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A KUFIC QUR’AN FOLIO
A KUFIC QUR’AN FOLIO

NEAR EAST OR NORTH AFRICA, 9TH CENTURY OR EARLIER

Details
A KUFIC QUR’AN FOLIO
NEAR EAST OR NORTH AFRICA, 9TH CENTURY OR EARLIER
Qur’an II (sura al-baqara), vv.97-108, Arabic manuscript on vellum, with 17ll. of neat sepia kufic script, verse markers in the form of clusters of six gold roundels, khams markers in the form of a gold ha, another marker in an illuminated medallion with a kufic letter, reading marks in red
7 5/8 x 10 5/8in. (19.4 x 27cm.)

Lot Essay

This Qur'an folio appears to come from a Qur'an of which a section is in the Bibliothèque Royale in Rabat (inv. 12610, Maroc. Les trésors du royaume, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1999, no. 139, p.101). There the Qur'an is attributed to the Caliph 'Uthman bin 'Affan on the basis of a comparable example also attributed to him in the Topkapi (The 1400th Anniversary of the Qur'an, exhibition catalogue, Turkey, 2010, cat.16, pp. 168-69). The Topkapi Qur'an was brought into the museum from the library of Sultan Mahmud I (r. 1730-54 AD) which had been located in the Hagia Sophia in 1912. On the face of the manuscript's last page is the inscription "Caliph 'Uthman bin 'Affan wrote in the 30th year", taken to mean that it was written by a scribe of the Caliph 'Uthman in the first half of the 1st century AH. Dr. Tayyar Altikulac revisited the Topkapi codex manuscript in 2006 and wrote that even if it had not belonged to 'Uthman it must have been copied from one that did (op.cit., p.17).

The scribe of this elegant Qur'an folio plays with the kufic, accentuating the horizontal letters in order to conform to the format of his text block. Red dots are used as vowel markers, a use that was abandoned after the 11th century, when dashes took over the role, and dots became diacritical marks.

For other folios from this Qur'an see Christie's South Kensington, 25 April 2002, lot 365, Christie's King street, 15 October 2002, lot 12; 7 April 2011, lot 1 and lot 2; 6 October 2011, lot 13 and lot 14; and Christie's South Kensington 23 April 2012, lot 126
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