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 Ramadan 713 / AD December 1313

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

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.

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

finished (aharlı) paper, ink, gilding, leather (binding).


Height 35 cm, width 26.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Cairo, Egypt.


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.

View Short Description

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.

Original Owner:

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)

How date and origin were established:

The colophon gives the date as Ramadan 713 / December 1313.

How Object was obtained:

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.

How provenance was established:

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.

Selected bibliography:

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.

Citation of this web page:

Şule Aksoy "Qur’an" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;tr;Mus01;22;en

Prepared by: Şule Aksoy
Translation by: Barry Wood, İnci Türkoğlu
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: TR 39