Name of Object:

Prayer book


Stockholm, Sweden

Holding Museum:

Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet)

About Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet), Stockholm

Date of Object:

Hegira 12th century / AD 18th century

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Ibrahim Babirbarzadeh.

Museum Inventory Number:

MMI 1996:001

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Leather, paper, ink, gold; calligraphy, illuminated, illustrated.


Height 14.7 cm, width 9.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:





This small book is a compilation of various religious texts illustrating popular beliefs and customs. Its content is based mainly on the Qur'an to which the first part of the manuscript is dedicated. The text starts with the fatiha, the first sura, and ends with the last sura CXIV, but it is not the complete Qur'an. The text was written in a muhaqqaq style and in naskhi script possibly by two different calligraphers. One of them was Ibrahim Babirbarzadeh, whose signature appears in a later part of the manuscript. On each page the text is framed by a broad gold stripe and lines of black and bright bluish-red ink. The sura headings are illuminated and the verses are marked by golden rosettes. The first part of the manuscript is followed by a selection of suras and Qur'anic verses. According to popular belief, the words of the Qur'an possess supernatural powers because of their divine origin, which help in cases of misfortune. The margins of these pages are also covered with texts. These margin notes might provide explanation of the specific use of the quotations, for example, against disease or poverty. The 99 beautiful names of Allah and the names of the Prophet, which are written on the next pages of the manuscript, are also considered to afford special protection. A common element of books of this kind is prayers of blessing whose recitation was a deserving act of believers. The most impressive part of the manuscript is a series of painted pages showing the names of Allah and Muhammad in golden script against a blue background, the footprint and the sandal of the Prophet, views of Mecca and Medina and powerful quotations, letters and names of God arranged in circles and squares as protection against the evil eye.
The binding of the book is of dark brownish-red leather ornamented with a central golden rectangle and filled with a rhomb pattern. The inside of the binding is covered with a polished yellow paper showing a design of large leaves.

View Short Description

Small book with a compilation of various religious texts popularly used for protection. In addition to the mostly Qur’anic quotations it contains prayers of blessing. Most impressive are its painted pages showing the footprint and the sandal of the Prophet or the views of Mecca and Medina.

How date and origin were established:

From stylistic aspects of the illuminations. Their floral elements, for example, are close to those of Ottoman Qur'ans of the 12th / 18th century.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased in auction at François de Ricqlès, Paris, 22 March 1996, lot no 33.

How provenance was established:

From stylistic aspects of the illuminations. Their floral elements, for example, are close to those of Ottoman Qur'ans of the 12th / 18th century.

Selected bibliography:

Islamische Kunst aus Privaten Sammlungen in Deutschland, Exhibition catalogue, Munich, 2000, pp.14–5.
Turkish Miniature Painting and Manuscripts from the Collection of Edwin Binney 3rd, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, cat. no. 40.

Citation of this web page:

Friederike Voigt "Prayer book" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;se;Mus01;9;en

Prepared by: Friederike VoigtFriederike Voigt

Friederike Voigt has an MA in Iranian studies, history of art and social science and is currently working on her doctoral thesis on wall tiles in architectural decoration of Qajar Iran. Since 2004 she has been a project-related curator at the Museum for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm for Museum With No Frontiers. She studied at Humboldt University in Berlin, at the University of Tehran and archaeology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. She taught Persian language at several universities in Germany. She was an assistant curator at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Cultures at the Museum of Ethnology, State Museums of Berlin. Her main fields of interest are the material culture of Iran, especially of the Qajar period, and contemporary Iranian art.

Copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SE 10


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Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail

EARLY OTTOMAN ART - Legacy of the Emirates


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