On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 450

This Qur’an comprises a compilation of loose folios that are held together within an embossed decorative leather wrap cover. This construction is characteristic of West African bookmaking traditions. The text is written in the barnavi script (particular script from Borno), common in Nigeria and Chad and distinguished by bold application, round letters and short lettershafts. Additional characteristics of this Qur’an are the decorative inserted tables that serve to divide chapters and sections. These are composed as geometric patterns with simple repeat motifs—circles, cross, double-T and others, which are rendered as colorful grids in red, brown and sparkling yellow. In addition to reflecting the artistic vibrancy of West Africa, these patterns bear talismanic and other meanings that surpass the devotional function of such manuscripts.

Qur'an, Ink and opaque watercolor on paper; embossed leather cover

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