require more holes. Yotsume Toji (Four-Hole Binding), as previously mentioned, is the most common and straightforward style known for its Japanese origin, but there are other types known as Koki Toji (Noble Binding), Asa-No-Ha Toji (Hemp Leaf Binding), and Kikko Toji (Tortoise Shell Binding). Koki Toji is a “Chinese variant, also known as Kangxi, which has two extra holes near the corners for additional strength and decoration.” Asa-No-Ha Toji is “a variation of Kangxi with more holes, including corner stitching, creating a more elaborate and durable binding” as shown in the images to the right . Lastly, Kikko Toji is “similar to Asa-No-Ha Toji, without stitching around the corners” (blog.paperblanks.com).
I find this technique quite lovely and simple to do. I understand why it is so popular in scrapbooking and photo albums. For me, this topic is fascinating because of my love of Japanese culture. Since taking this class on book arts, I began to wonder how the development of book styles were affected by location. Plus, I love the intricate and ornate designs of open spine books like the Coptic stitch.