Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Art of the Qur'an

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Art of the Qur'an

Article excerpt

More than 60 resplendent Qur'ans, celebrated for their elegant calligraphy and magnificent illustration, are on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery through Feb. 20, 2017.

Organized by the Sackler and the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art in collaboration with the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul, the richly illuminated Qur'anic manuscripts, as well as album pages in a variety of scripts, range in date from the 8th to the 17th century and are in an array of styles, formats and sizes.

Overseen by curators Massumeh Farhad and Simon Rettig, these holy books represent the most treasured Islamic art form from the Umayyad and Abbasid Arab caliphates, Iran and Afghanistan during the Seljuk period, the Mongol Il-Khanid dynasty, Mamluk Egypt, and the Safavid Persian and Ottoman empires.

This first major exhibit on the Qur'an in the United States includes treasures endowed by the Ottomans to religious institutions since at least the 1500s. Many of those from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts have never been shown outside of Turkey.

Among the showpieces are three Qur'an folios on gold parchment, probably once part of a 30-volume set from either 10th century Iraq, the Near East or North Africa. …

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