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Anthropodermic bibliopegy is the practice of binding books in human skin. Though uncommon in modern times, the technique dates back to at least the 17th century.


Surviving historical examples of this technique include anatomy texts bound with the skin of dissected cadavers, volumes created as a bequest and bound with the skin of the testator, and copies of judicial proceedings bound in the skin of the murderer convicted in those proceedings, such as the Red Barn Murder.

The libraries of many Ivy League universities include one or more samples of anthropodermic bibliopegy. The rare book collection at the Langdell Law Library at Harvard University holds a book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias Hispaniae, a treatise on Spanish law. A faint inscription on the last page of the book states:

The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my deare friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Btesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.

(The Wavuma are believed to be an African tribe from the region currently known as Zimbabwe.)

The John Hay Library's special books collection at Brown University contains three human-skin books, including a rare copy of De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Vesalius.

Some early copies of Dale Carnegie's Lincoln the Unknown were covered with jackets containing a patch of skin from an African American man, onto which the title had been embossed.[1]

Fiction and legend

Template:Trivia It was commonly believed for a time that prominent Nazis, such as Ilsa Koch, had commissioned the creation of items from the skin of victims of the Holocaust, including books and lampshades. However, no lampshades or books bound in human skin have ever been found,[2] and in the absence of evidence the claim is now held to be a propaganda fabrication. The Nazis are known to have taken and preserved individual pieces of skin, chiefly those sections displaying tattoos; several examples of such can be found within the collections of the National Museum of Health and Medicine and the United States National Archives,[2] although neither institution places these items on display.

In March, 2006 a human skin lampshade was sold for $35 to a collector in post-hurricane Katrina New Orleans. This object was verified at a DNA lab and the frame of the shade was verified as of Eastern European origin dating to 1920-1940. The full story of this object was documented in "The Lampshade" by Mark Jacobson, published by Simon and Schuster in September, 2010.

The binding of books in human skin is also a common element within horror films and works of fiction.

Peter Greenaway's 1996 film The Pillow Book contains a sequence in which the body of a writer is exhumed and his skin painstakingly tanned, written upon, and bound into a book.

In the Evil Dead series of films and comic books originally created by Sam Raimi, a fictional Sumerian book called the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis is bound in human skin and inked with human blood.

The video game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem centers around a book called the Tome of Eternal Darkness which is bound in human flesh.

In the Warhammer Fantasy universe the Nine Books of Nagash are bound in human flesh and penned in human blood.


External links

es:Bibliopegia antropodérmica ja:人皮装丁本 zh:人皮书

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