This is part nine of an Egyptian Qur’an in thirty volumes, written in rayhani script. It was copied in the 14th century and donated by a deed of waqf (religious endowment) to a mosque in Cairo by the Mamluk Sultan Faraj ibn Barquq (r. 1399–1412).

What was the Mamluk Sultanate?

The Mamluk Sultanate was the greatest Islamic empire of the middle ages. In Arabic, mamluk means ‘owned’, and was used to describe non-Muslim slaves brought to Egypt to serve as soldiers in struggles between Islamic rulers, in part to avoid the religious prohibition of Muslim fighting Muslim. Many Mamluks converted to Islam and, slaves no longer, were able to attain high positions. Eventually Mamluks took power in Egypt. After defeating the Mongol armies in 1260, they annexed strongholds across the eastern Mediterranean and took control of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

What is distinctive about this Qur’an?

The first opening of this Qur’an manuscript contains all that remains of the double carpet pages and first page of text. The leaf that was originally between them has been lost. As in most Mamluk Qur’ans, the frame of the first text page is divided into three sections, the middle section containing the text within a flowing, cloud-like motif against a background of scrolls. The general effect of the carpet page design is that of a rich tapestry, based on a 10-angled, star-shaped medallion with gold and white outlines extending to form a trellis of overlapping polygons, which alternate in gold and blue.

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