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Collection of old Quranic Manuscripts

Ma‘ili manuscript from 1st century AH

 

This is an example of what is thought to be one of the earliest styles of Quran copying. Dated to the first Islamic century, this manuscript is written in the "ma‘ili" or "slanting" script. This particular example has no vowel markers but does include dots below and above letters to distinguish them from from one another. Located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

 

Kufi Manuscripts from second century AH

 

 

 

These two manuscripts are written in the Kufic script called "al-mishaq al-mujud" and are dated to the second Islamic century. Both of these are on parchment. The writing is in black ink with red used for short vowels. The fatha is indicated by a superscript dot to the right of the letter, and two perpendicular dots to incidate fatha tanwin. A dot under the letter indicates kasrah with two dots for kasrah tanwin. The damma is indicated by one or two dots to the left of the letter. Located in the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

Kufi manuscripts on vellum from 3rd century AH

 

 

 

These two manuscripts exhibit the Kufic script written on vellum. They are dated to the 3rd Islamic century and thought to have been produced in North Africa. Note the coloured dots in the first manuscript to distinguish the letters. The second example shows an elaborate example of the marking between surahs, here done in gold. Both are located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

Complete Kufi manuscript dated to 393 AH

 

This is regarded as the earliest complete, dated Quran manuscript. It is written in the Kufic script and dated to 393 AH which is approximately 1002 CE. Scholars have not identified any other complete, dated Quran manuscripts written in the Kufic script. Located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

Yaquti manuscript dated 681 AH

 

 

This Quran manuscript is written in the Yaquti script by the well-known calligrapher Yaqut al-Musta'simi (d. 697 AH). The manuscript is from Baghdad and is dated to the end of the seventh century AH. Located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

Naskh manuscript dated to the 7th century AH

This manuscript is a complete copy of the Quran writtenin the "al-Mustasimi" style on paper sized 32x7 cm. in black, red and gold ink. Each page is divided into three sections, the sections separated from each other by a line of big-sized letters. The vowels are in black ink and the recitation marks are in red ink. The gold is used for divisions between verses. Located in the Islamic University in Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mamluk manuscript from the seventh century AH

 

This Mamluk Quran is written in a flowing Thuluth script. These first two pages, featuring the first surah and the beginning of the second surah feature the verses surrounded by a filling illumination and framed by gold. Located in the National Library of Tunisia, Tunis.

Quran frontpiece from Mosul dated to 710 AH

 

Thuluth manuscript dated to 8th century AH

This manuscript was copied by Shaykh Hamdullah al-Amasi (d. 1520 CE), the tutor of the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II. Shown is the first surah and the beginning of the second surah with the rich decoration common in Ottoman manuscripts.

Naskh and Thuluth manuscript dated to the 8th century AH

This copy of the Quran is written in black and consists of 405 pages with 11 lines on each page. The first page has the verses surrounded by clouds, flowers, and other plants. The surah headings are in block kufic script. Throughout the verses are separated by circles decorated with gold, red, and blue. Located at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Bihari manuscript dated to the 8th century AD

This copy of the Quran consists of 246 pages sized 49.5x31 cm. with 15 lines to each page. Most of the script is written in black except for the word "Allah" which is in red ink throughout. Note also the exegetical comments in the margins taking the form of abstract geometrical designs. The "bihari" script is said to resemble a sword or a ship. Located in the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Naskh manuscript dated to 800 AH

The first pages of this manuscript, dated to the last month of the year 800 AH and attribtued to Shaykh Radha Muhammad. Note the rich illumination and decorative verse separations. This manuscript is 42.5x31 cm. The consonants and vowels are written in black ink while the recitation marks are in red ink. Located in the Islamic University of Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Thuluth manuscript dated to 950 AH

 

The first surah and beginning of the second surah from this copy of the Quran written in black and red ink is on 26x16 cm. paper. The names of all the surahs are written inside of red rectangles. Located in the Central Library, Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Andalusian manuscript from 4th century AH

 

This folio is from an Andalusian copy of the Quran consisting of only eight pieces of paper. The text is copied in black while the short vowels are indicated in blue and red. Green is used for the long "a" vowel of the maddah. Located in the King Fahad National Library, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Bihari manuscript dated to the 11th century AH

Written in a larger size Bihari script with black ink, this manuscript is 32.5x20 cm. with 13 lines on each page and a total of 898 pages. It is written on Indian paper made of jute. Red ink is used to write the word "Allah" each time it appears. The manuscript is missing the beginning of the Quran until verse 156 of surah al-Nisa. Located in the King Fahad National Library. 

Maghrabi manuscript dated to the 11-12th centuries AH

Written in black and red ink on 22x17 cm. paper. Each page has 15 lines. It is void of decoration except for geometrial forms drawn inside circles and squares. The names of the surahs are simply written directly before the verses, as in the example below. Located in the Central Library of the Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 

Naskh manuscript with Taliq in margins, dated to 1123 AH

 

This manuscript consists of 532 pages with 12 lines on each page. It was copied by Muhammad Salah b. Tukl al-Shahdi. The Arabic text is in black ink with interlinear Persian translation in red ink. Commentary is written in Persian, in the Taliq script, with black ink in the margins with the Quranic citations in red ink. Located in the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Below is the first page of the same manuscript showing the first surah of the Quran. Commentary is written in the margins and on the facing page in Persian framed by flowered illumination.

