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Qur’an (Juz’ 9 of 30)

This luxury manuscript was most likely produced in the bookshop (kitabkhane) of the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp I (r. 1524-76). It is one volume of a 30-part Qur’an. Separating a Qur’an into volumes is a more costly endeavor as more bindings become necessary. Its large size also adds to its cost and splendor.

Accession Number:

Lilly Library, Allen mss 10

Date and Location:

16th century, probably 1571, Safavid Iran

Binding:

Stamped dark brown leather brushed with gold. Book consists of 2 bifolio quire gatherings of 4 folios each (plus one extra folio at the end), sewn together with a beige-brown string.

Doublure:

Brown morocco with filigree multi-color medallions and cornerpieces.

Number of Folios:

17 (not counting front and back fly pages)

Dimensions of Folios:

35.6 x 23.7 cm

Dimensions of Written Surface:

20.2 x 13.1 cm

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Description:

This manuscript constitutes the 9th part (juz’) of a 30-part Qur’an produced in the Safavid. This juz’ includes chapters 7:88-206 and 8:1-40. The manuscript includes a gold embossed leather binding and opens with a sarloh painted primarily with gold and lapis. The text is written in thulth and naskh scripts. The thulth script, executed in gold and larger than the naskh script, is used for the top, middle, and bottom lines on each page. Corrections and various signs for stopping (ʿalamat al-waqf) are marked in red throughout the text.

Although most Qur’ans produced in the 16th century in Iran were single volume works, this juz’ from a 30-part Qur’an still shares some stylistic trends with it contemporaries. The interchangeable use of thulth and naskh, for instance, is typical of Qur’ans of this period in Iran.

A strikingly similar example to this manuscript can be found in the Khalili Collection. The Khalili Qur’an is part 21 of a 30-part Qur’an, making it quite possible that these two parts (juz’ 9 and 21) belong to the same Qur’an. The Khalili Qur’an and Lilly Qur’ans both have identical bindings, folio dimensions, text dimensions, and lines of script. These details suggest strongly that they are from the same 30-part Qur’an. Although the Lilly Qur’an does not have a colophon, the Khalili Qur’an does. The colophon of juz’ 21 gives the completion date of that particular juz’ as 979/1571, and the calligrapher as ʿAli ibn Muhammad ibn Muqaddam. This luxury 30-part Qur’an thus could have been made for the Safavid Shah Tahmasp I (r. 1524-76) in Qazvin (capital from 1555 to 1591).

Another volume from this series appears to be located in the Kuwait National Museum, which has in its possession juz’ 14. Its binding is published in Jenkins, The Al-Sabah Collection (134). The binding is identical to the two other volumes, all bearing the same Hadith describing the Qur’an’s merits.

For similar bindings see: James, After Timur, 206-8 (cat. 49); James, Qur’ans and Bindings from the Chester Beatty Library, 122 (cat. 99); Lings and Safadi, The Qur’an, 91-3 (cats. 163 and 164); Canby, The Golden Age of Persian Art, 59 (cat. 44); Thompson and Canby, Hunt for Paradise, 164 (cat. 6.8); and Özen, Türk Cilt Sanatı, 73 (images 33-4).

For similar page layouts see: James, After Timur, 34 and 36-7 (cat. 7).