Decorated Text Page

Object Details


Decorated Text Page




North African


Possibly Kairouan, Tunisia (Place created)


9th century


Pen and ink, gold paint, and tempera colors on parchment


Leaf: 14.4 × 20.8 cm (5 11/16 × 8 3/16 in.)

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The graceful, arabesque lines drawn here are Kufic script-an early, angular way of writing Arabic. The words, outlined in black and filled in with gold leaf, are read from right to left. Gold text was reserved for the earliest written portions of the Koran, which convey only the consonants of spoken Arabic and thus can be interpreted in various ways. The blue and red dots on the page indicate vowel sounds, while the accent marks distinguish consonants of the same basic form. These additions ensure a single interpretation-a particular concern among Koran scholars at the time this manuscript was produced. The number of characters, words, and verses is an important aspect of the Koran. Verse counts are included in rosettes placed within the page's outer margin, as seen here in the lower right-hand corner.

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