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Manuscript/Mixed Material Interlinear Qur'an (Surat al-Nisa')

About this Item


  • Interlinear Qur'an (Surat al-Nisa')

Created / Published

  • c. 1250-1350 A.D.


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Calligraphy, Persian
  • -  Manuscripts, Arabic--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  Iran--Tabrīz
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Islamic calligraphy
  • -  Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Kufi
  • -  Muhaqqaq
  • -  Thuluth


  • -  A further sense of antiquity appears in the gold surah heading in Kufi at the top of the left folio. It harks back to earlier decorative ornaments and illumination present in Qur'ans of the 'Abbasid period (Déroche 1992). The paper is cream-colored, and the ink on the verso shows through to the recto. An effaced gold and blue ayah marker appears in the right margin of the fourth line of text on the right folio.
  • -  Dimensions of Written Surface: 23.5 (w) x 13.7 (h) cm
  • -  On paleographic grounds, this Qur'an fragment appears to date from the Ilkhanid period (ca. 1250-1350). It may have been produced in the imperial center of Tabriz in northwestern Iran. The clear Arabic muhaqqaq and Persian thuluth scripts are typical of the period, as are certain variants in the Persian orthography (e.g. the dhal (dh) appears in lieu of the dal (d). It is quite unlike later Safavid interlinear Qur'ans, whose Persian translations appear in red nasta'liq script in horizontal registers (see 1-85-154.67 and Bayani 1999: 138-9, cat. no. 45). Both the lack of differentiation between the color of the scripts and the absence of a frame in this fragment suggests that it dates from the formative years of Ilkhanid production of bilingual Arabic-Persian Qur'ans.
  • -  The recto of this Qur'an fragment contains parts of the first three verses of the fourth chapter of the Qur'an entitled Surat al-Nisa' (Chapter of the Women). At the top left side of the folio appears the chapter title and the total number of its verses (176) in bold gold Kufi letters. The title is contained in a gold-painted rectangular band ornamented with a gold medallion outlined in blue projecting into the left margin. Immediately below the surah heading appears the first half of the first verse in large black muhaqqaq script, with diagonal word-by-word translations into Persian between each horizontal line of text. The right side of the folio contains the second half of the third verse of the same chapter, which, when folded vertically in two at the center with verses 1-3 included on its verso (1-84-154.27c V), yields the first four continuous pages of text of Surat al-Nisa'.
  • -  The verso fortunately retains two verse markers that are almost entirely effaced on the recto: here we see simple black-ink multilobed outlines of rosettes, filled in with gold and a central blue circle. The outer lobes are dotted with red marks, perhaps added at a later date. Interlinear Qur'ans from the same period (ca. 1250-1350 A.D.) also include blue circles for verse markers, and in some cases these markers contain the word ayah to demarcate each verse (James 1992a: 56-7, cat. no. 10).
  • -  This Qur'anic fragment is of particular interest as it provides pronunciation directions in the margins, specifying, for example, how to lighten the sound "s" of a word or how to vocalize a terminal "m" of another (right folio, line three, right and left margins). These marginal glosses instruct the reader how to read properly and thus highlight the oral nature of the Qur'an.
  • -  Unlike similar interlinear Qur'ans that tend to include a Persian translation in red ink (James 1992a: 56-7, cat. no. 10), this particular fragment makes no color differentiation between the Arabic original and its Persian rendition immediately below. Diacritical marks in red, such as the hamzah, dammah, and shaddah, appear to have been added at a later date, much like the marginal glosses and corrections.
  • -  Script: muhaqqaq, thuluth, and Kufi
  • -  1-84-154.27c


  • 1 volume ; 31.9 (w) x 19.5 (h) cm


  • Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714465

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Interlinear Qur'an Surat al-Nisa'. to 1350 A.D, 1250. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

(1250) Interlinear Qur'an Surat al-Nisa'. to 1350 A.D. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Interlinear Qur'an Surat al-Nisa'. to 1350 A.D, 1250. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.