A copy of the Qur’an

Islamic religious texts are not accompanied by representations of the human form; the beauty of early copies of the Qur’an is therefore to be found in a rich calligraphic tradition and ever more elaborate ornamentation. Ornaments mark chapter headings, the end of verses and the beginning of sections; they also emphasize key words and headings. The opening ‘carpet page’ of this manuscript is typical of the decoration found in Shirazi manuscripts of the sixteenth century. The two central roundels contain the first, short chapter of the Qur’an. Above them are two headings, reading: ‘This is the opening chapter of the Book which was revealed at both Mecca and Medina. It consists of seven verses.’ The pages are symmetrical, but not perfectly so as only God is perfect.

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In Arabic; 344 leaves, 390 x 240 mm

Mid-sixteenth-century Persian binding: black goatskin over paper pasteboards, decorated with gilt-blocked panels, some of which are sunk into the boards; the doublures are of red, green, orange and blue paper filigree, combined with gilt tooling