Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. arab. 1112
The rare and elegant Golden Qur’an is written on gold-coated paper in black Naskhi script, a prestigious cursive style developed in the 10th century. Markings that denote stressed and unstressed syllables indicate it was intended for reading aloud before worshipers. The surah headings and selective color scheme further reflect the scribe’s desire to draw attention to the book’s religious goals. The aniconism, or reluctance to show human figures, that is evident among Islamic sacred art in this era prompted illuminators to focus on striking geometric motifs and dramatic flourishes to enliven the text.
The craft of the medieval book extends far beyond Europe, and despite the tremendous diversity of styles and materials that can be observed across different faith traditions the surviving codices also often reveal points of contact and exchange among their original readers. Until recently the art of the Qur’an – the central sacred text of Islam – was not represented among Pitt’s medieval facsimile collection. This copy of the Golden Qur’an, acquired in the past two years, reflects the growing interest in Islamicate Studies on our campus as well as the emphasis on cross-cultural interactions that has taken root across the field of Medieval Studies.
This manuscript has been fully digitized and is available at the website of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich.