Qurʼanic Verses


This calligraphic fragment includes verses 17−22 of the 18th chapter of the Qurʼan entitled al-Kahf (The cave). The text continues on the fragment's verso with verses 22−31. Surat al-Kahf relates the story of the Companions of the Cave, also known as the Sleepers of Ephesus. These Christian martyrs were immured in a cave near Ephesus during the persecutions by Decius in about 250. They awoke in the fifth century during the reign of Theodosius II, when Christianity was firmly established. They fell asleep once more and, we are told, will not awake again until the Day of Judgment. This surah uses the parable of the Companions of the Cave to underscore our defective notions of time and to prove that faith always triumphs over disbelief. This text is executed in Kufi (New Style I), a script typical of Qurʼans produced in the vertical format during the 11th−12th centuries. The script's simple form was popular and widely used. The main text, diacritical dots, and strokes are executed in black ink, while vocalization marks are made in red ink. Orthoepics (pronunciation marks) such as the duplication of a tashdid (vowel) and the sukun (silence) are written in green ink. Many verse markers are absent. The few markers that are visible consist of three parallel diagonal lines executed in black ink. In the left margin appears a decorative roundel in yellow and red ink intended to mark a tenth verse. The lower part of the folio is lost to damage, and some of the words on the top line of text appear to have been rewritten.

Last updated: April 6, 2015