Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

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W.568: Qur’an

This manuscript dates to the 12th century AH / 18th CE and is a fragment of the Qur'an covering chapters 19 (Surat Mariam) through 23 (Surat al-mu'minun). It is written on Italian paper in a large Maghribi script, with vocalization in red, green, and yellow ink.







Folio 114b

This page is inscribed with the final verses of chapter 23 (Sūrat al-mu’minūn), which translates as ‘the Believers’. The text is written in Maghribi script. ‘Maghribi’ is a term used to describe a variety of scripts used in the western Islamic lands (southern Spain and North Africa) as well as sub-Saharan (West) Africa. Maghribi script is defined by curved and sweeping letter forms.

Folio 13b

The text page has an illuminated medallion in gold, blue, and red located in the right margin. This decorative form indicates the place where the believer performs ritual prostration (or bowing down).

Folio 1b

This page has a beautifully illuminated headpiece inscribed with the chapter heading Sūrat Maryam in gold in the central medallion. The script used for this chapter heading is described as a decorative New Abbasid style ('broken cursive'). The New Abbasid style has a very angular character and a vertical thrust to the letters. At the time this manuscript was produced, the New Abbasid style with its deliberately complex forms was generally relegated to chapter headings.