This elegant, detailed Qur’an is one of the earliest dated examples of naskhi script.
What is special this script?
This Qur’an is written on paper and penned in the cursive, proportional script known as naskhi. The script was first developed in the 10th century by the Abbasid vizier and calligrapher Ibn Muqlah (886–940), and later perfected by Ibn al-Bawwab (d. 1022), the master calligrapher who continued his tradition. Naskhi became one of the most popular styles for transcribing Arabic manuscripts, being favoured for its legibility. This Qur’an is one of the earliest dated examples in this style of script.
What does the illumination show?
The illumination in this Qur’an is both decorative and functional. Gold roundels within the text mark the end of each verse. Small palmettes, which are motifs of radiating petals, can be seen in the margins. They are in the form of the Arabic letter ha’, roughly in a droplet shape, and indicate the end of a fifth verse. Readers would be able to identify this as in the Arabic alphanumeric system (where each letter has a numerical value) the Arabic ha’ has the value of five. The overlapping roundels mark the end of a tenth verse.
- Article by:
- Colin F Baker
- Illuminated texts, Islam
Arabic calligraphy is a form of reverence for the Qur’an. Dr Colin Baker outlines the development of qur’anic calligraphy, from some of the earliest existing Qur’ans. He also explores geographic variations in scripts alongside developments in Arabic grammar, changing mediums and Qur’an formats.