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Manuscript/Mixed Material al-Baqarah (The cow)

About this Item


  • al-Baqarah (The cow)

Created / Published

  • 11th-13th centuries


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Manuscripts, Arabic--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  Syria
  • -  Iraq
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Early naskh
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Islamic calligraphy
  • -  Islamic manuscripts


  • -  Early naskh; Surah al Baqarah.
  • -  Below an illuminated rectangular panel, this folio includes part of the last verse of the Qur'an's first chapter entitled al-Fatihah (The Opening), which appears on another folio in the collections of the Library of Congress (see 1-85-154.78b V). Below the last line of al-Fatihah appears the title, executed in gold and outlined in black, of the Qur'an's second chapter entitled al-Baqarah (The Cow). As the heading states, this chapter consists of 287 verses. After the chapter heading follow an initial bismillah, the mysterious letters alif and mim (a-m), and the first verse: "This is the Book; without a doubt, in it is guidance for those who fear God." Part of the chapter's verse begins on this folio and continues on the fragment's verso (see 1-85-154.78a V).
  • -  Executed in early naskh script on vellum, this fragmentary Qur'an dates probably from the 11th-13th century and may have been produced in Iraq or Syria (Lings and Safadi :44-45, no. 55). It foreshadows the development of cursive script under the Mamluks, who ruled in Egypt and Syria during the 14th and 15th centuries (see Freer Gallery 32.2 and 48.9). The decorative panels with braided motifs executed in gold paint include finials jetting out into the left margin. These finials resemble a "handle" (ansa), such as the one provided as a decorative motif on the Qur'an's introductory ornamental page (1-85-154.78b R).
  • -  The text is fully vocalized in black ink. Verse markers consist of eight-petalled rosettes filled with gold paint and with red circles dotting their perimeters. This particular folio suffers from worm holes and ink stains on the left vertical border.
  • -  The verses contained on the verso of this fragment warn those who feign belief in God, as they only deceive themselves. As verses 6-7 state: " As to those who reject faith, it is the same to them whether you warn them or not. They will not believe. God has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing. On their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they incur."
  • -  This folio has been published in Selim 1979, 147 (lower).
  • -  Script: early naskh
  • -  1-85-154.78a


  • 1 volume ; 12.2 (w) x 15.9 (w) cm


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

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714480

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:

al-Baqarah The cow. 11th-13th Centuries. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

al-Baqarah The cow. 11th-13th Centuries. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

al-Baqarah The cow. 11th-13th Centuries. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.