Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Folio from a Qur'an Manuscript

Object Name:
Folio from a non-illustrated manuscript
Date:
ca. 1180
Geography:
Eastern Iran or present-day Afghanistan
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
11.75 in. high 8.75 in. wide (29.8 cm high 22.2 cm wide)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Horace Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.160.23
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 451
Written in Eastern or new style kufic script , line two of this folio includes two long, vertical letters (alif and lam), forming a distinctive pointed oval-shaped pattern. The elaborate treatment of the background, entirely filled with vegetal scrolls terminating in large blossoms so that the script seems to stand out against the decorative background. The script and illumination are related to a Qur'an in the Topkapi Saray Museum, dated 573/1177–78, epigraphic inscriptions on architecture and luster ceramics of this period, suggesting a unity of style in Seljuk art of eleventh and twelfth century Iran and Iraq.
Some of the new scripts developed from the tenth to the twelfth century in the Near East were employed primarily for religious texts.

Certain features of a variant called the “new script” or "broken cursive" have been exaggerated in this page which contains Qur’an 5:20–21 from a widely dispersed Qur’an. Among these are the height of its vertical letters and a visual emphasis on the word Allah. Each page contains only four lines of text because of the large scale of its writing; the manuscript is also distinctive in that the spaces between its letters are embellished with a background of foliate scrolls. B. Saint Laurent, who has collated the surviving fragments of this copy, estimated that when complete it would have contained 2,250 folios. Aside from its background decoration, the manuscript resembles those in a group produced in eastern Iran or Afghanistan between the late eleventh and late twelfth centuries, including one dated to 1092, formerly in the collection of Aqa Mahdi Kashani, and another in the Topkapı Palace Library, Istanbul, copied in 1177 by a scribe of Afghan origin. These two examples help to establish the approximate date and place of production for the page and for the other leaves from this volume.

Priscilla Soucek (author) in [Ekhtiar et al. 2011]
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, New York (until 1929; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Calligraphy West of China," March 15, 1972–May 7, 1972.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balcony Calligraphy Exhibition," June 1, 2009–October 26, 2009.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 72, ill. fig. 41 (b/w).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 32-33, ill. fig. 20 (color).

Blair, Sheila S. Islamic Calligraphy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Library, 2006. pp. 198-199, ill. fig. 6.3 (color).

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. 53, pp. 5, 90-91, ill. p. 91 (color).



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