Name of Object:

Qur’an binding


Rabat, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Royal Library

 About Royal Library, Rabat.

Date of Object:

Binding: Hegira 7th–8th centuries / AD 13th–14th centuries, Qur'an: Hegira 531 / AD 1178

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Embossed leather with gilt tooling.


Height 16.2 cm, width 15.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:





This binding for a single-volume Almohad Qur'an transcribed in Andalusian cursive characters on parchment has the same square format as the manuscript that it protects. It consists of two sides joined by hinges and closed by an embossed red-leather flap reinforced with card. It is decorated with abundant geometric and floral patterns.
The central composition of the sides consists of an eight-pointed star radiating a variety of polygons formed by geometric knotwork whose lines are decorated using a gilded groove pattern. It is surrounded by three superposed frames of different widths decorated with knotwork, double braids and mixtilinear knotwork lines whose interstices are filled with small, finely gilt-tooled stylised fleurons. The hinges, which closely fit the volume, are decorated with bouquets of roses and fleurons inscribed within the knots of a small interlaced chain.
The density of the decoration suggests that this binding is unlikely to be a contemporary of the Qur'an that it protects, and probably was not made before the Marinid period. It has also undoubtedly been restored subsequently, as suggested by its state of preservation and the oriental floral motifs painted on the back of the hinges. Indeed, these Turco-Persian rose bouquets did not become part of the Moroccan artistic repertoire until the beginning of the AH 11th / AD 17th century.

View Short Description

This binding, like the Almohad Qur'an that it protects, is square-shaped, although they were not made at the same time. It includes traditional geometric motifs as well as floral motifs, including rosettes of Eastern inspiration, a late addition to the Moroccan decorative repertoire.

Original Owner:

Habus (endowment)

How date and origin were established:

Through comparison with other bindings from the Almohad period and later held in Moroccan museums. For the Qur'an, the final page of the manuscript bears the date on which it was copied.

How provenance was established:

The decorative style on the binding is Moroccan.

Selected bibliography:

Al-Razi, J. and Varichon, A., 6000 ans d'art au Maroc, catalogue, Paris, 1990.
Ricard, P., “Reliures marocaines du XIIIe siècle”, Hespéris XVII, 1933, pp.109–27.
Sefriou, A., “Les métiers traditionnels”, La grande encyclopédie du Maroc, Vol. 6, Rabat, 1987, p.65.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, pp.108–9.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Qur’an binding" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;ma;Mus01_F;15;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-Boujibar
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 17