Name of Object:



Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Date of Object:

Hegira 9th / 15th century (c. AH 874 / AD 1470)

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Calligrapher: Asadullah Kirmani.

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Delicate finished (aharlı) paper, written using ink, watercolour, gilding; tooled leather (binding).


Height 41 cm, width 29 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Istanbul, Turkey.


Written on delicate finished (aharlı) paper with black ink in naskhi script. The opening pages of the Qur'an feature a double-page illumination with chapter headings in decorated frames, and rose motifs in the margins to mark the verses. The floral compositions in the illumination are noteworthy for how they recall AH 9th / AD 15th century Turcoman and Timurid designs.

The outside of the leather binding is black, while its interior is brown and has cut-out decoration pasted on it. The symmetrical designs on the exterior and interior covers consist of oval medallions with palmette pendants and corner-pieces with half-pendants. The surface of the medallion is decorated with floral compositions of flowers, leaves and spiralling tendrils in a Chinese-inspired style. The tooled leather binding shows the influence of Mamluk art.

The period of Sultan Mehmed II ('The Conqueror', r. AH 848–50 and 855–86 / AD 1444–6 and 1451–81) was one of expansive conquest for the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, 'The Conqueror' had many manuscripts written and illustrated for his Treasury in the atelier he founded at the Topkapı Palace. The sultan, who was a great patron of the arts, gathered together many artists at the palace atelier in Istanbul that he had brought back from the lands he conquered. This is why the binding of this Qur'an shows the influence of Mamluk art, the illumination reflects Turcoman and Timurid art, and the calligraphy was written by a scribe from Kirman (). Although the manuscript has no colophon, its striking quality implies that it was made for Sultan Mehmed II's Treasury.

View Short Description

Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror established a palace atelier for the naqqash (painters) in the Topkapı Palace and pioneered the development of book arts. This Qur'an of the late AH 9th / AD 15th century is an important work displaying the book arts of the Conqueror's period.

Original Owner:

The original owner of this Qur’an is unknown, although it may have been made for the Treasury of Sultan Mehmed II (‘the Conqueror’). The work bears the donation (waqf) seals of Sultan Mahmud I and his Inspector of Pious Foundations, Derviş Mustafa. Although we cannot tell from these seals to which building this Qur’an belonged, it is inferred that it was donated to be read at a mosque or a tomb

How date and origin were established:

Although there is no colophon, the style of the script, binding and illumination all reflect the style of the 9th / 15th century and suggest a date in that period.

How Object was obtained:

Transferred to the Museum from the Library of Sultan Mahmud I at Ayasofya, Istanbul, in 1914.

How provenance was established:

The quality of the calligraphy, binding and illumination suggest that the work may have been produced in the palace atelier in Istanbul. Sultan Mehmed II ('the Conqueror') was an important patron of the arts, he employed artists in the palace atelier from all over the various lands he conquered, and they produced many manuscripts for the library there.

Selected bibliography:

Artan, T., Denny, W. B., and çağman, F., Palace of Gold and Light: Treasures from the Topkapı, Istanbul, Washington D.C., 2000, cat. no. A39.

Ölçer, N. et al, In Pursuit of Excellence: The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul, 1993, p.42, plates 16A–C; 45–7.

Raby, J. and Tanındı, Z., Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, London, 1993, pp.50–51.

Roxburgh, D. J. (ed), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600, London, 2005, pp.290–91; p.439, cat. no. 247.

Citation of this web page:

Sevgi Kutluay "Qur’an" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;tr;Mus01;37;en

Prepared by: Sevgi KutluaySevgi Kutluay

Sevgi Kutluay is the Head of the Calligraphy and Manuscripts Section at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She graduated from the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Hacettepe University, Ankara, in 1985 with the thesis “The Complexes of Kayseri Huand Hatun and Afşin Eshab-ı Kehf and the Development of Complexes in the Anatolian Seljuq Period”. She completed her Master's at the same department with a thesis entitled “Divriği Great Mosque and Its Decorative Programme” in 1989. She started working at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 1988 and has worked as an expert at various museums and departments of the ministry. She quit her Ph.D. entitled “The Diwan of Hüseyin Baykara and the 15th Century Manuscripts of Herat”. She participated in restoration projects on the wall paintings of Göreme Dark Church and Sumela Monastery in Trabzon and in the display designs of various museums.

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 66


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Manuscripts


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)