 

Naskh daqiq manuscript dated to the 12th century AH

This manuscript is copied in "fine" Naskh or "Naskh daqiq" script. Each page has 41 lines of text. Framing each page are golden designs, and some pages also include drawing of plants and flowers in blue, black, yellow, and red. This copy is bound in cardboard covered with leather and dark brown wax. Located in the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Diwani Jali manuscript from the Ottoman period

This is section five of the Quran in the Diwani-Jali script common in the Ottoman period. Note the thick writing style in which the blank spaces between the letters are filled with stylized vowels and recitation marks. Located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

 

Andalusian manuscript from the 6th century AH

 

This copy of the Quran is on paper, sized 29x25 cm. It is written in a brown and red Andalusian script. Note the careful attention to recitation marks, vowelling, verse divisions, and surah divisions. Located in the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 

Sini or "Chinese" manuscript dated to the 12th century AH

 

Section nine from this Arabic manuscript written in the "Chinese" style script. This manuscript has 49 folios and is dated to 11th century AH China. Located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

Thuluth manuscript dated to the 13th century AH

 

This Quran manuscript is written in a fine thuluth script on semi-transparent paper sized 17.2x24.1 cm. Note that the page is not illustrated with illuminations. Located in the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Maghrabi manuscript dated to the 13th century AH

This is the first surah from this 13th century AH manuscript written in the Maghrabi script. Note that all the verses are transcribed in the space of the oval seeming to represent an eye-ball. The copy is on paper sized 11.7x11 cm. Located in the Mosque Library of the Prophet Muhammad's Mosque in Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Quran roll written in Nastaliq script dated to the 12th century AH

This "rolled" Quran is 350 cm. in length and 7 cm. wide, written in black ink inside a frame of varied decorative geometrical forms. Some of these forms resemble bottles, lamps, or abstract circular forms. The roll was tabulated with yellow tabs marked with black ink. Located in the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Quran shirt from Mughal empire

This "Quran shirt" also called a "Quran jama" is from Mughal India, approximately the 10th century AH. Such shirts were worn under armor and were though to protect the wearer from harm. Located in the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait.

Reproduced from www.usna.edu

The Sana'a manuscripts

Highlights : The Kufi Masq script

Script : Kufi Masq

Dimension : 16 x 33 cm

Copying date : 1st/2nd centuries

Surah name : Surat al-Isra

Verses number : From 20 to 22 and part of 23

The script is Kufi Masq without letter pointing but contains diacritics. It is clear that the copyist put in place of the tanwin two dotes under the letter.He used a ten verses indicator formed of a simple geometrical unit surrounded by simple floral/foliar ornaments. He also wrote the number of the verses in a simple ornamented frame on the side of the page.

Highlights : Vowel signs

Script : Eastern Kufi

Dimension : 15 x 13 cm

Copying date : 6th century

Surah name : Surat al Maida

Verses number : part of 60 to 61 and part of 62


This fragment is an example which shows the high level reached by Arabic script. There is harmony among the script, the verse divisions, the ten verses indicators and other figures in a way that the whole fragment became a single integrated masterpiece. The copyist wrote he number of verses on the right side of the fragment inside a floral ornamented figure.

Highlights : Integrated ornaments

Script : Kufi Masahif

Dimension : 32 x 24 cm

Copying date : 2nd / 3rd centuries

Surah name : Surat al-Nas

Verses number : part of 3 to the end of the surah


A fragment of an end of the Quran. Itillustrates the harmonious interconnection between the geometrical and
floral/foliar ornamentation which was extremely well done. The green,deep blue and golden colors were used.

Highlights : Surah division with geometric ornaments

Script : Kufi Masahif

Dimension : 22 x 31 cm

Copying date : 2nd / 3rd centuries

Surat name : Surat al-Maeda. Surat al-Anam

Verses number : part of 117 (Surat al Maeda) to part

of 1 of surat al-Anam.



The surah divisions are impressive in this fragment. The basic unit in these figures are the rectangle, the circle and the floral/foliar ornaments. There is also a figure that seems to be a ten verse indicator after verse 118.

Highlights : The Italic kufi script

Script : Italic Kufi
Dimension : 50 x 36 cm
Copying date : 1st / 2nd centuries
Surah name : Surat al Kahf
Verses number : Part of 17 to 27 and part of 28

The script leans a little to the right.
There is a ten verses indicator in
the fragment and another figure that resembles it after verse number
(20). The
letter points are in the form of short strokes in the location of the
letters.

Highlights : Ten verse indicator - circular figure

Script : Kufi Masahif
Dimension : 16 x 36 cm
Copying date : 1st / 2nd century
Surah name : Surat al Mumtahina
Verses number : Part of 4 to 8 and part of 9

There is some elongation in some letters, and the copyist has written the Hamza of the letter Alif as a green circle either above it, below it or on its right side.

Highlights : Ten verse indicator - circular figure

Script : Kufi Masahif
Dimension : 14x21 CM
Copying date : 2nd / 3rd Centuries
Surah name : Surat al Baqara
Verses number : part of 80 to part of 81
This fragment is written in normal Kufi script that is well known for the writing of Quran in the first three centuries of the Higrah. There are no verses divisions but there is a gilded ten verses indicator.

Highlights : Five verse division - Ornamented letter Ha

Script : Kufi Masahif
Dimension : 27 x 37 CM
Copying date : 2nd / 3rd Centuries
Surah name : Surat al Mursalat
Verses number : 5 to 26 and part of 27

These fragments show high artistic skills represented in the Surah divisions, due to the integration of the foliar/floral units forming them. This is also clear in the frames surrounding the verses and the gilded ten verses indicators. No letter points exist in these fragments.

Highlights : Letter pointings - short strokes

Script : Kufi Masahif
Dimension : 39 x 36 CM
Copying date : 2nd Century
Surah name : Surat al Tawba, surat Yunus
Verses number : part of 129 from surat al Tawba to 3
and part of 4 from surat Yunus

Letter pointing in the form of short
strokes are used in this manuscript.
Surah divisions are ornamented with colored foliar/floral ornaments and
surrounded by a colored frame.
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