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Title: Qur'ans from the Eastern Islamic world between the 4th/10th and 6th/12th centuries
Author: Karame, Alya
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 0009
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis identifies and studies Qur’ans produced in the eastern Islamic world between the 4th/10th and 6th/12th centuries. The period coincides with major transformations in the environment of Qur’an production: the replacement of “Kufic” with newer types of scripts; the use of paper instead of parchment as a writing material; and the introduction of the vertical format, which gradually replaced the old horizontal format of Qur’an manuscripts. It was during this period that the Seljuqs and Ghaznavids rose to power alongside other local dynasties in the eastern Islamic world following the breakdown of the Abbasid Empire in the 4th/10th century. The boundaries between these different empires, however, did not prevent the mobility of craftsmen to, from and within Greater Iran. The extant Qur’ans from this period point to a shared visual vocabulary due to the fluidity of borders and the mobility of motifs. Yet, within this common language, local trends emerged defying unified dynastic or regional labels. The similarities and differences in Qur’ans produced in Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Jazira, Khurasan and Transoxiana attest to this idea. At the turn of the 5th/11th century, new scripts were being stylised while the illumination was in continuity with past traditions. Qur’ans that survive from Greater Iran, Baghdad and Cairo, studied in the first and second chapters, point to local manners of script and illumination stylisation. Some of their epigraphic and decorative forms find parallels on architecture, pottery, and coins pointing to the travel of motifs not only across geographic boundaries but also across artistic fields. The third chapter identifies a group of Qur’ans copied in the first half of the 5th/11th century in Nishapur and hence represent a local style of Qur’an production. Imperial Ghaznavid and Ghurid Qur’ans copied between the second half of the 5th/11th century and the 6th/12th century, studied in the fourth and fifth chapters, exemplify trends of Qur’anic script and illumination in Khurasan. The aesthetic of the Ghaznavid Qur’ans is rooted in earlier traditions with links to Baghdad and Nishapur while that of the Ghurid Qur’ans appear in continuity with the Ghaznavid yet with new features. Their visual vocabulary resonates with the local eclectic style of architectural decoration and the ceramics, metalwork, coins and silk produced in Greater Iran. A section of the fourth chapter investigates the work of al-warrāq al-ghaznawī (the Warrāq from Ghazna), a recurrent title in the colophons of Ghaznavid Qur’ans that points to a collaborative work environment, and offers insights into the production of these Qur’ans. Based on similarities with the Ghaznavid and Ghurid corpus, additional Qur’ans are attributed to Khurasan and Transoxiana in the sixth chapter. Their visual languages also draw from Qur’anic and non-Qur’anic artistic productions of Khurasan and largely that of Greater Iran. Finally, Qur’ans copied in the 6th/12th century in the Central Islamic lands appear to be mutually related and further apart from those produced in Khurasan yet with visible links. The seventh and eighth chapters examine the aesthetic diversity in Qur’ans produced in Iran. Iraq, the Jazira and Syria. Their distinct features point to local stylisation of script and illumination that was shaped from the fluidity of motifs throughout the Mashriq.
Supervisor: George, Alain ; Pulliam, Heather Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Qur’ans ; scripts ; local trends ; illumination ; Ghaznavid ; Ghurid ; Khurasan ; Transoxiana