Arts of the Book: Manuscripts, Folios, Bindings
Bifolium From A Qur’an
circa 1300-50 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper
64 x 38.9 cms
There are varying suggestions as to the geographical location of where this Qur’an may have been produced. Although an Il-Khanid Persia or Mamluk Egypt origin cannot be discounted, this Qur’an has certain features that suggest an alternative place of manufacture: Yemen, during the period of Rasulid rule (1229-1454 CE). This Qur’an is copied in a combination of three scripts: the first and last lines are in muhaqqaq, the middle line (5th line on the right page and 7th line on the left page) is in gold thuluth, and the remainder of the text is written in black naskh. It is rare to find Mamluk Qur’ans in different types of script, and none are known “with three styles on the same page” (James 1992, p. 160). Another unusual feature is the decoration of the chapter heading: in this case, that of Sura Hud. The text is in white kufic and this is set within a gold panel with latticework decoration at either end, terminating in a pear-shaped medallion in the outer margin; squares of interlace, although seldom found on Mamluk Qur’ans, are known in Il-Khanid manuscripts, however. The verses on this bifolium - which is sequential - are separated by eight-petalled gold rosettes, with each fifth verse identified “in the margin by a gold pear-shaped device with a floral motif in the centre and an irregular blue border culminating in a long finial” (ibid.); the tenth verse is marked by a gold roundel with a blue border.
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