86 results in English
Eulogy to a Ruler
This calligraphic fragment includes a central panel with a eulogy to a king written in the "hanging" ta'liq script. Except for one line in black ink, all other horizontal and diagonal lines are written in white and outlined in black. Above the text panel appears, divided into two columns, a bayt (verse) by the great Persian poet Niẓāmī Ganjavī (died 1202 or 1203) about the power of miracles. The bayt is in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. Around the text panel is a blue border inscribed with ...
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Ghazal by Sa'di
This calligraphic fragment contains a ghazal (lyric poem) by the Persian poet Shaykh Sa'di (died 1292 [691 AH]). The verses describe a lover's search for his beloved and his request that she show herself to him. The verses are written in nasta'liq script using white, light blue, red, and yellow ink on a blue paper. Rangin (colored) inks add variety to the composition and are found in a number of calligraphies produced during the 16th century. The corners left open by the intersection of the diagonal verses ...
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The Feast of Iskandar and Nushabah from Niẓāmī's "Iskandarnamah"
The painting on the recto and the text on the verso of this fragment describe an episode in Niẓāmī's Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), the last text of the author's Khamsah (Quintet). In his work, the great Persian author Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203) describes the adventures and battles of Alexander the Great as he travels to the end of the world. On his way to the Land of Darkness, he visits the queen of the Caucasian city of Barda, Nushabah, in order ...
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Verses by Hilālī
This calligraphic fragment includes three distinct text panels all executed in Nasta'liq script: one written in black ink on blue paper, another in white ink on beige paper with two illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) in the upper and lower corners, and a third (lowest on the page) written in black ink on beige paper. All three panels were cut out and placed together, provided with a gold frame, and pasted to a larger sheet of paper decorated with flecks of gold. The blue text panel includes verses composed ...
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Three Bayts (Verses) to a Loved One
This calligraphic fragment includes three bayts (verses) of poetry in the main text panel and ten verses around this panel, creating a textual frame decorated with gold vine and leaf motifs. The entire calligraphic piece is pasted to a paper decorated with blue geometric and vegetal motifs highlighted in gold. The central text panel is topped by an illuminated rectangular panel and includes a decorative triangle in the upper left corner. The verses in the central panel are written in nasta'liq script on a white ground decorated with ...
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Bihari Qur'an
This folio contains, on the right side, verses 2–8 of Surat al-Kahf (The cave) of the Qur'an and, on the left side, verses 67–70 of the Surat Bani Isra'il (The children of Israel), also known as Surat al-Isra' (The night journey). The text is in Arabic with interlinear Persian translation in red ink. The borders include a commentary in Persian, written in black ink and laid out diagonally in the margin. On the rightmost margin of the verso appears a note cross-referenced to the sixth ayah ...
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Interlinear Qur'an: Surat al-Nisa'
The recto of this Qur'an fragment contains parts of the first three verses of the fourth chapter of the Qur'an, Surat al-Nisa' (Chapter of the women). At the top left side of the folio are the chapter title and the number of its verses (176) in bold gold Kufi letters. The title is in a gold-painted rectangular band ornamented with a gold medallion outlined in blue projecting into the left margin. Below the surah heading appears the first half of the first verse in large black muhaqqaq script ...
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Tughra of Sultan Ahmed III
This tughra (imperial emblem) belonged to the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III and appears on the verso of a 16th-century Safavid Persian single-sheet fragment of a Fal-i Qur'an, used for divination by means of letters selected at random. Ahmed III ruled from A.H. 1115–43 (A.D. 1703–30), so it is probable that the Qur'an came from southwestern Iran to the Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul sometime in the 17th century. The largely effaced date of 1111 (1700) on the verso supports the hypothesis that the Qur ...
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Divination by the Qur'an
This single sheet of a Fal-i Qur'an lays out in rhyming Persian distichs (couplets) the means of fal (divination) by letters selected at random when opening to a page of the Qur'an. This folio originally was included at the end of a Safavid Persian Qur'an, immediately after the last surah (chapter), Surat al-Nas, and a closing prayer on behalf of the Prophet and his family. The layout of the divination text, the script, and the remaining original illumination in the text frame are typical of fals placed ...
