Leaf from a Mamluk Qur'an
This single leaf comes from a large format Mamlūk muṣḥaf (copy of the Qur’ān) likely produced in Egypt in the 14th or 15th century. The text is penned in a carefully executed and fully-vowelled muḥaqqaq, a stately rectilinear script that emerged as one of the new proportioned scripts traditionally affiliated with the writing reform of Ibn Muqlah (d.940) and refined and standardized by Ibn al-Bawwāb (d.1022). Established as a bookhand by the 13th century, muḥaqqaq was favored by Mamlūk (as well as Īl-khānid, Jalāyirid and Tīmūrid) calligraphers of the later middle period (roughly mid-13th to 15th century) for transcription of large-format Qur’āns, though it supposedly also saw limited use in the chancery for calligraphic emblems (ṭughrawāt) and official letters.
The written area is arranged in a single column with 12 lines per page, surrounded by a gold frame defined by black fillets. Illuminated textual dividers in the form of gold rosettes with red accents mark the ends of verses and marginal illumination in the form of a roundel carrying the wordثمن (thumn) in gold on a blue ground with red, gold and blue accents, marks the close of one eighth (thumn) of a ḥizb or sixtieth of the text (here the 6th thumn of the 26th ḥizb).
Instances of the Most Beautiful Names of God including الله (Allāh, God the one and only), غفور (Ghafūr, the Very Indulgent who pardons much), and رحيم (Raḥīm, the Compassionate) are written in gold.
Marginal annotations in red ink contrast the reading of Abū ʿAmr b. al-ʿAlāʾ (d.154/771) as transmitted by Abū ʿUmar Ḥafṣ b. ʿUmar al-Dūrī (ca. 246/860-1) with that of Nāfiʿ b. ʿAbd al-Raḥman (d. ca. 169/785-6) as transmitted by Abū Mūsā ʿĪsā b. Mīnā Qālūn (d. ca. 220/835).
This leaf was apparently obtained in Egypt and was a gift of Richard Ettinghausen (Associate Professor of History of Islamic Art at the University of Michigan from 1938-1944) to the Research Seminar in Islamic Art, 1940. It was transferred to the Special Collections Library from the Kelsey Museum.
References: Mansour, Nassar. Sacred script : Muhaqqaq in Islamic calligraphy. London: Tauris, 2011 ; Duncan, Haldane. "Qur’ans from the Library of the Institute of Ismaili Studies." In Word of God, art of man: the Qur'an and its creative expressions : selected proceedings from the International Colloquium, London, 18-21 October 2003. Ed. Fahmida Suleman. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007): pp.51-68 ; James, David. Qurʾāns of the Mamlūks. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1988.