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Large illuminated Qu'ran.

India, Mughal period : 17th century] Stock Code: 138649
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This is highly luxurious and interesting Qur'an manuscript, notable for its profuse and fine illumination. At the beginning are two double page openings, the first bearing two exquisite polychrome shamsas (sun-burst motifs), set in separate gold frames with illuminated floral corner decoration. The shamsas are in the form of large concentric circles, each with distinctive varying decorative motifs, with large lobed cusps issuing from the top and bottom of the outer circle. They resemble more the tightly controlled shamsas seen in Akbar's 1595 Khamsa of Nizami (see Brend, B., The Emperor Akbar's Khamsa of Nizami, London, 1995, figs. 50-56) than they do the radiating sun-bursts of the Shah Jahan period seen for instance in the Kevorkian Album (Welch, S.C., Schimmel A., Swietochowski, M.L. & Thackston, W.M., The Emperor's Album: Images of Mughal India, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1987, pl. 1). These shamsas are followed by a magnificently illuminated frontispiece bearing the text of Surah al-Fatiha (the Opening) and Surah al-Baqarah (the Cow), containing a more typical display of frontispiece illumination, with a gold and polychrome ground, framed by a border of polylobed cusps with foliate extensions, set in an outer margin of subtle blue and gold finials on a plain background, and large lobed cusps extending into the margin.
The illumination, which shows clear influences from Safavid Persia - such as the lobed frame, knot work border, and cloud scrolls- nevertheless has certain details of style and palette that point to an origin in the Mughal Empire. For example, the colours used in the opening illumination are characteristically Indian: the profuse use of pale green, mauve and a lighter shade of blue, as well as the scalloped outer border seen in the frontispiece are typical of Mughal manuscript illumination.
The main text of the Qur'an is written in a beautiful and even naskh script on dark brown paper, which contrasts with the light cream margins. The illumination and excellent naskh calligraphy displayed in this this Qur'an are superb examples of the highly decorative style of illumination, and the highly skilled craftsmanship characteristic of Mughal scribes and illuminators in India in the seventeenth century.

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Folio 32 x 20 cm. Arabic manuscript on cream paper, 376 folios, 11 lines of black naskh to the page, within gold foliate frame, single verse divisions marked by gold roundels; 2 frontispieces of gold medallions with blue and polychrome floral motifs, within gold and polychrome frame, finely illuminated opening bifolium with gold, blue, green, pink, red and yellow. Considerable worming in borders. Beige leather binding with black repair at spine. Four seal impressions on the colophon page. Preserved in a modern protective case.


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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

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