Page from a Qur’an
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 3rd–4th centuries / AD 9th–10th centuries
Gazelle skin with gilding, the writing in brown ink (sepia).
Height 27 cm, width 39 cm
Iraq or Syria.
This Qur'an was written in gilt kufic script outlined in brown ink (sepia) on gazelle skin. The verses on the page shown (112: 3– 113: 1) are set in a richly illuminated frame, also gilded and outlined in brown ink. There are no diacritical marks. Vowel marks are shown as red or black dots. The beginning of a new chapter (sura) is only indicated by the basmala (the formula: 'In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful'). Three diagonal lines are placed at the end of the verses.
The Qur'an page is framed by a wide border delineated by narrow bands. The rectangles formed by the border bands form joining sections. The large spaces within these rectangles are filled with decoration including spiralling tendrils with leaves and flowers.
Only five leaves remain to us from this Qur'an, which was made in the AH 3rd–4th / AD 9th–10th centuries in or . Written in kufic script, gilded and richly illuminated, it must have been made for an important mosque or ruler.
Calligraphy developed as a result of careful copying of the Holy Qur'an in order to make it accessible to the masses. This page is written in kufic script, named after the calligraphic centre in the city of Kufa, and its character is plain and rigid yet striking.
The style of writing, the lack of diacritic marks, and the designs used in the illumination all suggest a date of the 3rd–4th / AD 9th–10th centuries.
Ismet Bey, the mayor of Istanbul and a member of the board of directors of the Museum of Islamic Foundations (the old name for the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts), visited the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus while travelling. He had a number of items in the collection at Qubbat al-Hazine (Treasury) of the mosque, including this Qur'an, transferred to the Museum where they were registered in the inventory in around 1332 / 1914.
The Abbasid Empire was centred in Baghdad, and one of its most important regions was Syria. For this reason the object is thought to have been produced either in Iraq or in Syria.
ölçer, N. et al, In Pursuit of Excellence: Works of Art from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul, 1993, p.15.
ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.44–5.
Şule Aksoy "Page from a Qur’an" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;2;en
Prepared by: Şule AksoyŞule Aksoy
Şule Aksoy is Vice Director of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She was born in Istanbul in 1947. She graduated from the Department of History and Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University in 1970. She has been working at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul since 1967, first as an expert, then as the Head of the Manuscripts Department until 2003, when she became Vice Director. She has participated in numerous projects and exhibitions organised by the museum and is the author of various publications.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 02
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Arabic Calligraphy | The Holy Qur’an Geometric Decoration | Geometric Decoration and the Art of the Book
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