Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry Ritual Prayer Recitation Calligraphy Personal Piety Digital Books


Koran Board

Qur’an Board

West Sudan, 19th century

From an early age, Muslims are encouraged to memorize the Qur’an. By adulthood, many can recite long passages, if not the entire text. In Qur’anic schools across northern Africa, students commit verses of the Qur’an to memory by writing them on Qur’an boards, or lawh. Faint traces of words are still visible on this example. Once a verse was memorized, the board was washed off with water, and the student could start afresh. The water was treated with great reverence, for it was believed to contain the words of God and at times was used to ward off illnesses.

Wood and ink
61.347, museum purchase, 2007