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Interlinear Qur'an (5: 89-95)
This interlinear Qur'an fragment of Surat al-Ma'idah (The table/the repast) is believed to belong to a manuscript dating from A.H. 1207 (A.D. 1792–93). The Qur'an includes translation in Persian written in complete sentences in red ink between each verse of the Arabic original. The late 18th-century practice of translation (or even paraphrasing) reflects the development of the production of interlinear Qur'ans over the centuries. Some of the earliest bilingual Qur'ans include only word-by-word translations; this is especially the case for Qur ...
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Mirror Image of 'Ali wali Allah
This 18th-century Ottoman levha (calligraphic panel) depicts the Shi'a phrase “'Ali is the vicegerent of God” in obverse and reverse, creating an exact mirror image. The calligrapher used the central vertical fold in the thick cream-colored paper to trace the exact calligraphic duplication prior to mounting it on cardboard and pasting rectangular pink frames along its borders. Mirror writing flourished during the early modern period, but its origins may stretch as far back as pre-Islamic mirror-image rock inscriptions in the Hijaz, the western strip of the Arabian Peninsula. Engraving ...
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Qur'anic Verses (9:33-36)
The recto of this fragment contains verses 33–34 of surah (chapter) nine of the Qur'an, al-Tawbah (The repentance), also known as Surat al-Bara'ah (The immunity) from the surah’s opening word, as it is the only surah to which the introductory bismillah (In the name of God) is not affixed. These verses speak about how men must fight against pagan enemies and uphold their faith. In the upper left corner of the folio is a hizb (section) marker, consisting of gold and blue concentric circles, blue finials ...
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Qur'anic Verses (44:56-59, 45:1-4)
This Qur'anic fragment contains the last verses (44: 56–59) of the surah (chapter) al-Dukhan (The smoke). Its verso continues with the beginning of chapter 45, al-Jathiyah (The kneeling down). The theme of Surat al-Dukhan is how worldly pride and power fade to smoke in the face of spiritual truths and how men will meet God’s judgment in the Hereafter. The initial verses of al-Jathiyah discuss the material signs of God on earth, such as the presence of humans and animals. Below the chapter heading in gold, executed ...
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Surat al-Nas and Du'a
This fragment contains on the top line the last two verses of the final surah (chapter) of the Qur'an, Surat al-Nas (Chapter of mankind). This chapter extols seeking refuge in the Lord from Satan, who, like al-jinn (the spirits), whispers evil things in the hearts of people (116:5–6). The verses at the top of the folio are separated by two verse markers shaped like gold disks with five blue dots on their peripheries. Immediately below the last verse appears a prayer in five lines praising God, the ...
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Safavid Qur'an (2:11-27)
This fragment contains verses 11–21 from the second surah (chapter) of the Qur'an, al-Baqarah (The cow), which continues with verses 21–27 on the fragment’s verso. Al-Baqarah 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 is taught that people should not put forward excuses to justify disobedience. The surah is early Medinan and ...
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Bismillah and Qur'anic Verse (81:1-14)
This Qur'anic fragment includes the bismillah (In the name of God) and verses 1–14 of surah (chapter) 81, al-Takwir (The folding up). These verses constitute some of the most graphic descriptions in the Qur'an of Doomsday and the associated reversal of natural phenomena. The sun folds up, stars fall from the sky, mountains vanish, oceans boil over, and a blazing fire is kindled. Souls are sorted out and men’s deeds weighed so that “each soul may know what it has put forward” (81:14). The fragment ...
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Qur'anic Verses (107-9, 110-112)
This Qur'anic fragment’s recto includes surahs (chapters) 107–9: al-Ma'un (The assistance), al-Kawthar (The abundance), and al-Kafirun (The unbelievers). The last chapters of the Qur'an tend to be Meccan and quite short, thus several can fit onto one page. They deal with sincerity in devotion and true worship and warn of persecuting men of different faith. The chapter headings are written in thuluth script. The top heading for al-Ma'un is executed in white ink, rather than gold outlined in black, and states that it is ...
