The J. Paul Getty Museum

Fragmentary Qur'an

Object Details


Fragmentary Qur'an




North African


probably Tunisia (Place Created)


9th century


Pen and ink, gold paint, and tempera colors

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig X 1 (83.MM.118)

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Object Description

This is an illuminated copy of the Koran, Islam's sacred text, which contains revelations recited by the prophet Muhammad (died 632) to the people of Mecca and Medina. Because figurative art is not used in an Islamic religious context, this manuscript relies largely on the decorative properties of Arabic writing for its aesthetic effect.

Islamic texts such as this, and other objects with Arabic script, were admired in Europe for their distinctiveness and beautiful design. Artisans were inspired to create similar calligraphic patterns on glassware and ceramics. Other Islamic designs that were copied in the West include: knot work, scales, arabesques, medallions, dots, and commalike forms. The portability of many works of art, such as this book, facilitated this influence, as these objects could be carried from the Near East to Northern Africa, Spain, and Italy.

19th century

Possibly Sultan Mahmud II, Turkish, 1785 - 1839

by 1964

Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988
Source: Catalogue 107: A Selection of Rare Books and Manuscripts (New York, 1964 (?)), no. 1]


Dr. Peter Ludwig, German, 1925 - 1996 and Irene Ludwig, German, 1927 - 2010, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on the Italian Renaissance (May 4 to September 5, 2004) (leaf 4; plus fragments of a Qur'an)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 4 to September 4, 2004
Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts (January 22 to June 26, 2016) (fols. 9 - 4v; fols. 10 - 9v)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 22 to June 26, 2016
Pathways to Paradise: Medieval India and Europe (May 1 to August 5, 2018) (bifolium 2 and 4)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to August 5, 2018
Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art (November 19, 2019 to February 16, 2020)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 19, 2019 to February 16, 2020

von Euw, Anton, and Joachim M. Plotzek. Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig. 4 vols. (Cologne: Schnütgen-Museum, 1979-1985), vol. 3 (1982), pp. 15-18.

"Manuscript Acquisitions: The Ludwig Collection." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 12, 1984, p. 295.

Keene, Bryan C., and Morgan Conger. "Sentieri per il Paradiso: Percorsi Spirituali tra Europa e India." Alumina 60 (2018), pp. 50-7, pp. 54, 55.

Keene, Bryan C. Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World through Illuminated Manuscripts. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2019, pp. 212.