Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira Ramadan 713 / AD December 1313
Calligrapher: Shadi bin Muhammad bin Shadi bin Dawud bin Isa bin Abu Bakr bin Ayyub; illuminators: Aydoğdu bin Abdullah al-Badri and Ali bin Muhammad al-Rassam.
finished (aharlı) paper, ink, gilding, leather (binding).
Height 35 cm, width 26.5 cm
This Qur’an is written in Mamluk naskhi script on sheets of finished (aharli) paper with gilding outlined in black. The pages do not have any marginal lines. The leather binding has a flap. The Qur’an opens with an illuminated double-page spread plate, laid out in geometric fashion, in the centre of which is an eight-pointed star containing a Qur’anic verse (sura 41, verse 42). All the polygons formed by the geometric decoration are filled with arabesque motifs. The background of the border framing the geometric decoration is painted in black. The border is filled with arabesques and palmettes containing rosebud-like motifs in fading shades of pink, green and blue. This style of painting is known in Mamluk illumination as the 'Sandal style'.
The beginning of each chapter (sura) is written in kufic calligraphy, while the ends of verses are separated with interlacing rosettes in gold and blue. Every five and ten verses there appear illuminated medallions containing kufic script on the margin of the page. This Qur'an was prepared for the Treasury of the Mamluk Sultan Nasir al-Din Muhammad, who ruled three times AH 692–4, 698–708, 709–42 / AD 1293–4, 1299–1309, 1310–41).
The Qur'an was transcribed by the calligrapher Shadi bin Muhammad bin Shadi bin Dawud bin Isa bin Abu Bakr bin Ayyub, a descendent of Saladin (Salah al-Din), founder of the Ayyubid state, in Ramadan 713 / December 1313. The illumination was done by Aydoğdu bin Abdullah al-Badri and Ali bin Muhammad al-Rassam.
This Qur’an is a work of art of the highest quality, produced for presentation to the sultan at a time when the most exquisite and refined works were being produced in all branches of art, a period which may even be called the Renaissance of Islamic art in Egypt.
The names of its calligrapher, its illuminator and the person it was presented to make up three important features that stress the artistic value of a Qur’an. A masterpiece of Mamluk book arts, this Qur’an was written in gold with an illumination establishing a school and it bears the name of the sultan it was presented to.
The Mamluk Sultan Nasir al-Din Muhammad, (he ascended the throne three times: AH 692–4, 698–708, 709–42 / AD 1293–4, 1299–1309, 1310–41)
The colophon gives the date as Ramadan 713 / December 1313.
The work was transferred to the Museum in 1914 from the tomb of Sultan Selim II (974–82 / 1566–74) in the Ayasofya Mosque, Istanbul.
The work bears the hallmarks of the Mamluk style and was produced by court masters of the Mamluk palace in Cairo; therefore, it is highly likely that it was produced in Cairo.
Aksoy, Ş., “Der Prachtkoran”, Die Koranbestände des Museums für Türkische Kunst in Istanbul, Berlin, 1999, pp.111–23.
James, D., “Some Observation on the Calligrapher and Illuminators of the Koran of Rukn al-Din Baybars al-Jashnagir”, Muqarnas, 3, 1984, pp.147–57.
James, D., Qur'ans of the Mamluks, London, 1988, pp.58–63.
Ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.176–9.
Şule Aksoy "Qur’an" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;22;en
Prepared by: Şule AksoyŞule Aksoy
Şule Aksoy is Vice Director of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She was born in Istanbul in 1947. She graduated from the Department of History and Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University in 1970. She has been working at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul since 1967, first as an expert, then as the Head of the Manuscripts Department until 2003, when she became Vice Director. She has participated in numerous projects and exhibitions organised by the museum and is the author of various publications.
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 Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 39
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Mamluks | The Wider World: Diplomatic Contacts and International Trade Geometric Decoration | Geometric Decoration and the Art of the Book
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