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Miniature Qur’an

Accession Number: Lilly Library, Adomeit Miniature Islamic Manuscripts C3

Date and Location: 19th century, Iran

Container: The manuscript is housed in an octagonal metal case with a hinged lid. The case has been covered with green velvet, which has been worn threadbare along each of the container’s eight sides due to repeated handling.

Dimensions of container: 4.7 x 4.8 x 3.0 cm

Binding: The covers of the book are constructed from layers of cloth glued together and overlaid with maroon paper. Both covers are decorated with a simple octagonal design drawn in gold paint and subsequently glazed. The binding is hand-sewn using two visible stitches.

Number of folios: approximately 229

Dimensions of of folios: 3.2 x 3.3 cm

Dimensions of written surface: 2.4 x 2.4 cm

Number of folios: approximately 229

Average number of lines of text per folio: 17

Color of ink: Black

This diminutive volume is contained in a well-worn green velvet case similar to that used for a piece of jewelry or other precious object.


This octagonal miniature Qur’an comprises folios made of polished beige rag paper. The qur’anic suras are written in minute naskh script (the alif measures 1-2 mm). Sura headings are written in black ink against gold-painted horizontal registers. The ruled borders framing the text, verse markers, doublures, and edges of the folios are also embellished with gold paint, giving the volume an appearance of luxury. Although the Union List of Arabic Manuscripts states that the manuscript lacks Surat al-Fatiha (The Opening), faint traces of script are visible within the octagonal panel at the center of the illumination on folio 1r. This script very likely constituted the second half of this sura. It is probable that the initial portion of the sura was written directly onto the upper doublure or else onto a folio attached therein. The 114th and final sura of the Qur’an, al-Nas (The People), appears on folio 229r, which has been pasted directly to the back doublure. Surat al-Nas forms a natural pair with the preceding Surat al-Falaq (The Daybreak). Together these two suras comprise the so-called “suras of refuge” (al-muʿawwadhitayn) which may be recited as consecutive short prayers. The manuscript is very tightly bound, yet the volume opens easily to both al-Fatiha and al-Nas, perhaps reflective of a pattern of use determined by their perceived apotropaic qualities.

This manuscript is described in the Union List of Arabic Manuscripts, cat. no. 14; and Adomeit Personal Inventory Sheets, cat. no. 16.