Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; leather binding
H. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm), W. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm)
Gift of Elizabeth Riley, 1980 (1980.603)
The text of this Qur'an is written in a very refined naskhi, the type of script most often used for copying Qur'ans and secular Arabic or Turkish texts. The form of the script places the production of this book in Turkey, where a very particular kind of naskhi developed. The thin, slightly slanting script adopted by the Turkish master Shaikh Hamdullah (died 1519), and much copied after him, can be easily differentiated from the Persian style, which tended to be more rounded and upright.
The exquisite calligraphy of this tiny Qur'an is rivaled only by the peerless illumination. The little five-lobed flower heads have a long history in Turkish decorative arts, as do the curving leafy vines. The shape of the central cartouche suggests a Baroque influence, while the pricking of the gold to catch the light is a longstanding Islamic practice. It is the use of soft lavenders, a very dark blue, and orange that betray a late date.