Arts of the Book: Manuscripts, Folios, Bindings
Manuscript Of A Qajar Qur’an
Qajar, dated 1220 H/1805 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper; lacquer binding
24.7 x 15 cm
The rise of large-scale painting and, eventually, photography in Iran under the Qajar dynasty did not mean that illustrated and illuminated manuscript production came to an end, as extant codices attest. Qur’ans were certainly no exception. This manuscript is especially interesting for the great amount of information it reveals in its colophon: the patron was Hajji Mirza Zayn al-'Abidin Tahir, known as Iyaz Itram-Raghi. The scribe and illuminator were a father-and-son team, Ibn Muhammad Baqir Muhammad al-Musawi al-Lahiji and Al-Mudhahib ibn al-Katib Abu’l-Qasim al-Musawi, who completed the manuscript in 1220 H/1805 CE, during the early years of Fath 'Ali Shah’s reign (r. 1797-1834 CE). The Qur’an includes 375 leaves, each page containing twelve lines of text in naskh script, with Persian interlinear translations executed in red, sura headings in red thuluth, and occasional marginal Persian glosses in a black nasta'liq. It is heavily ornamented with floral and vegetal decoration in red, blue, white, green and gold, all part of an overall layered composition of lobed and rectangular bands that frame the Qur’anic text. On the folios shown here the cartouches that would include the sura headings were left unfinished. These pages mark the beginning of the manuscript; the right hand folio includes the Surat al-Fatiha (The Opening), the first chapter of the Qur’an, and is followed on the next page by the initial four ayats, or verses, of the second chapter, Surat al-Baqara (The Cow). The calligrapher and illuminator treated these opening pages with particular care to ensure a successful first impression on the reader. The quality of calligraphy and abundance of colour and gilded decoration suggest the patron was a wealthy individual, probably connected to the Qajar court.
© 2007 The Aga Khan Development Network. This is the only authorised Website of the Aga Khan Development Network.