Lot 4
  • 4

A Qur'an Leaf in Kufic Script, North Africa or Near East, late 9th Century AD

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • ink on vellum
text: surah al-qalam (LXVIII), verses 32 to 37
Arabic manuscript on vellum, 7 lines to the page, written in elongated Kufic script in brown ink, vocalisation represented by red and yellow dots, verse divisions marked by clusters of 6 gold dots, wide outer margins indicating the leaf has not been trimmed, fifth verse marked by a pear-shaped floral motif in red and gold

Catalogue Note

This folio is a superb example of 'Abbasid luxury Qur'an production at its most stylised point in the late ninth century. It is perhaps possible to define this style (equating to Déroche's group 'D' styles) as the mature 'Abbasid Kufic', with the script displaying the 'sober beauty' that Déroche mentions in the catalogue of the Nasser D. Khalili Collection (Déroche 1992, no.21). Manuscripts with this kind of austere beauty seem to emphasise the power and significance of the text through the execution of a confident hand; the use of horizontal stretching (mashq) abstracts some of the letters which underlines the centrality and iconic status of the word of the Qur'an. The vertical letter-forms provide a visual balance to the horizontal elongation but for the time being they are not the focus. Other features of the script which characterise the style include a relatively wide and even spacing of the letters along the lines and of the lines on the page; a typical horizontal format for the text area and page; few or no original letter-points, and a regular visual rhythm.

Various leaves from the same manuscript have been sold in these rooms, 25 April 2012, lot 401; 5 October 2011, lot 56; 1 April 2009, lot 1; 9 April 2008, lot 17; 24 October 2007, lot 8 and 18 April 2007, lot 4. Other related leaves and manuscripts are as follows: Qairawan, Musée des Arts Islamiques (Carthage, no.328); Nasser D. Khalili Collection, London (Déroche 1992, no.21); a bifolium exhibited in Berlin 2006 in the exhibition Ink and Gold (Fraser and Kwiatowski, no.7); Sotheby's, 29 April 1998, lots 5 & 6, 15 October 1997, lots 2 & 7; Bernard Quaritch, cat.121, no.4. A bifolium from the same manuscript was exhibited in Writing the Word of God - Calligraphy and the Qur'an, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 2007 - February 2008 (Houston 2007, pp.18-19, figure 6).