Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Portable Qur’an Manuscript

Object Name:
Non-illustrated manuscript
17th century
Iran or Turkey
Ink and gold on paper; leather binding
H. 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm) W. 1 1/4in. (3.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph W. Drexel, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
Diminutive Qur’ans were used both as amulets and devotional objects. Historical texts and paintings reveal that in Ottoman Turkey tiny manuscripts like this example, referred to as sançak (banner) Qur’ans, functioned as talismanic pendants which were placed in metal boxes or pouches and attached to the shaft of military standards (ʿalams). They were also sometimes worn as armbands or around a soldier’s neck, or they could have been affixed to a weapon or a ceremonial object. Although difficult to read due to the small size of the writing, these Qur'ans were thought to empower and protect the sultan and his troops in battle.
Joseph W. Drexel, New York (until d. 1888); his widow, Lucy Wharton Drexel(1888–89; gifted to Museum in Joseph Drexel's name)
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