The development of the qur'anic calligraphy and illumination under the Mamlukes, 1300-1376 and in Iraq and Iran in the same period
The purpose of this study is to trace the development of Qur'anio
illumination and calligraphy under the Mamlukes from the earliest
known Qur'an of 1304 down to and including the reign of Sultan Al-
Aabräf ' Shaoban , 1363-1376.. when the finest manuscripts of the
period were made. As this phenomenon needs to be set in context
vis-a-vis not only what was happening in Egypt prior to 1363 , but
also developments in Iraq and Iran whose manuscripts are believed ';.
to have had a major influence
' those areas are also examined in detail.
The initial introduction surveys the development of the Qur'an
as a work of art down to the beginning of the Mamluke period'", to
place Mainluke 9 Iranian and Iraqi manuscripts in proper historical
perspective. Existing literature is surveyed and a statemnt of
problems facing the student presented.
Chapter One deals with Cairo up to 1330. Most of the manuscripts
examined are the work of a team of craftsmen of whom we first become
aware as the producers of the Qur'an of Baybars al-Jäshankir in the
British Library , which in many ways may be regarded as the key
manuscript of the period. The careers of the calligrapher Ibn al-
Wahid and the illuminators are studied on the basis of: i) their
known works; ii) works attributable to them : iii) historical
The Second and Third CUpters examine what, was happening in Iraq
and Iran from 1304 to 1316 and study in detail the four great
Qur'anic masterpieces of ths*century s three made for Oljaytu
in Baghdad 9 Mosul and Hamadan '
and one probiably commissioned by his predecessor, Ghäzän. The careers of the calligraphers
and illuminators involved in these Qur'ans is surveyed here
y and in all subsequent chapters on the basis of i, ii and iii
in the previous chapter. At the end of Chapter Two relations
between Cairo and Iraq during the early years of the century
are studied and evidence produced to show that painters familiar
with developments in Baghdad were in Egypt several
decades before the appearance of the Hamadan Qurtan 9 to which
suoh importance is usually attatched.
Chapter e. `greats Iran and deals with the problem of the
Hamadan Qur'an , relating it to contemporary manuscripts made
, explaining how it came to Cairo and examining
what effect it had there. In the same chapter another closely
connected fragment is studied : the only surviving juxt from
a Qur'an made for Rashid al-Din ' probably at the Rabc-i Rash3dT.
Chapter Four traces developments in Egypt and Syria from 1320
to 1356 and concentrates s* two different categories of manuscript.
First those copied and we believe illuminated by Ahmad al-Mutatabbib
in Cairo around 1330. The location is given in several colophons.
These aanusoripts demonstrate the decline of the Sandal tradition
in Cairo (he being the master illuminator of the Baybare Qur'an).
This CM be contrasted with the situation in Damecus Where, ke
believe,, an, in porrtant Qur'an was copied and illuminated at the
and of the fo th decade. 'In previous chapters we 'have 'dried to
assemble, "info i` on Syrian calligraphers and artists prior
to 1340 , though this is difficult due to the absence of manuscripts
of unquestionable Syrian proven oe. In the same chapter
two problem Qur' ane by calligraphers s of "the school of Yq ,t are dealt `tirithý One Was apparl tly copied in Cairo in 1344 ' while
the other was certainly there in 1356. We believe that it can
be shown that the first is genuine and adds a new fact to the
sparse biography of the calligrapher I Mubärak-Shäh al-Suyüfi.
In Chapter Five Iran and Iraq during roughly the same period
are studied. Four major series of manuscripts are examined to
show what was happening in those areas. Perhaps the most imp. -
octant is that made by Yaby al-Sif in Shiraz in 1344-5 which
Domains tul ' and virtually complete, documentation. We also
deal with atiö er Vpro"blemv group : manuscripts with Turkic
inter-linear translations. These we attempt to show all date
from the fourteenth century 9 though whether of Anatolian
Azerbeyjani I or perhaps Central Asian origin,, is unclear.
Chapters Six and Seven examine the Qurans of Sultan Sha°bän
0 his mother Khwand Barakah and several of his amirs. These
can de divided into three groups, I consists of minor works.
II comprises several closely related manuscripts rightly regarded
as a 'classic' Mamluke type. The calligraphy and especially
the illumination of this group is studied in detail to show that
its origins ( the illumination at least ) lie-, in earlier Mate
work. Group III is entirely different. It consists of those
manuscripts illuminated by Ibrähim al-Amid!. This outstanding
painter is the illuminator of Cairo National Library Ws 10 s
a fact we know from his own colophon. However, so unique and
distinct is his style that it is possible to at-tribute a number
of Qur'ans to his hand, An attempt to define exwtly the nature
of his style is made and traced through several manuscripts. We
believe that it can be e xn that the painter was trained in din
Iraq and Western Iran , where he worked for it time before coming
to Cairo in the thirteen-sixties. The illumination produced by him
marks the culmination of the Iranian/Iraqi tradition in Cairo : one
which makes its appearance in the earliest Mamluke Qur'an of
All the inscriptions found in these manuscripts have been fully
translated. The originals ' Figs 1-31 are located in an appendix
at the end along with such important biographical information as
we have been able to uncover in printed and manuscript sources. The
thesis is accompanied by a portfolio of photographs to illustrate all