This is a very rare example of a Fatimid book binding. A similar binding was exhibited in the Hayward Gallery exhibition in 1976 (The Arts of Islam, exhibition catalogue, 1976, no. 507, p. 319).
The raised decoration was achieved by glueing cords onto a wooden board over which the leather was then tooled. The other side of the one in the exhibition was covered in parchment. In the present example, the tooled leather has been laid down on a rigid leather structure. Several of these bindings were found in an abandoned room of the Great Mosque in Kairouan. The technique is of Coptic origin and is related to a 7th century Anglo-Saxon binding of the St. Cuthbert gospel at Stonyhurst College.
The Fatimid library in Cairo was burned in 1065 under al-Mustansir and again under Salah al-Din. Consequently, manuscripts and bindings of this period are very rare.
Marcais, G and Poinssot, L.: Objets Kairouannais IX au XIII siecle, Tunis, 1948