Calligraphy attributed to cUmar Aqtac
Central Asia (probably Samarqand)
Ink, colors, and gold on paper; H. 17 5/16 in. (44 cm), W. 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm)
Anonymous Gift, 1972 (1972.279)
This copy of the Qur'an, calligraphed in an elegant muhaqqaq style, was probably the largest ever produced. The two lines of script, each over a meter long, are from sura LX:2122 ("of the Believer"). Originally, each page included seven lines of script. A double-page would fit perfectly into the gigantic Qur'an stand in stone erected for the mosque of Bibi Khanum in Samarqand, commissioned by Ulugh Beg (13941449), the grandson of Timur, after Timur's death. Its calligrapher was probably the renowned cUmar Aqtac: some sources tell us that he had tried to astonish Timur by writing a Quran so small that it could fit under a signet ring, but, when the sultan was unmoved, cUmar wrote a Quran so large that it had to be brought to Timur on a cart!