The Cow


This folio includes, below an illuminated rectangular panel, part of the last verse of the Qurʼan'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 Qurʼan'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 it is guidance for those who fear God.” The verses on the reverse side of the fragment warn that those who feign belief in God only deceive themselves. Executed in early naskh script on vellum, this fragmentary Qurʼan probably dates from the 11th–13th centuries and may have been produced in Iraq or Syria. It foreshadows the development of cursive script under the Mamluks, who ruled in Egypt and Syria during the 14th and 15th centuries. The decorative panels with braided motifs executed in gold paint include finials jetting out into the left margin. The text is fully vocalized in black ink. Verse markers consist of eight-petal rosettes filled with gold paint and with red circles dotting their perimeters. The folio has worm holes and ink stains on the left vertical border.

Last updated: April 16, 2015