Two pages from the Blue Qur’an
Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia
Museum of Islamic Art
Hegira 4th century / AD 10th century (second half)
Parchment dyed with indigo, illuminated.
Length 31 cm, width 41 cm; 15 lines
Very probably from Kairouan, a great centre for book production at that time.
Two pages taken from an unique Qur'an, written in gilt kufic script and containing the suras Luqman (31: 34) and al-Sajdah ('Prostration' 32: 1–3).
Preliminary analyses has established that the indigo used for the dye was imported from Egypt or India, countries with which trade was beginning to develop in the AH 4th / AD 10th century. The gold-leaf was glued to the parchment using egg white.
The writing is compact and lacks any diacritical signs over the vowels. The letters are not stippled with dots.
The title of the sura is in a gilded strip made up of several small floral motifs. Attached to this strip and toward the left margin of the page is a gilt palm-leaf motif of floral arabesques. Marking the divisions between the verses are silver-gilt flowerets which have turned black from oxidisation.
Contrary to the views of certain art historians, the various pages of Qur'ans copied onto blue parchment and kept in a number of different museums and collections throughout the world originate neither from Mashhad in Iran nor from Spain. They all belong to the Blue Qur'an from the library of the Great Mosque of Kairouan. This is confirmed by similarities in the measurements, the number of lines, the writing and the gilding.
Two pages belonging to a single Qur'an: the Blue Qur'an, copied in gold kufic script. They contain the suras Luqman and al-Sajda. Pages from the Blue Qur'an from the Great Mosque of Kairouan, copied onto blue vellum, can now be found in different places throughout the world.
The simple and archaic kufic calligraphy is reminiscent of the writing in other Qur'ans of the 4th / 10 century taken from the old library of the Great Mosque of Kairouan. This is corroborated by the palaeographic study carried out by the art historian M. Bloom, who showed that the calligraphy is of Maghrebi origin and can be dated from the 4th / 10th century, and even from the second half of that century.
After the abolition of the habus foundation in Tunisia, the National Library obtained this Qur'an in 1967. In 1983 it went back to Kairouan, to the Centre of the Islamic Arts and Civilisation of Raqqada. It has been displayed at the Raqqada Museum of Islamic Art since 1986.
From the same studies by the art historian M. Bloom.
De Kairouan a Carthage (exhibition catalogue), Tunis, 1995, p.41.
Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, pp.159–62, 182–3.
Mourad Rammah "Two pages from the Blue Qur’an" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tn;Mus01;2;en
Prepared by: Mourad RammahMourad Rammah
Né en 1953 à Kairouan, docteur en archéologie islamique, Mourad Rammah est le conservateur de la médina de Kairouan. Lauréat du prix Agha Khan d'architecture, il publie divers articles sur l'histoire de l'archéologie médiévale islamique en Tunisie et participe à différentes expositions sur l'architecture islamique. De 1982 à 1994, il est en charge du département de muséographie du Centre des arts et des civilisations islamiques. Mourad Rammah est également directeur du Centre des manuscrits de Kairouan.
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: David Ash
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TN 02
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Arabic Calligraphy | The Holy Qur’an
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