Bifolium from the Mashaf al–Hadina, 410 A.H. / 1019–20 a.d.
Probably Qayrawan, Tunisia
Ink, pigment, and gold on parchment; H. 17 1/2 in. (44.5 cm); Gr. W. 23 5/8 in. (60 cm)
Purchase, James and Diane Burke Gift, in honor of Dr. Marilyn Jenkins–Madina, 2007 (2007.191)
This double page once belonged to one section (hizb) of a sixty-part Qur'an manuscript, the history of which is unusually well documented for codices of such antiquity. According to an annotation on one of its other pages, this manuscript was commissioned by the nursemaid (al-hadina) of al-Mu'izz ibn Badis (r. 1016–62), a prince of the Zirid dynasty, which ruled over North Africa between 972 and 1152. It was endowed to the Great Mosque of Qayrawan, in Tunisia, during the month of Ramadan, in 410 A.H. (December 30, 1019–January 28, 1020). A second annotation reveals that the entire manuscript, from its calligraphy to its binding, was produced by 'Ali ibn Ahmad al-Warraq (the Papermaker or the Bookseller).
Qur'an manuscripts of this type were restricted by convention to five lines of script per page. The calligraphy of this double page is executed on parchment in brown ink, with diacritical marks in red, blue, and green. It is a bold, yet fluid, example of the calligraphic style known as "Eastern Kufic," but is distinctive for its varied line thickness and the pronounced contrast between rounded forms, slanted elements, and vertical lines.