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Walters Ms. W.554, Koran
This horizontal-format manuscript on parchment is a collection of illuminated fragments of the Qur'an, dating to the late third century AH / ninth CE and possibly to the fifth century AH / eleventh CE. The earlier text is written in an Early Abbasid (Kufic) script, and the later text is in a hand influenced by the New Abbasid (broken cursive) style. Both are in dark brown ink and vocalized with red dots. The codex opens with an illuminated frontispiece (fol. 1a) of geometric design and closes with a similarly decorated finispiece (fol. 77b). Illuminated forms include chapter headings in gold ink with polychrome palmettes extending into the margin, tashdīds highlighted in gold ink, and verse markers for individual verses and groups of five and ten verses. The blind-tooled black goatskin binding, which is attributable to Egypt, is an important example of early Islamic bookbinding.
Late 3rd century AH / 9th CE; fols. 2 and fols. 4-25 added much later, probably in the 5th century AH / 11th CE
Central Arab lands
The primary language in this manuscript is Arabic.
Comments: Fol. 3 misbound, now before fol. 75
27.5 cm wide by 17.5 cm high
22.0 cm wide by 12.5 cm high
- Columns: 1
- Ruled lines: 11
- Title: al-Qurʾān
- Text note: Contains chapters 1 (Sūrat al-fātiḥah) (fol. 1b); 23 (Sūrat al-muʾminūn), verses 64-77 (fol. 2a-b); 34 (Sūrat al-sabā), verses 1-7 (fol. 3a-b); 23 (Sūrat al-muʾminūn), verse 92 through chapter 28 (Sūrat al-qaṣaṣ), verse 87 (fols. 4a-45b); 29 (Sūrat al-ʿankabūt), verses 10-33 (fols. 46a-74b); and 34 (Sūrat al-sabā), verses13-23 (fols. 75a-77a)
- Hand note: Early fragments written in an Early Abbasid (Kufic) script; later folios written in a hand influenced by the New Abbasid (broken cursive) style; both scripts vocalized by means of red dots
- Decoration note: Illuminated frontispiece and finispiece; chapter headings in gold ink with polychrome palmettes extending into the margin; rosettes in gold with colored dots for each verse; polychrome medallions with petal borders for groups of five and ten verses; tashdids in gold ink
Upper board outside:
- Title: Binding
- Form: Binding
- Label: This binding is attributable to Egypt and may date to the fifth century AH / eleventh CE. The central medallion is defined by two round lobes and two triangular projections. The overall application of a small tool with a six-pointed star is an unusual feature. An identical tool is also applied to the cornerpieces. The frame is defined by a tooled decoration of stylized leaves.
- Title: Illuminated frontispiece of geometrical design in gold and blue
- Form: Frontispiece
- Label: This full-page illuminated frontispiece with geometrical decoration in gold and blue has a marginal palmette at left which is cropped.
- Title: Illuminated incipit and chapter heading for chapter 1 of the Qur'an
- Form: Incipit; chapter heading
- Text: Sūrat al-fātiḥah
- Label: This illuminated incipit page bears a chapter heading for chapter 1 (Sūrat al-fātiḥah). The final verse is followed by a design of zigzag motifs and stylized leaves in gold ink.
The binding is not original.
Probably fifth century AH / eleventh CE; blind-tooled black goatskin (without flap); central medallion defined by two round lobes and two triangular projections; overall application of a small tool with a six-pointed star; identical tool applied to cornerpieces; inner frame defined by a tooled decoration of stylized leaves; central form in which multiple small circles enclose the six-pointed star; cornerpieces; outer frame
Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest
Ettinghausen, Richard. "The Covers of the Morgan Manāfi' Manuscript and Other Early Persian Bookbindings." Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Greene, edited by Dorothy Miner. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954: 459-473.
Principal cataloger: Gacek, Adam
Catalogers: Landau, Amy; Smith, Sita
Copy editor: Bockrath, Diane
Conservators: Jewell, Stephanie; Quandt, Abigail
Contributors: Barrera, Christina; Emery, Doug; Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William; Simpson, Shreve; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Valle, Chiara
The Walters Art Museum
Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.