The Blue Qur’an

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Blue Qur’aninfo-icon Folio, 9th-10th century, North Africa, Iraq or Iran

Following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE, it became necessary to compile his Revelation as a written text and to canonise the Qur’aninfo-icon, which had circulated predominantly as an oral text. As a result, there was an invested production of Qur’anic manuscripts, which now demonstrate the diverse and distinguished styles, scripts and decorative elements that developed over time. In the earliest manuscripts, belonging to the 7th century CE, we may observe a vertical folio along with elongated Hijazi Arabic script written with neither vowels nor points to differentiate letters with the same shape. Only few such manuscripts have survived and can be found dispersed amongst museums and collections, such as the Topkapi Saray, Istanbul.

The Blue Qur’an illustrated above is one of the most lavish examples of a 9th /10th century CE manuscript. Commonly attributed to the early Fatimid court, its most prominent features are the indigo-dyed parchment, gold Kufic script and verse markings of silver rosettes. The striking deep blue background on the parchment and words written in contrasting gold ink are unmatched in Qur’anic manuscripts. The unique combination of colours has often been linked to Byzantineinfo-icon documents that employed this colour scheme, along with the inscriptions inside the late 7th century CE Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

While it is estimated that the Blue Qur’an originally consisted of 600 folios, today only approximately 100 of these pages remain, and are dispersed across museums and collections worldwide, including the Raqqadainfo-icon National Museum of Islamic Art, Tunisia, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.

The Blue...