Lot 7
  • 7

An illuminated Qur'an juz' in Maghribi script on vellum, North Africa or Spain, 1250-1350 AD

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
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  • ink and gold on vellum, bound leather
Arabic manuscript on vellum, 104 leaves plus 2 flyleaves, 5 lines to the page, written in large Maghribi script in dark brown ink, f.1a with possibly later illuminated frontispiece, verses separated by large gold florets, diacritics in blue and yellow, fifth verses represented by large stylised teardrop motifs, double page illuminated finispiece, mostly obscured, red morocco binding with tooled medallions and borders, with flap

Catalogue Note

This finely calligraphed Qur'an section in Maghribi script is typical of Qur'an production from the Islamic west. Compared to the Qur'ans of the east, the calligraphers and illuminators of Spain and North Africa remained faithful to the traditional style, with Kufic surah headings and vellum used for centuries after paper took precedence in the east. For examples of Maghribi manuscript production refer to David James, Qur'ans and Bindings from the Chester Beatty Library, London, 1980, p.109-117. A bifolium from a different but related Qur'an, also with five large lines to a page, was exhibited in the exhibition Ink and Gold - Islamic Calligraphy, Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin, in 2006 (see Fraser and Kwiatkowski 2006, no.20, pp.70-71).

It is difficult to ascertain the geographical origin of manuscripts such as the present example on the basis of the script alone. Scribes were often expatriate during this period, so that a scribe working in Andalusian style who was a native of Valencia, for example, could have been resident in Morocco. Whilst the romantic notions ascribed to Andalusia have resulted in the attribution of many manuscripts' origin there, Marcus Fraser has argued that Merinid Fez was equally as likely a contender, due to its great wealth and sophistication during this period (ibid, p.80). The Merinid rulers' extensive artistic patronage led to a flourishing of crafts and refined architecture, and Fez became a hub of science and humanities at a time when Nasrid Granada was essentially a kingdom in decline.