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Qur'anic Verses (4: 94-100, 100-105)
This fragment contains verses 94–100 of the fourth surah (chapter) of the Qur'an, al-Nisa' (The women). The surah addresses the social problems faced by the Muslim community and the need to establish law and order through regulated communal practice. It deals largely with women, orphans, inheritance, marriage, and family rights. These particular verses recommend leaving places hostile to Islam and praise believers who keep their faith when abroad. The verso of the fragment includes verses 100–105 from the same surah, which discuss religious duties during periods of ...
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Anonymous Arabic and Persian Poetic Verses
This fragment contains an Arabic poem in eight verses in the center panel and Persian poetical verses in small rectangular registers arranged around the central panel and pasted above a light blue background. The Arabic poem stresses Muhammad’s ability to provide intercession for his community on the Day of Judgment. It is a kind of praise or request directed towards the Prophet that is seen in a number of other calligraphic panels meant either for public display or included in albums of calligraphies. The Arabic and Persian verses are ...
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The Opening
This calligraphic panel includes the bismillah (In the name of God) at the top, followed by the Qur'an's first surah (chapter), al-Fatihah (The opening). The surah introduces the Qur'an by praising God and asking for his guidance to the right path. On the last line, the Fatihah panel is signed by a certain 'Aliriza and dated A.H. 1241 (A.D. 1825). The entire specimen is calligraphed in dark brown naskh (cursive) script on a beige paper, which is framed by a series of alternating gold and ...
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Qur'an Carpet Page
This folio contains an opening carpet page of a Qur'an. It is the first of five folios belonging to a dispersed Qur'an manuscript in the collections of the Library of Congress. Together with another folio, this folio constitutes the double-page illuminated frontispiece of a beautiful, albeit damaged, 14th-century Mamluk Qur'an. This folio contains verses 76–78 of the 56th chapter of the Qur'an, al-Waqi'ah (The inevitable), contained in the top and bottom rectangular panels of the double-page illuminated frontispiece. The next folio continues the inscription ...
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The Cow
This folio includes, below an illuminated rectangular panel, part of the last verse of the Qur'an's first chapter, al-Fatihah (The opening). Below the last line of al-Fatihah appears the title, executed in gold and outlined in black, of the Qur'an's second chapter, al-Baqarah (The cow). The heading states that the chapter consists of 287 verses. After the chapter heading follows an initial bismillah (In the name of God), the mysterious letters alif and mim, and the first verse: “This is the Book; without a doubt, in ...
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Illuminated Frontispiece
This illuminated frontispiece is one of two pages that would have formed the opening double-page composition of a manuscript. It is possible that it belonged to a Qur'an. The title would have appeared in the top and bottom rectangular panels. The central medallion may have contained the beginning of the first chapter of the Qur'an, al-Fatihah (The opening). It also may have served as a space for the work’s dedication to a patron or blessings upon its owner. The illumination is typical of Qur'an frontispieces made ...
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Qur'anic Verses (56:77-9) on Carpet Page
As noted in the red rectangular registers at the top and bottom of this inscribed panel, this folio introduces the 26th juz' (section) of the Qur'an. The central space includes an inscription containing verses 77–79 of Chapter 56, Surat al-Waqi'ah (The inevitable). These verses typically open the Qur'an, although they may appear in decorated pages used to separate the ajza' (parts) of the Qur'an. The surah (chapter) title at the top is executed in gold and outlined in black ink. It specifies that this surah ...
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Divan of Sultan Husayn Mirza
This folio includes ten lines of poetry from a divan (compendium of poems) written in Chagatay Turkish by the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Mirza (1438–1506). Executed in nasta'liq script through a process of découpage, the fragment belongs to a now dispersed manuscript possibly calligraphed by Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi around 1490. Sultan Husayn Mirza b. Mansur b. Bayqara was ruler of Khurasan, based in its capital city of Herat (present-day Afghanistan), from 1469 to his death in 1506. The city was an important cultural center, attracting both Turkish ...
