Attributed to present-day Uzbekistan, probably Samarqand
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 17 5/16 in. (44 cm)
W. 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm)
Anonymous Gift, 1972
Not on view
These two lines of calligraphy in elegant muhaqqaq script are from chapter 40 (Sura al-Mu'min, The Believer) of the Qur'an. The fragment on which they are written was once part of a Qur'an manuscript that is probably the largest ever produced. Originally, each page included seven lines of script copied on one side only. A double-page would fit perfectly into the gigantic stone Qur'an stand made for the congregational mosque of Bibi Khanum in Samarqand and commissioned by a grandson of Timur (Tamerlane, d. 1405). Its calligrapher was likely the renowned 'Umar Aqta'. Historical sources tell us that 'Umar tried to impress Timur by writing a Qur’an so small that it could fit under a signet ring. When the sultan was unmoved, 'Umar wrote a Qur'an so large that it had to be brought to Timur on a cart.
Inscription: Qur'anic inscription in muhaqqaq script 28:83-84
This piece is the lower part of 21.26.12
Private collection(until 1972; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fifty Years of Collecting Islamic Art," September 23, 2013–January 26, 2014, no catalogue.
Ettinghausen, Richard. "Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 1975). ill. pp. 30-31 (b/w).
Swietochowski, Marie, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Notable Acquisitions 1965–1975 (1975). p. 134, ill. (b/w).
Soucek, Priscilla. "The Arts of Calligraphy." In The Arts of the Book in Central Asia: 14th–16th centuries, edited by Basil Gray. London, Paris: Serindia Publications/ Unesco, 1979. pp. 11, 14, ill. fig. 2 (b/w).
"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 66, pp. 170-171, ill. p. 171 (b/w).