I was in the Rubenstein Library the other day, reviewing the condition of some of the bound Ethiopic manuscripts for a research request, when I noticed something interesting going on at the fore-edge of one book.
It turns out that small lengths of colored thread have been sewn through the fore-edge of specific leaves to mark beginning passages of text.
I often see other examples of textblock “wayfinding” through the use of notched pages (otherwise known as a “thumb index”), leather index tabs, or even library patrons affixing their own post-it notes in circulating books – but I was, until now, unfamiliar with the fore-edge tassel. For books with parchment leaves, this seems like a very durable and effective page marking method. They certainly add a little more festive cheer than the typical brown leather tab.