Board for Ruling Paper

Object Name: Writing tool

Date: 17th–18th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran or Turkey

Medium: Cotton twine and ink on paper

Dimensions: H. 9-1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
W. 6-5/8 in. (16.8 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Gift of H.P. Kraus, 1973

Accession Number: 1973.1


Before the scribe could begin copying text onto folios, he had to rule the sheets in some discreet manner to produce lines to follow when writing the text. These lines could be made in a variety of ways. The most common method was to prick tiny holes with a needle or knife along the outer edges of the unfolded bifolios. The horizontal ruling lines were then made by connecting the prickings with a stylus that had a carbon or lead point. Ruling lines could also be produced in a faster manner, using an instrument called a ruling frame, a board with parallel strings or wires fixed across it. The slightly dampened paper would be pressed against the frame, and the strings would cause tiny raised ridges on each leaf, forming raised lines.