Qurʼanic Verses


These fragments include verses from the 17th chapter of the Qurʼan entitled Bani Isra'il (The Children of Israel) or al-Isra' (The night journey). Surat Bani Isra'il describes a number of events, including the Prophet Muhammad's isra' (night journey) to Jerusalem and his mi'raj (ascension) through the skies. The verses (73−84) on the two fragments in the Library of Congress describe the value of prayer and the Qurʼan. The first reads: “We sent down in the Qurʼan / that which is a healing and a mercy / to those who believe. / To the unjust it causes / Nothing but loss after loss.” (17:82); and the second: “Everyone acts according to his own disposition. / But your Lord knows best / Who is best guided on the way.” (17:84). These Qurʼanic fragments are written in Kufi script on parchment. The recto of the first fragment has been executed on the hair side of the parchment, so the ink has not worn off substantially. The main text in the center of the folio is in black ink at five lines per page. Vocalization is marked by red and gold dots. Gold dots appear rather infrequently in Qurʼans produced during the ninth century. On the recto and verso other diacritical marks are executed in black ink and most likely date from a later period. On the fourth line of the recto of the first fragment appears an ayah marker separating verse 73 from verse 74 and consisting of a gold rosette. On the verso at the end of the first line appears an ayah marker separating verse 74 from verse 75, also a gold rosette. The last line has another ayah marker separating verse 75 from verse 76. Because it separates a fifth verse, it is shaped differently, here as the gold Arabic letter ha' (h). The lower-left corner of the parchment was lost on the first fragment but repaired, probably at the same time as the folio was mounted on an elaborate frame made of brown paper, decorated with gold vine scrolls and Qurʼanic inscriptions executed in imitation of the original Kufi script as found in the central panel. On the left vertical, a sarloh (illuminated headpiece) with stippled gold designs decorates the folio as if it were the incipit page to a Persian poetical work. It is very unusual to find this kind of combination, although salvaging and remounting calligraphic fragments into albums occurs regularly during the Timurid and Safavid periods.

Last updated: April 6, 2015