Hand-carved woodblock

[Arabic-script wood-printing block]. Hand-carved woodblock engraved with "Safr Nishd al-Nishad li-Suleyman" (the Song of Solomon).

[Probably Ottoman provinces, mid-18th century (ca. 1750)].

A single hand-carved woodblock (ca. 170 by 110/92 by 220 mm) for use as printing block, together with a print on 18th century paper (165 x 105 mm).


Woodblock in Ottoman Turkish for a Hebrew publication of the Song of Solomon, probably produced in the Ottoman regions of the Levant for a rural printing press. A rare survival of a printing tool, and also an important witness to cross-cultural printing for minority audiences in the Ottoman world.

Includes a print of the text reading "Safr Nishd al-Nishad li-Suleyman wa'ighal ba-l'Abraniyat Sir Hashirim", printed on a piece of 18th-century paper pasted to a cutting from a Croatian printed book ("Pasha Duhovna", on Spirituality and the Passover).

Some small wormholes in the wood, post-dating the print; carved side stained black from ink used for printing. Printing devices such as this are often discarded or recycled and rarely survive in such condition as the present example.