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al-Baydawi's "Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta'wil" with Frontispiece
This folio contains the illuminated frontispiece and title from a manuscript of Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta'wil (The lights of revelation and the secrets of interpretation), a work consisting of a popular Qur'anic tafsir (exegesis) composed by the 13th-century scholar al-Baydawi. The title appears in the top panel of the frontispiece, in white ink with the letters drawn out at the vertical to fit into the shape of the horizontal register. The white letters are outlined in black ink and emerge from a gold background decorated with blue ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes two separate horizontal panels cut out and pasted onto a cardboard backing. The upper band contains verse 86 of surah (chapter) three of the Qur'an, Al 'Imran (The family of 'Imran); the lower band includes verse 89 of the same chapter. The surah calls on Muslims to hold together in harmony and friendship. The ayah (verse) marker in the lower band consists of a gold roundel composed of concentric circles outlined in dark brown ink. Three words were omitted from the original text and have ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This Qur'anic fragment includes verses from several surahs (chapters) in the Qur'an. On the right side, the fragment contains the first 24 verses of the 56th chapter, al-Waqi'ah (The inevitable). The surah’s heading appears at the top of the right folio, in white ink on a gold ground and framed by a horizontal cartouche decorated with vine motifs on a blue or red background. Below the frame is a simple horizontal band of light blue floral vines and minuscule red dots contained in a gold-outlined panel ...
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Qur'an Carpet Page; al-Fatihah
This folio contains an opening carpet page of a Qur'an. It is the second of five folios belonging to a dispersed Qur'an manuscript in the collections of the Library of Congress. Together with another folio, this folio constitutes the double-page illuminated frontispiece of a beautiful, albeit damaged, 14th-century Mamluk Qur'an. The folio contains the continuation of verses 76–80 of the 56th surah (chapter), al-Waqi'ah (The inevitable), contained in the top and bottom rectangular panels of the double-page illuminated frontispiece. The decorative patterns and palette of ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This Qur'anic fragment includes verses 85–88 of the third surah (chapter) of the Qur'an, Al 'Imran (The family of 'Imran). The verses continue on the fragment’s verso. In this surah, all people are invited to accept Islam, while Muslims are encouraged to seek friendship and security within their communities. Between each horizontal line of Arabic text are diagonal word-by-word translations into Persian. Unlike similar interlinear Qur'ans that include a Persian translation in red ink, this fragment makes no color differentiation between the Arabic original and ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This fragment includes on its recto the last verse (110) of the 18th chapter of the Qur'an entitled Surat al-Kahf (The cave). The heading of the next chapter (19) entitled Surat Maryam (Mary) appears on the fragment's verso. The Qur'anic text itself is executed on rag paper in old Persian Naskh and provided with interlinear Persian translations. Like the chapter heading on its verso, the last line of Surat al-Kahf is executed in plaited eastern Kufi, with knots executed in black ink on the letters' stems and ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This Qur'anic fragment includes verses 35–36 of the 40th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Ghafir (The forgiver), also known as al-Mu'min (The believer). Verses 36 and 37 of the same surah continue on the fragment's verso. This chapter of the Qur'an uses the story of an individual believer (Moses) among people ruled by an arrogant leader (Pharaoh) to show how faith can prevail against evil. These two verses state that God closes the hearts of "arrogant and obstinate transgressors," such as Pharaoh, who believes ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This folio contains verses 1–4 of the second chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Baqarah (The cow), the fourth of five folios belonging to a dispersed Qur'an manuscript in the collections of the Library of Congress. Together, these folios constitute the first five folios of a beautiful, albeit damaged, 14th-century Mamluk Qur'an. The title of the chapter, executed on a blue and gold background in the top and bottom rectangular panels, gives the name of the surah and the total number of verses (286), words, and letters ...
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Illuminated Panel and Qur'anic Chapter
This illuminated rectangular panel appears at the very beginning of a Qur'an executed in early Naskh script, dating from about the 11th–13th centuries. On the verso of the folio appears al-Fatihah (The opening), the first chapter of the Qur'an. Ornamental pages such as this one decorate the start or end of Qur'ans from the ninth century onward. Also called "carpet pages," they provide an ornamental and structural break in the manuscript. Rectangular panels filled with geometric motifs and provided with a finial or leaf-like medallion on ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This Qur'anic fragment includes the last verse (30) of the 32nd chapter of the Qur'an, Surat al-Sajdah (The prostration), as well as the bismillah (in the name of God) and first verse of the subsequent chapter (33) entitled Surat al-Ahzab (The confederates). The subsequent verses of Surat al-Ahzab continue on the fragment's verso. The title executed in gold ink outlined in black specifies that the chapter contains 73 verses. The beginning of this surah discusses the necessity of abandoning pagan customs. The verso of this fragment includes ...
