Section of a Qur'an Manuscript

Calligrapher: Copied by `Umar Aqta'

Object Name: Section from a non-illustrated manuscript

Date: late 14th–early 15th century

Geography: Attributed to present-day Uzbekistan, probably Samarqand

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Dimensions: H. 17 5/16 in. (44 cm)
W. 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Anonymous Gift, 1972

Accession Number: 1972.279


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.