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Ink, gold, and colors on paper
Sheet: 28 x 17.4 cm (11 x 6 7/8 in.); Text area: 8.4 x 6.4 cm (3 5/16 x 2 1/2 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1924.746.1.b
The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. In the view of orthodox Muslims, it is the literal word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632) in the Arabic language, and thus, recorded in the Arabic script. Because of its association with the divine word, Arabic calligraphy came to be a supreme art form in the Islamic world. As the quintessential symbol of the culture, it became a pervasive decorative element in Islamic art and architecture. Although secondary to calligraphy, a splendid tradition of illumination—that is, ornamentation with colors and gold—developed to enhance the pages of the Qur'an. Because of the prestige associated with the book arts in the Islamic world, the decorative motifs employed by illuminators (scrolling vines, blossoms, lozenges, and cartouches) found their way into other art forms, for example, metalwork, textiles, and carpets.
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