Five Folios from a Qur’an

gold, black ink and opaque watercolour on vellum

copied in Kufic script; 15 lines to the page

27.5 x 36.8cm 

Text: surah al-Qasas (XXVIII) verse 70, to surah al-‘Ankabut (XXIX) verse 40.

The text is written in gold and the letters are outlined in black ink. Exceptionally, it has an illuminated frame in gold and polychrome, with bands of interlace broken by Hercules knots and a tassel-like marginal ornament with wings and tiny pomegranates. There are diacritical strokes in ink, and red dots indicate the vocalization. A gold stroke separates the verses, while the passage of five and ten verses are marked respectively by a Kufic letter ha’ and a square surrounded by dots. A decorative band on folio 2 verso has the title and verse count, recorded in abjad, of surah al-‘Ankabut.

The size of the vellum pages, the gold script and the fine illumination all show that this Qur’an was produced regardless of expense for a rich and demanding patron.

F. Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, vol. I, London 1992, cat.41, pp.90–91.

J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, Londn 2010, cat.6, p.33.