This exquisite illuminated Qurʼan (Or 15227) dating from the 19th century originates from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. On the basis of various codicological features, the manuscript can be attributed to the cultural zone encompassing Kelantan, on the northeast coast of Malaysia, and Patani, in southern Thailand. In many ways, the Qurʼan is typical of manuscript production in Patani, with black endpapers of Thai manufacture, a cloth cover with elaborate stitched headbands, and illuminated frames with typical Patani features, such as the interlocking-wave motif. And yet the exactitude of the drawing and coloring, and the repetition of ornamental details, is more typical of Qurʼans from the court of Terengganu, just south of Kelantan, the richest center for Islamic manuscript illumination in Southeast Asia. The hybrid character of this manuscript is emphasized by some other unusual features, including the presence of double decorated frames in the middle of the book marking the start of Surat al-Kahf and Surat Yasin, instead of just at the beginning of Surat al-Isra’, as is usual in east coast Qurʼans. The illuminated pages have six double decorated frames and one single decorated frame in the “East Coast” style. Text frames are ruled lines of black-thick yellow-black-black-red ink. Verse markers are yellow (and occasionally green) roundels outlined in black. Surah headings are set within rectangular frames, reserved in white against five colored panels, alternating either green and red, or blue and red. Marginalia include juz' marked by beautiful ornaments with the words al-juz' reserved in white against a colored background in a roundel with floral extensions above and below (these markers are found every 10 folios, always situated in the top-right corner of the verso of a folio); maqra’ written in red ink in a very small hand; and catchwords at the end of every quire. This is the first Qurʼan manuscript in the British Library to be digitized in its entirety. The manuscript was displayed in the British Library’s sacred texts exhibition in 2007 and also was featured in the accompanying book on Qurʼan manuscripts.

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307 folios ; 223 x 165 millimeters


  • British Library manuscript reference number: Or 15227


  1. Annabel Gallop, “An illuminated Malay Qurʼan," Southeast Asia Library Group (SEALG) Blog, March 12, 2013, http://southeastasianlibrarygroup.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/an-illuminated-malay-quran/.

Last updated: April 6, 2015