Qurʼan Carpet Page


This folio contains an opening carpet page of a Qurʼan. It is the first of five folios belonging to a dispersed Qurʼan 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 Qurʼan. This folio contains verses 76–78 of the 56th chapter of the Qurʼan, 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 with verses 56:79–80. The verses introduce the Qurʼan as a blessed and precious book revealed by God, which must be touched only by those who are pure both physically and psychologically. All or parts of these five verses appear on decorative carpet pages intended to begin the Qurʼan or to separate various parts of it. They remind the reader of the sacred character of the Qurʼan, while providing an artistic, visual break from the text itself. The decorative patterns and palette of this carpet page are typical of 14th-century Mamluk Qurʼans made in Egypt. The centerpiece consists of a hexagon prolonged to form alternating gold and blue polygons and four eight-pointed stars in each corner of the rectangular frame. The lines creating the forms, just like the inscriptions, are executed in white ink. The polygons alternate between gold designs on a blue ground and a blue design on a gold ground, while the eight-pointed stars contain palmette and bulb-like gold motifs on a blue ground. The border around the edge of the panel consists of interlacing gold zigzags.

Last updated: May 7, 2015