Name of Object:

Mamluk mashaf

Also known as:

Qur’anic manuscript, No. 16



Holding Museum:

Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif

About Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem

Date of Object:

Before hegira 771 / AD 1369; during the lifetime of the original owner

Museum Inventory Number:

م/ ش/16

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Coloured inks on paper with gilding; the binding, embossed leather.


Length 47 cm, width 32 cm, depth 11 cm

Period / Dynasty:





A mashaf (Qur'anic manuscript) bound in deep-brown leather, made up of two covers (front and back) and a library marker. The ornamentation on this binding is reminiscent of Mamluk mashafs in that the intertwining geometric lines, by intersecting with each other, create fields of different sizes that are filled with embossed details. The margins of both sides of the binding are delineated with different decorative frames. The inside of the binding is also decorated with an embossed medium-sized circle surrounded by semi-circles.
Folio 1b–2a is composed of two pages written in thuluth script in black ink; the lettering branching out into illumination. There are 10 lines to each page; each line is surrounded by strokes that encircle the text. Folio 2b–3a forms the frontispiece of the mashaf. It comprises two pages that contain two identical panels covering most of the spread, and is composed of decoration made up of intersecting geometric lines. The lines encompass between them fields of varying sizes, and each field holds a golden blossom within it. Each blossom varies in size to fit the geometric zone that contains it. The decorative panels finish at the top and bottom with illuminated bands that include text from the Qur'an “al-Waqi'ah” (“The Event, The Inevitable” 56: 76–82). Vegetal decoration surrounds the bands and panels in gold and blue, framing all four sides of the pages.
Folio 3b–4a contains the opening pages of the mashaf. Both pages are identically decorated and are written in illuminated thuluth script composed of five lines. Ornamentation of climbing vegetal motifs, framing broad rectangular areas, is placed above and below the text as well as on the sides. On the remaining pages the text is written in thuluth script in black ink. The pause marks assume the shape of flowers in gold, blue and brown. The name “Majesty” (al-Jalala) and the Basmala (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) are written in gold. The chapter and verse number is white outlined in black; it sits on a wavy gold background on blue, or occasionally red, within a wide gold strip that forms a rectangular frame. The last two pages of the mashaf, which contain the last three chapters of the Qur'an, are written in gold.

View Short Description

A complete Mamluk Qur’an in two covers of leather with intertwining geometric lines. At the beginning are two identical decorative panels with two blossoms. The text is written in thuluth script in black ink. The pause marks assume the shape of flowers in gold, blue and brown. Illumination is used especially in chapter names, a number of verses and where the word ‘Majesty’ appears.

Original Owner:

Qadi (Judge) Taj al-Din Abi Ishaq al-Maliki (d. AH 771 / AD 1369)

How date and origin were established:

The dating of this mashaf is supported by the knowledge of the life-span of the original owner, Qadi (Judge) Taj al-Din Abi Ishaq al-Maliki (d. 771 / 1369).

How Object was obtained:

The mashaf was transferred from al-Haram al-Ibrahimi (the Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron (al-Khalil) where it had been endowed by its owner for recitation, to the Islamic Museum in 1927.

How provenance was established:

Egypt was narrowed down as the place where the mashaf was copied due to the style of the script, the decoration used, as well as the leather binding. The mashaf is fairly typical of Egyptian manuscripts of this sort produced in the same period.

Selected bibliography:

Al-'Asqalani, Ahmad bin 'Ali bin Hajar (d. 852 / 1448), Al-Durar al-Kamina fi al-A'yan al-Mi'a al-Thamina [The Valuable Jewellery of the Personalities of the Eighth Century], Vols. 1 and 6, Hyderabad, 1972.
Salameh, K., Al-Makhtutat al-Qur'aniya fi al-Muthaf al-Islamu fi al-Haram al-Sharif [Qur'anic Manuscripts in the Islamic Museum in al-Haram al-Sharif], Paris, 2003.
Al-Maqrizi, Taqi al-Din, A., (d. 845 / 1442), Al-Suluk li Marifat Duwal al-Muluk [The Right Ways to Know the Lands of the Rulers], Vols. 2 and 3, Cairo, 1970.
al-Shaja'i, Shams al-Din, Al-Malik al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun Salihi wa Awladahu [The Ruler, al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun Salihi and his Sons], Fisbadan, 1978.

Citation of this web page:

Khader Salameh "Mamluk mashaf" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;pa;Mus01;34;en

Prepared by: Khader SalamehKhader Salameh

Khader Salameh has been the Director of the Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Library in Jerusalem for more than two decades. He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History. He received a Certificate of Librarianship in 1986 from the Hebrew University. He obtained his BA degree from Beirut University in 1980. He catalogued the Manuscripts Collections of the Haram al-Sharif, which was published in six parts in several countries. His publications include many articles on different subjects and a recent publication in English and Arabic on the Qur'an manuscripts in the Islamic Museum.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: PA 34


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