The codex has also been dated as late as 1020 CE and placed in Córdoba
as well as Qairawan
According to some researchers, the Blue Quran is also one of the only extant Fatimid Qurans.
However, at the moment, the comparison with the Latin Bible of Danila
, preserved at Cava de' Tirreni
(Italy) but produced in Spain, offers a number of material connections (the deep blue parchment, the ruling, and the use of gold ink) rather suggesting a Spanish origin. Even older Quranic manuscripts are the Sana'a manuscript
, Samarkand Kufic Quran
and Topkapi manuscript
It is written in gold and decorated in silver (that has since oxidized
) on vellum
colored with indigo
, a unique aspect of a Quranic manuscript, probably emulating the purple parchment
used for Byzantine
Red ink is also used.
A Maghribi script
Quran manuscript written in gold on blue paper has been dated to the 13th or 14th century, inviting comparison to the Blue Qur'an. The Maghribi manuscript's parchment is a lighter tone than the Blue Quran and is more heavily decorated, having a foliage motif throughout.
Folio from the "Blue" Qur'an, 9th-10th century. Ink, opaque watercolor, silver (now oxidized) and gold on blue-dyed parchment, 11 3/16 x 15 in. (28.4 x 38.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum
The manuscript's approximately 600 pages
were dispersed during the Ottoman period
; today most of it is located in the National Institute of Art and Archaeology Bardo National Museum
, with detached folios in museums worldwide.
These institutions include the Musée de la Civilisation et des Arts Islamiques in Raqqada
, which has 67 folios.
The folios are differently sized: the folio held by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
is 28.25 cm by 37.46 cm,
but there are pages as large as 31 cm by 41 cm.
Most of the folios remained in Qairawan until the 1950s, when they were further dispersed.
In 2012 and 2013, folios from the Blue Quran were sold in major Islamic art auctions, carrying a price of hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. Christie's
of London sold folios in 2012. Sotheby's
auctioned off one folio in 2010 for a reported £529,250, a record-breaking sum and over double the low estimate for the lot.
Two folios are now in the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art
's verses are demarcated in groups of 20 with silver rosettes
and the text itself is inked in gold; the precious metallic text and rich indigo might have been a way for the Fatimid dynasty
, which controlled North Africa at the time, to display its wealth, power, and religion in the face of the Byzantine Empire
, which controlled Anatolia
and used gold or silver ink on purple parchment
for its most lavish manuscripts. The gold ink was created by grinding gold and suspending it in a solution.
The surrounding decoration of the mihrab
of the Great Mosque of Cordoba
is similar to and might have been the model for the Blue Quran's design.
Contemporaneous manuscripts were often written on dyed parchment, particularly saffron
-colored parchment, a holdover from the pre-Islamic time. Though the method by which the Blue Quran was dyed remains unknown, Ibn Badis
related the two contemporaneous methods of dying: dip-dying after the parchment was smoothed, or adding dye during the parchment production process.
Given the brilliance of the color, it is likely that the parchment was dip-dyed before it was cured, impregnating it with the pigment.
The Kufic script has sharp angles and is written in groups of 15 lines per page with no vowel markings
, common characteristics in 9th- and 10th-century Islamic manuscripts.
The comparatively large number of lines on each page deviates from the norm of other contemporaneous Qurans, such as the Amajur Quran
, that dictated three lines per horizontal page.
A column of letters is perceptible on the right side of each folio, created by the insertion of spaces called caesurae
that put single letters at the beginnings of lines.
Words with unconnected letters are occasionally split between lines in the manuscript, another common feature of Qur'ans from this period.
The spacing of the letters has been described as "almost musical" and as "visual rhythm" by Robert Hillenbrand.
Another unusual feature of this manuscript is visible mastara
lines on some pages, used by the calligrapher to place the text.
Controversy of Origin
The exact origin of the Blue Quran still remains hotly debated. Scholars have argued that the Blue Quran has originated in various locations, ranging from Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Spain, to Sicily. These scholars have argued it was possibly created under one of (but not limited to) the following dynasties: Abbasids
, or Kalbids
Frederick R. Martin, a Swedish man, introduced the Blue Quran to the academic community. He claimed that he obtained some of the manuscript's pages in Constantinople
, and that it originated in Mashhad
, Persia. The Blue Quran is connected to Persia through a Persian customs stamp on one its pages, but it is possible only this one page passed through Persia and that it was not necessarily created there.
The horizontal layout of the Blue Quran resembles the luxurious Qurans created during the early Abbasid period, which supports the theory that it was created during the ninth century. If this manuscript was created during or around the Abbasid period, it would be likely that it originated in or around modern day Iraq, since this was the Abbasid's center.
These pieces of evidence support the idea that the Blue Quran was created in the Eastern Islamic world, as opposed to the Western Islamic world.
On the other hand, the Blue Quran was possibly mentioned in the Kairouan library
's catalogue around 1300 CE, so it is likely that the Blue Quran was in Tunisia at that point in time. This does not confirm that it was created in Tunisia though; it could have been transported there though some scholars argue that it is unlikely that a large, important manuscript like this would be carried such a long distance.
The Blue Quran shares many characteristics with the Bible of Cava
(especially its deep blue color), a manuscript created in 812 CE in Spain. These similarities could imply the Bible of Cava and the Blue Quran share their origins in Spain around the ninth century. It is possible that an Umayyad patron or caliph commissioned the Blue Quran in Spain, and this manuscript was actually created by Christians, who have a tradition of writing their sacred texts on dyed parchment. Spain is a lot closer to Tunisia than Persia would have been, so the Blue Quran's transportation to Tunisia would have been easier in this case.
The controversy of the Blue Quran's origin affects scholars even today. For example, even museums cannot agree on how to categorize the Blue Quran. The David Collection categorizes this manuscript under Islamic Art and North Africa,
while the Denver Art Museum categorizes it as Asian Art while still acknowledging it may have origins in North Africa.
This conflicting categorization reflects on how scholars still do not, and may never agree on where the Blue Qur'an really came from.
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Last edited on 5 May 2021, at 15:59
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