This exquisite illuminated Qur’an manuscript probably comes from the northeast coast of the Malay peninsula, either from Kelantan in present-day Malaysia, or from Patani in southern Thailand.

Why is it so important?

The finest illuminated Qur’ans in the whole of Southeast Asia were produced on the east coast of the Malay peninsula, in the states of Terengganu, Kelantan and Patani. They were evidently prized by other states, for examples have been found in royal collections all over the Malay world, from Palembang to Borneo and the Moluccas. This is the only known example of an illuminated east coast Malay Qur’an held in Europe.

The manuscript

Like most Southeast Asian Islamic manuscripts, this Qur’an is written on high-quality European paper; in this case from Italy, made by the Andrea Galvani papermill. Features which suggest an origin in Patani include black endpapers of Thai manufacture, and the illuminated frames positioned carefully on the page, balanced by a considerable expanse of plain paper. And yet the exactitude of the drawing and colouring, and the repetition of ornamental details, is more typical of Qur’ans from the court of Terengganu, the richest centre for Islamic manuscript illumination in Southeast Asia. Chapter (surah) headings are set in coloured rectangular frames, and each verse is separated by a small yellow roundel.

View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.