Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Section from a Qur'an Manuscript

Object Name:
Section from a non-illustrated manuscript
ca. 1300
Morocco or Southern Spain
Ink, gold, and opaque watercolor on parchment
7 15/16 x 7 9/16 in. (20.2 x 19.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2004
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 457
As the second volume of a seven-part Qur'an manuscript, this codex contains no colophon, but it opens with an elaborately illuminated double page bearing intricate geometric strapwork closely comparable to designs of Andalusian and North African tiles. Marginalia indicate that this Qur'an once belonged to the library of a ribat (hostel) in the holy city of Medina accommodating Moroccan residents.
Containing Suras 5 through 9, this codex represents the second volume of a seven-volume Qur’an. As a medial volume, it has no colophon, but a few of the pages bear waqf inscriptions that indicate its endowment to a ribat in Medina known as the Ribat Sayyidna ‘Uthman. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, ribats generally functioned as accommodations for indigent Muslims, sufis, or travelers. Most were founded by individuals from other regions whose endowments often specified their own compatriots as eligible residents. Such was the case with the Ribat Sayyidna ‘Uthman, which was dedicated to Maghribi residents. Undoubtedly, it is through this connection that the library of the ribat obtained this manuscript, which was probably made in Morocco.

In most respects, the manuscript exhibits the highly traditional approach typical of Qur’an production in the Maghrib. Although paper had been introduced to the region well before this volume was made, parchment was favored there for Qur’ans and other religious texts through the fourteenth century. The square format of the text block here is another characteristic feature. The two opening pages are written entirely in black-contoured lettering infilled with gold, but most of the others are executed in thick brown ink, in the maghribi script. When no illuminated heading is present, both the incipit pages and the continuing pages bear eleven lines of text. Characteristically, qaf is indicated by one dot above the grapheme, and fa’ by one dot below it; green dots are used for hamzat al-wasl, yellow dots for hamzat al-qat, blue-green ink for shadda and sukun, and red lines for vowel markers. The graphemes combine features of the two subtypes of maghribi calligraphy: the compact, rhythmic scroll of the andalusi-type lettering and the sinuous, sprawling flourishes of the fasi script. Another singular feature of this manuscript appears on the pages with gold lettering: the looped letter forms—such as sad, dad, and ta—are filled with pigment.

The manuscript opens with an illuminated double page that features a design of gold-bordered white strapwork enclosing gold palmettes against a blue ground. Every fifth verse is marked by gold trefoil motifs embellished with red and blue dots, and every tenth verse by gold disks supplemented by marginal roundels containing the word ‘ashara. Large circular devices in gold and pigments signal hizb divisions. Most of the Sura headings are distinguished by gold kufic letters with marginal split-palmette medallions. The heading on the opening page, however, is set within an illuminated panel against a blue ground within a pearl border, flanked by knotted interlace and surrounded by a gold braid with a circular-palmette medallion in the margin. Similar compositions surround the text on the bottom half of the penultimate page (folio 88v) and all of the final page (folio 89r).

Ellen Kenney (author) in [Ekhtiar et al. 2011]
Inscription: Sura 5 (al-Ma'idah) through Sura 9 (al-Bara'at)

1-In Arabic language and in Naskhi script:
وقف لله مقبرة؟ رباط سیدنا عثمان بالمدینة
Restricted for God to the tomb of caravansary of our master ‘Uthmān at Madīna.
2- In Naskhi script:
Koran 9:128-129
3- In Kufic script
کمل الجزء الثاني من الربعة/ الکریمة المبارکة/ بحمد الله و حسن عونه/ و صلی الله علی سیدنا/ و مولانا محمد النبي/ المصطفی الکریم و علی/ آله الطیبین الطاهرین/ و سلم تسلیماً کثیراً کثیرا
The second volume of the holy one forth (Rub‘a) complete by the praise of God and his good help, and prayer and a lot peace by God upon our master Moḥammad the prophet the chosen the generous and also upon his family the good the clean
On another page in Naskhi script:
وقف لله تعالی مقبرة؟ رباط سیدنا عثمان رضي الله عنه بطیبة
Restricted for God to the tomb caravansary of our master ‘Uthmān May God be pleased with him at Ṭayyiba.

Ribat Sayyidna ‘Uthman, Medina, Saudi Arabia; Sotheby's, London, 12 October, 2000, no. 39; [ Art market, from 2000]; [ Sam Fogg, London, by 2003–4; sold to MMA]
"12 October 2000." In Arts of the Islamic World. London. London: Sotheby's, London, October 12, 2000. no. 39, pp. 56-57, ill.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 33, pp. 63-64, ill. p. 63 (color).

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