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Bifolium from the "Nurse's Qur'an" (Mushaf al-Hadina)

Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
ca. A.H. 410/ A.D. 1019–20
Tunisia, probably Qairawan
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on parchment
H. 17 1/2 in. (44.5 cm) W. 23 5/8 in. (60 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, James and Diane Burke Gift, in honor of Dr. Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, 2007
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 450
This double-page from a Qur'an comes down to us with the fascinating information that the nursemaid to one of the Zirid rulers of North Africa commissioned it for donation to the Great Mosque of Qairawan. It is written in a form of the 'new style kufic' script that was unique to North Africa, and it was copied on parchment, which remained in use in this region long after paper was commonly used for Qur'ans from Egypt, Iraq or Iran.
Inscription: Although the text is indeed from sura 6, al-An`am, "The Kine", verses 40-41 (in part), and 48-49 (in part), the arrangement is puzzling, on account of the folia being detached from their original sheaves and binding. On the first page, and so in the first photograph with the illumination, that is, the first picture on the left, and running on to the second page and so into the second photograph, but now on the right, one certainly reads, from 6:41-42 :

... aghyara Llahi tad`una in kuntum s?adiqina * bal iyyahu tad`una / fa-yakshifu ma tad`una ilayhi in sha'a wa tansuna ma tashrikuna.

"... upon other than God would you call, were you sincere? * Nay! Unto Him would you call, and He would unveil that for which you call upon Him, and you would forget those (gods) you associate (with Him)."

Then, strangely reversed, on the left page of the second photograph, but going on to the right page of the first photograph, one can read, from 6:48-49 :

... wa mundhirina fa-man amana w-as?lah?a fa-la khawf-un `alayhim wa la / hum yah?zinuna wa-lladhina kadhabu bi-ayatina yamassuhum al-`idhabu ...

"... as warners : and whoso believes and does right, then no fear unto them, nor / shall they grieve *, and those who regard Our signs as lies, shall touch them the chastisement ..."

In Arabic language and in Kufic script:
Left 6:48
Right 6:41

Fatima al-Hadina, Tunisia (until about 1019–20); Great Mosque of Qairawan, Tunisia(from about 1019–20); [ Charif Fine Arts, Dubai, sold to Fogg]; [ Sam Fogg, London, by 2006–7; sold to MMA]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 126, ill. (color).

Fraser, Marcus, and Will Kwiatkowski. "July 14–August 31, 2006." In Ink and Gold: Islamic Calligraphy. London, 2006. no. 15, pp. 58-61, ill.

"Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2007–2008." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 66: 2 (Fall 2008). p. 12 (color), 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. 31, pp. 60-61, ill. p. 60 (color).

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