Name of Object:

Qur’an cabinet


Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Date of Object:

Hegira 911 / AD 1505

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Ahmad bin Hasan Qalib-i Fani.

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Walnut, ebony, ivory, bone, mosaic-inlay technique.


Height 82 cm, width 56 cm

Period / Dynasty:



The body of the cabinet is shaped like a six-sided prism sitting on top of arched feet. A pyramidal cover with 12 sides rises from a 12-cornered drum.

The walnut boards of the cabinet are decorated with inlaid ivory. In some places ebony is used. On the cover, vertical ivory plaques and medallions with pendants have been arranged from the top downwards. The plaques are carved with intricate designs of palmette leaves, Chinese-inspired floral motifs, and spiralling tendrils. On the base of the dome, on top of the drum, carved ivory plaques have been arranged horizontally. These bear Qur'anic verses (2: 255 and 59: 22–4) in thuluth script carved in relief. On the cover itself, as well as its sides, are plaques with more Qur'anic verses 48: 28–9; 3: 18–9; 27: 30).

On the sides of the body, bands of ivory delineate horizontal rectangular panels. The interiors of the corners of these panels have corner pieces of ivory featuring arabesques and palmettes. In the centres of the panels are carved ivory plaques with relief inscriptions in thuluth script which state in Turkish that the cabinet was made in the name of Sultan Bayezid II (r. AH 886–918 / AD 1481–1512) and gives the year hegira 911 / 1505. An ivory plaque beneath the last line of this inscription contains the signature of the maker of the cabinet, again carved in relief: 'Work of Ahmad bin Hasan Qalib-i Fani'.

The arches at the base of the cabinet are decorated with mosaic designs of inlaid ivory coloured green. The three-section finial at the top of the cover is made of ebony and ivory. The interior of the cabinet has three partitions for storing the Qur'an and juz (one-thirtieth) sections thereof.

View Short Description

This wooden Qur'an cabinet inlaid with ivory was made for Sultan Bayezid II by master Ahmed bin Hasan in AH 911 / AD 1505. The rendering of the surfaces and balanced use of materials reflect the stylistic characteristics of Ottoman woodwork of the first half of the 10th / 16th century.

Original Owner:

Sultan Bayezid II (r. AH 886–918 / AD 1481–1512)

How date and origin were established:

According to the inscription on the object, it was made in 911 / 1505.

How Object was obtained:

The object was transferred from the tomb of Sultan Selim II (974-82/ 1566-74) in the Ayasofya Mosque, Istanbul, to the Museum in 1926.

Selected bibliography:

Anadolu Medeniyetleri III, Selçuklu-Osmanlı, Istanbul, 1983, No. 19.

çığ, K., “İmzalı Eski çekmece,Cüz ve Hilye-i Saadet Mahfazaları ve Sanatkarları”, Milletlerarası Birinci Türk Sanatları Kongresi, Ankara 1962, pp.101–19.

Levenson, J. A., Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, Washington D.C., 1991, p.194.

Ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.252–3.

Rogers, J. M., and Ward, R. M., Suleiman the Magnificent, London, 1990.

Citation of this web page:

Gönül Tekeli "Qur’an cabinet" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;tr;Mus01;21;en

Prepared by: Gönül Tekeli
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.
, İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu

İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.

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: TR 36


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