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Manuscript/Mixed Material Safavid Qur'an (2:11-27)

About this Item


  • Safavid Qur'an (2:11-27)

Created / Published

  • c. 1550-1600


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Calligraphy, Persian
  • -  Manuscripts, Arabic--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  Iran
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Islamic calligraphy
  • -  Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Rayhani


  • -  A page from an Safavid Qur'an.
  • -  Recto: Dimensions of Written Surface: 13.4 (w) x 22.4 (h) cm. Verso: Dimensions of Written Surface: 13.2 (w) x 22.7 (h) cm.
  • -  The fragment's calligraphy and illumination are typically Safavid Persian (1501-1722). Many Qur'ans made for export in the southwestern city of Shiraz during the second half of the 16th century contain similar motifs (James 1992b: 150-55, cat. no. 39). These include gold painted flowers and vines highlighted in red and dark purple in the folio's margins and calligraphy outlined in gold cloud bands containing orange and blue flowers. The lavish decoration on the folio's margins sets it apart as one of the first folios of the Qur'an's second chapter. Subsequent pages, such as the folio's verso, would not have included such lavish marginal designs. It is also possible that this Qur'an's original opening chapter, al-Fatihah, and perhaps the first eleven verses of al-Baqarah were set in cartouches on a highly illuminated background (Beit Al Qur'an 1996, 97 and James 1992, 150).
  • -  The recto verse markers consist of rosettes with six gold petals arranged in geometric shapes. The markers on the verso are not as abstract and geometric as those on the fragment's recto: here they appear as round gold rosettes with blue dots and red lines marking the center of each of the six petals. The verses also contain minute red signs in order to follow the rules of stopping ('alamat al-waqf) while reciting of the Qur'an. On line 4 recto, for example, the letters alif-lam (a-l) indicate that the reciter may not stop at the place indicated and the letter jim (j) gives the reciter the choice to stop or continue. Another example is line 5 verso containing the three combined letters (s-l-y) sad-lam-ya (called wasl awla), which indicates that the reader may or may not stop at the place indicated, but the preference is not to stop. Recitation symbols appear in red immediately above the Arabic verses: Some elongate the "a" sounds (the alif maddah), while others indicate when it is permissible to stop or not.
  • -  The script utilized here is rayhani: It is one of the six styles (al-aqlam al-sittah) of cursive writing developed by the great calligrapher Ibn al-Bawwab (d. 423/1032). It is most closely related to naskh and muhaqqaq, though thinner and smaller in scale. It was used for texts where readability was a necessity, in particular Qur'ans (Zakariya 1979, 23) or, in the Ottoman tradition, a variety of other pious works such as Du'a-namahs, or prayer manuals (Ozonder 2003, 164).
  • -  This fragment contains verses 11-21 from the second chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Baqarah (The Cow), which continues with verses 21-27 on the fragment's verso (1-88-154.139 V). This surah appears immediately after the introductory chapter al-Fatihah (The Opening) and, with a total of 286 verses, is the longest chapter in the Qur'an. Its name derives from the parable of Moses and the cow mentioned in 2:67-71, in which it shows that people should not avoid obedience by presenting a variety of excuses. This surah is early Medinan and stresses faith and personal trustworthiness. The ten verses on this folio, in particular, warn of the consequences of religious insincerity and duplicity.
  • -  Script: rayhani
  • -  1-88-154.139


  • 1 volume ; 18.2 (w) x 33.8 (h) cm


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

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714473

Online Format

  • 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:

Safavid Qur'an 2:11-27. to 1600, ca. 1550. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

(ca. 1550) Safavid Qur'an 2:11-27. to 1600. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Safavid Qur'an 2:11-27. to 1600, ca. 1550. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.