Lot 7
  • 7

An Illuminated Qur'an in Eastern Kufic Script, Persia or Mesopotamia, 11th Century AD

50,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • ink on paper and bound in leather
Arabic manuscript on paper, 289 leaves, text incomplete, probably lacking only 5 leaves (4 at beginning of al-baqarah and one at end comprising final 7 surahs), 17 lines to the page written in small neat eastern Kufic script in black ink on buff paper, letter pointing ('ijam) in black, vocalisation of red dots with tashdids and other symbols in blue, verses separated by small gold florets, tenth verses marked in the margin with exact verse count written in small gold Kufic script within illuminated foliate devices, surah headings written in gold Kufic with simple gold palmettes outlined in blue extending into the margins, opening two surahs marked with illuminated panels, origin of surahs (Makkiyya, Madaniyya) written in the margins in gold Kufic adjacent to surah headings, occasional marginal commentary in red, f.1a with with a rectangular panel containing an ovoid band of eastern Kufic script and 4 illuminated roundels, modern gilt-stamped leather binding, with fitted tan leather slip-case  

Catalogue Note


Circa sixteenth century seal possibly of a Deccani ruler. There is also a Kufic seal impression with the name Mu’min of the ninth century type. Similar Kufic seals are seen on other later manuscripts and paintings and have been suggested as having talismanic values.

This is an important single-volume Qur’an which relates to several other manuscripts of the tenth to twelfth centuries. The pertinent aspects are the size, relatively small at 12.6 by 9.1cm., the ovoid cartouche on the opening page containing a band of eastern Kufic script recording verse and word counts, the format for surah headings of placing the first two (al-Fatiha and al-Baqarah) in illuminated panels on the same page and the rest simply written in gold Kufic with an accompanying palmette, but without any surrounding panels. The two closest parallels are a Qur’an in the British Library (Add. MS 7214), which is dated 427 AH/1036 AD and one in the Khalili Collection (Qur.284 see D. James, The Master Scribes, London, 1992, pp.24-7, no.1).

There is, however, one obvious difference between these two and the present Qur’an. Whereas the British Library and the Khalili manuscripts are written in the new naskh script, the present Qur’an is written in eastern Kufic. This is an interesting factor, indicating that whichever script was chosen for the writing of the main text of the Qur’an at this period, the format and design of the manuscript, especially the aspects mentioned above, were more rigidly set. Other related manuscripts which have one or more of the above characteristics are as follows: three Qur’ans in the Khalili Collection, London (Qur 124, 94 and 86 – see D. James, op.cit., pp.28-9, no.2; F. Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, pp.168-9, 180-1, nos.87, 96); a Qur’an sold at Christie’s, London, 11 April 1989, lot 52; two Qur'ans sold in these rooms 6 April 2011, lot 178 and 6 October 2010, lot 12.