Preparing A Manuscript
The first stage in creating a manuscript is to prepare the skin so that the writer can write on it. The skin is washed with water and lime, but not together, and it has to soak in the lime for a couple of days. The hair is removed and the skin is dried by attaching it to a frame called a herse. The parchment maker attached the skin at points around the circumference. The skin is attached to the herse by cords; to prevent tearing, the maker wrapped the area of the skin to which the cord is to be attached around a pebble called a pippin. After that is complete, the maker will use a crescent shaped knife, called lunarium or lunellum, to clean any surviving hairs. Once the skin is completely dry, it will be given a deep clean, and it will be processed into sheets. The number of sheets out of a piece of skin depends on the size of the skin and the given dimensions requested by the order. For example, the average calfskin can provide three and half medium sheets of writing material. This can be doubled when it is folded into two conjoint leaves, also known as a bifolium. Historians have found evidence of manuscripts where the scribe wrote down the medieval instructions now followed by modern membrane makers. Defects can often be found in the membrane, whether from the original animal, human error during the preparation period or from when the animal was killed. Defects can also appear during the writing process. Unless it is kept in perfect condition, defects can appear later in the manuscript’s life as well.
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