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Beginning of Niẓāmī's "Iqbalnamah"
This illuminated folio continues the beginning of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Iqbalnamah (The book of progress), the second of two sections in the last book, Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), of the author’s Khamsah (Quintet). It follows the first two illuminated folios of the book and provides multiple subhan (praises) of the Creator, as well as a eulogy on Muhammad, the Lord of the Messengers. Niẓāmī introduces each of his five books with introductory praises of God and His Prophet before launching into a narrative. The verso of ...
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Colophon of Niẓāmī's "Sharafnamah" and Title Page of Niẓāmī's "Iqbalnamah"
This folio contains the last lines and colophon of the Sharafnamah (The book of honor), the first section of the fifth book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet) entitled Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great). On the folio's verso appears the beginning of the second section of the Iskandarnamah called Iqbalnamah (The book of progress), arranged in an illuminated title page, which contains a heading written in white ink: Kitab Iqbalnamah-yi Shaykh Nizami, 'alayhi al-rahmah wa-al-maghfarah (The book of progress of Niẓāmī, mercy and forgiveness upon him). The ...
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Colophon of Niẓāmī's "Makhzan al-Asrar" and Title Page of Niẓāmī's "Khusraw va Shirin"
This folio contains the illuminated title page of the second book of Niẓāmī's Khamsah (Quintet), entitled Khusraw va Shirin, and the colophon of the preceding work, Makhzan al-Asrar (The treasury of secrets). Written during the last few decades of the 12th century, the Khamsah consists of five books written in rhyming distichs. Along with Firdawsī's Shahnamah (Book of kings), the Khamsah stands out as one of the great monuments of medieval Persian poetry. It is about the love relationship of the last great Sasanian ruler, Khusraw Parvīz (590 ...
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Beginning of Niẓāmī's "Khusraw va Shirin"
This illuminated folio contains the introductory praise dar tawhid-i Bari (to God and His Unity, or on the Unity of the Creator) of the second book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet), entitled Khusraw va Shirin. It continues the text of the first two folios of the book, also held in the Library of Congress, and thus completes the praise of God typically found at the beginning of each book of the Khamsah. This first section is then followed, as seen on this folio, by an examination of the istidlal ...
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The Fainting of Laylah and Majnun from Niẓāmī's "Khamsah"
This folio depicts a well-known passage from the tragic story of Laylah and Majnun described in the third book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet). Forcibly separated by the animosity of their respective tribes toward each other, forced marriages, and years of exile in the wilderness, the two ill-fated lovers meet again for the last time before each is to die, thanks to the intervention of Majnun's elderly messenger. Upon seeing each other in a palm-grove outside of Laylah's camp, they faint from pain and extreme passion. The ...
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Qur'anic Verses
This Qur'anic fragment includes a carpet page on the left intended to introduce a new section of the Qur'an, as well as the subsequent ayahs (verses) 53–54 of the 39th surah (chapter) entitled al-Zumar (The crowds). Surat al-Zumar is the last of a series of six chapters (34–39) dealing with the mysteries of the spiritual world and the hereafter. Verse 53 in particular stresses God's compassion. The green and red illuminated carpet page on the folio's left is intended to introduce the 24th juz ...
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Siyah Mashq
This calligraphic practice sheet includes a number of diagonal words and letters used in combinations facing upwards and downwards on the folio. The common Persian cursive script Nasta'liq is favored over the more "broken" Shikastah script. These sheets, known as siyah mashq (literally black practice in Persian), were entirely covered with writing as a means to practice calligraphy while conserving paper. In time, they became collectible items and thus were signed and dated (this fragment, however, has no signature or date). Many fragments such as this one were provided ...
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