Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira mid-7th century / AD mid-13th century
The work of ‘Abd al-Wahid ibn Sulayman (as stated on the interlocking ‘teeth’ of the Qur’an stand).
Walnut wood, carved.
Height 107 cm, width 50 cm
Seljuqs of Rum (Anatolian Seljuq)
The decoration on this Qur’an stand, which is made from a single piece of wood, has been carved out from the wood, and consists of a combination of calligraphy and abstract floral motifs executed to the highest standard. The Arabic inscription, ‘the power lies in God’, is written in monumental knotted kufic script, within a square section in the upper half of the lectern, on a spiralling tendril, which provides a vivid yet unobtrusive backdrop that does not interfere with or cut in between the letters. The ‘Throne verse’ of the Qur’an – Sura 2 verse 255 – is to be found, framed and written in thuluth script, on the back. (‘God! There is no god but Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is what is in heaven and what is on earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before and behind men. They can grasp only that part of His knowledge which He wills. His throne is as vast as heaven and earth, and the preservation of both does not weary him. He is the Exalted, the Immense One.’) A few tendrils fill in the small spaces left empty within the inscription.
The foot of the Qur’an stand is covered in sculpted, carved tendrils consisting of smooth or feathered bifid and lanceolate leaves. Leaves and spiralling tendril arabesques overlap each other in various ways and over several layers, crowned by a trefoil.
The folding lecterns, most of which were made of wood, served throughout the Islamic world as supports for large Qur’an books, used during recitations. Secondary literature maintains that the form of the Qur’an stand had been derived from folding chairs such as were already used in ancient Egypt. They were among the most valuable furnishings of every mosque, and were decorated using an abundance of techniques. The woodcarver of this lectern is probably the same as the artist who carved the wooden cenotaph of the poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi (AD 1207–73), a founder of Sufism, which can be found in the Mevlana Tekke in Konya.
Wooden folding stands were used in the Islamic world to hold heavy Qur’ans or other books to read while sitting on the floor. This remarkable example with fine arabesques and superb inscriptions was probably made in Konya, Turkey, to be given to a mosque by a Rum Seljuq sultan.
The artist named in the inscription, ‘Abd al-Wahid ibn Sulayman, is probably the same artist whose wooden cenotaph exists in the Mevlana Tekke in Konya, which can be dated to be from the 13th century. If this assumption is correct, and both names denote the same person, then the Qur’an stand can also be dated to the mid-13th century. There is also a strong possibility for this date on stylistic grounds.
As an anonymous gift in 1907.
Its provenance from Konya has not been guaranteed; however, a series of stylistically similar Qur’an stands makes its provenance from Konya very likely. The inscription of the carpenter’s name is further evidence of the existence of a tradition in the making of Qur’an stands.
Enderlein, V., Islamisches Museum, Rostock, 1983, pp.61–2, ill. 44.
Haase, C. P., “Koran und Koranpult”, in Transformationen, Der Koranständer, (ed. J. W. Frembgen and E. Rößler), Munich, 1997, pp.9–12.
Kühnel, E., Islamische Schriftkunst, Berlin 1942, 3rd edition, Graz, 1986, p.33, ill. 33.
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Catalogue, Mainz, 2001, pp.60–1.
Annette Hagedorn "Qur’an stand" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;22;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 28
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Echoes of Paradise: the Garden and Flora in Islamic Art | Flora and Arabesques: Visions of Eternity and Divine Unity The Ottomans | Turkish-Islamic Art in Pre-Ottoman Anatolia Arabic Calligraphy | The Holy Qur’an
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