Skip to content

Illustrated Prayer Book (Duʿaname)

Prayer manuals became fairly popular in the 18th century in Ottoman Istanbul. Much like this copy, they include a compilation of prayers, Qur'anic verses, as well as various illustrations. Paintings included Mecca and Medina, as well as the Prophet Muhammad's seals and relics. The seals were meant to be “seen” and “read” and for religious contemplation and protection.

Accession Number:

Lilly Library, Adomeit mss C16


Mustafa al-Üsküdari

Date and location:

18th Century, Probably Istanbul, Ottoman Turkish


Envelope stamped binding with leather tri-stamped (salbekli şemse) front and back cover (stamped area cut out from original leather). Gold paint used to outline stamps, frame, and the small cartouche on the envelope flap.


(Possibly rebound) Green chain-laid paper covering doublures and interior of envelope flap. Blue fly page follows (back and front).

Number of Folios:

112 (not counting front and back fly pages)

Dimensions of Folios:

15 x 10 cm

Dimensions of Written Surface:

10-10.3 x 5.5 cm

Number of paintings:


Dimensions of paintings:

Approximately 10 x 5 cm

Adobe Flash Player and JavaScript are required to view this video feature.


Prayer manuals appear to have been a relatively popular genre in Ottoman book arts. Often compiled from an assortment of qur’anic suras, prayers (duʿas) in Ottoman Turkish and Arabic, and devotional imagery such as hilyes, relics, and paintings of Mecca and Medina, these small sized books were meant to serve as portable religious references and protective devices for the devout.

The Lilly prayer manual’s pink folios are nicely bound and richly illuminated. Opening with a painted sarloh, this small prayer manual commences with Surat al-Incam (The Cattle) on folio 1v, initiating nine consecutive pages of various verses drawn from qur’anic chapters. Gold is used profusely throughout the manuscript, painted on the frames of the pages, verse and sentence dividers, chapter headings, and illustrations. The manuscript includes grids, one of which features the 99 glorious names of God called Asma' al-Husna (beginning on folio 6r). Six illuminated hilyes appear on folios 11v-14r, followed by a variety of devotional paintings and calligraphic designs.

For examples of various illustrated prayer books and prayer miscellanies: Derman, Sabancı Üniversitesi Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi, 58-59 (cat. 361), and 184-185 (cat. 305); Safwat, Golden Pages, 227-230 (cat. 57), 273 and 275 (cat. 69); Schmitz, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Paintings in the Pierpont Morgan Library, figs. 163-165 (cat. M.950); and Schmitz, Islamic Manuscripts in the New York Public Library, figs. 38-42 (cat: ms 9).