These folios from a dispersed Qur'an exemplify the transition during the Seljuq period from Qur'ans written in kufic script on parchment to those copied in the more rounded new-style writing on paper. By the late twelfth century, the practitioners of the new style had perfected its mannered, slightly eccentric forms. As seen here, these include the extreme elongation of tall letters and the ellipse formed by combining two of these letters, lam and alif.
This folio from a dispersed Qur’an exemplifies the transition during the Seljuq period from Qur’ans written in squared kufic script on parchment to those written in the more rounded new-style script on paper. The new style was not uniformly adopted in Iran, but by the late twelfth century its practitioners had perfected its mannered, slightly eccentric forms. In this manuscript the script is characterized by the extreme elongation of tall letters, particularly lam, alif, and kaf. On this page, letters that extend below the line of the text, such as nun and alif maqsura, are written on the diagonal with a narrow stroke that widens and terminates in a bowl shape. The folio comes from sura 5 of the Qur’an, and features verses 22 to 24. The original manuscript consisted of thirty parts, for reading one volume each day of the month. In addition to the script the rich decoration of looping vines, blossoms, and leaves between the lines of text sets the manuscript apart from most others copied in this script, with the exception of one Qur’an signed by a Ghaznavid scribe and dated A.H. 573/ A.D. 1177–78. On the basis of its stylistic relationship to this latter Qur’an, this manuscript has been dated to about 1180 and assigned to the eastern Iranian world. However, comparable decorative leaf forms can be found in the mid-twelfth-century Gunbad-i ’Alaviyan at Hamadan as well as on lusterware ceramics presumably made in Kashan, which could indicate that the manuscript was made in a place closer to central Iran. Sheila R. Canby in [Canby, Beyazit, and Rugiadi 2016]
Inscription: "Eastern kufic" script, from sura 5:22-23 ("of the Food")
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, New York (until 1929; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rumi," October 15, 2007–March 5, 2008, no catalogue.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs," April 25, 2016–July 24, 2016, no. 183.
Canby, Sheila R., Deniz Beyazit, and Martina Rugiadi. "The Great Age of the Seljuqs." In Court and Cosmos. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. no. 183, p. 283, ill. (color).