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A KUFIC QUR'AN FOLIO
A KUFIC QUR'AN FOLIO

NORTH AFRICA OR NEAR EAST, 9TH/10TH CENTURY

Details
A KUFIC QUR'AN FOLIO
NORTH AFRICA OR NEAR EAST, 9TH/10TH CENTURY
Arabic manuscript on vellum, each side with 14ll. of elegant elongated black kufic script, verse marked as clusters of three gold roundels outlined in black, khams markers as gold ha, another marker as an illuminated lobed roundel, a fine marginal sajda marker in gold kufic script within an cartouche formed by strap works and foliage
Text area 6 x 9 1/8in. (15.3 x 23.3cm.); folio 9 ¾ x 12 ¾in. (23.8 x 32.2cm.)

Lot Essay

Folios from this elegant Qur'an have been variously attributed to Damascus and more generally to the Eastern Islamic world. However, the presence on folios from the manuscript of abjad markers using the letter sad for the numerical value of 60 instead of the letter sin confirms that this manuscript was produced in the western Islamic world (Marcus Fraser and Will Kwiatkowski, Ink and Gold: Islamic Calligraphy, Berlin, 2006, p.44).

The script style is closest to what François Déroche describes as group 'C.II' which is typified in this case by the smooth curved 'nun' terminal (François Déroche, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, p.153). The form of the final 'nun' with its curved rather than angular form and extended tail can be linked to the later development of the distinctive curved 'nun' shape found in maghribi script.

The elegant use of mashq with the extension of the horizontal letters to great aesthetic effect is beautifully executed throughout this section. This extension of horizontals as well as the returning of the tail of the final 'ya' form is more usually found on leaves grouped by Déroche into group 'D' and associated more with the later 9th and the 10th century rather than firmly in the 9th century as other examples in group 'C'. The frequent use of mashq also indicates the luxurious nature of this manuscript where the letters of the text are free to occupy space regardless of the material cost in terms of gold and vellum. It is likely that a wealthy imperial patron was responsible for commissioning such a luxurious copy of the Qur'an. Being the wealthiest courts of the western Islamic lands at this period, the Fatimids or the Spanish Umayyads are the most likely patrons of this costly manuscript. Further luxurious Qur'an manuscripts such as the famous 'Blue Qur'an' have been attributed at various points to Fatimid Qairouan and to other parts of the Western Islamic world (Fraser and Kwaitkowski, op.cit., Berlin, 2006, p.46).

Two folios from the same Qur'an were sold at Sotheby's, 6 October 2010, lot 1 and Christie's, King Street, 26 April 2012, lot 55; Christie's South Kensington, 11 April 2014, lot 233. See also Christie's King street, 4 October 2012, lot 59 and 10 October 2013, lot 57
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