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Patronage of Qur’an Manuscripts

A fine example of a Qur’an manuscript produced under Ilkhanid patronage is the ‘Anonymous Baghdad Qur’an’ written in 30 volumes during the 14th century. This is now dispersed between various collections: the following two pages are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (55.44) and the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (IS 1614.2).

The Qur’an of Sultan Baybar in the British Library that you explored earlier is a beautiful example of a Qur’an from the Mamlūk period. It was produced in Cairo in 1305-6. If you compare the frontispiece of the Chester Beatty Qur’an above you will notice many similarities in overall design and colour, especially in terms of their large-scale and the use of geometric pattern. However, there are also clear stylistic differences: the Mamlūk Qur’an uses gold, but its use to highlight the background decorative elements is more prominent in the Ilkhanid Qur’an. The Ilkhaniid illuminator also uses a more limited colour palette.

The image above is another Mamlūk Qur’an from our collection. Although it does not have the same level of decorative detail as the Baybar’s Qur’an, it does have many of the same decorative features and a similar large-scale.

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This article is from the free online course:

The Birmingham Qur'an: Its Journey from the Islamic Heartlands

University of Birmingham