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Illuminated Incipit with Headpiece for Chapter 19

18th Century Qur’an in Maghribi Script

This manuscript, Walters W.568, is a fragment of the Qur’an, consisting of chapters 19 (Surat Maryam) through 23 (Surat al-mu’minun).

Illuminated Timurid copy of the Qur’an

A large-format, illuminated Timurid copy of the Qur’an is believed to have been produced in Northern India in the 9th century AH/AD 15th.

Tile with the Great Mosque of Mecca

Tile with the Great Mosque of Mecca

The three lines of Arabic writing in the upper part of this large, ceramic wall tile are from the third chapter of the Qur’an, and exhort the Muslim faithful to make the pilgrimage…

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Calligraphy on Islamic Coins

Introduction Western coinages in the Hellenistic tradition are praised for the beauty of their images complementing perfectly the circular space. The art of the portrait flowered in particular in the Hellenistic world, the…

Workers embroider the Kiswa

The Making of Kiswa

Throughout Islamic history, it has been considered a great honor to be able to perform a service to the Ka`bah, in the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. One of these services, performed by both…

A SAFAVID SILK, WOOL AND METAL-THREAD PRAYER RUG

A Safavid Silk and Wool Rug

  The inscriptions on this rug suggest that it may have been a diplomatic gift from the Safavid Persian court to that of the Ottoman Turks. Perhaps it was even given on the occasion…

AN IZNIK POLYCHROME POTTERY DISH, TURKEY, CIRCA 1575

Iznik Pottery (16th Century)

This Turkish dish is one of the finest examples of Iznik ceramics anywhere. Painted with a masterful flourish, both delicate and striking, it features one of the earliest known combinations of flora and…

AN ELEGANT ASTROLABE MATER AND PLATES ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE PROLIFIC HÂJJÎ 'ALÎ, ISFAHAN

Decorative Astrolabes and Compass

Close to 20 astrolabes, all virtually identical in appearance, are known from the hand of Hâjjî ‘Alî, who seems to be identical with ‘Alî ibn Sâdiq Qummî. They date from the period around 1780-1800, although…

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Arms and Armour Collection

A GOLD-OVERLAID WATERED-STEEL SHIELD, PERSIA, EARLY 19TH CENTURY of domed circular form with four applied bosses with gold overlaid decoration at the outer ring, comprising wholly of cusped cartouches filled with animal motifs…

Manuscript of a Sulawesi Qur’an.

The Qur’an

As the word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the verses of the Qur’an are canonical and cannot be changed. Because of the centrality of the Qur’an to the religion of Islam, copying all or some of its verses in any medium is considered a pious act. Over time a wide variety of styles of writing Arabic script developed, but not all of these were considered appropriate for copying Qur’ans. Qur’an manuscripts from the first two centuries of Islam were written on parchment in an angular style called Kufic after the Iraqi city of Kufa, an early Muslim capital.

Chinese "swatow" dish.

Chinese ‘swatow’ dish

Coarsely potted and covered with a thick, crackled glaze, this dish belongs to a distinct group of porcelain, the so-called ‘Swatow wares’. Swatow is a Dutch mistranslation of Shantou, the port from which…

Kitab-i Bahriye

Kitab-i Bahriye (Book of the Sea)

Originally composed in 932 AH / 1525 CE and dedicated to Sultan Süleyman I (“The Magnificent”), this great work by Piri Reis (d. 962 AH / 1555 CE) on navigation was later revised and expanded. The present manuscript, made mostly in the late 11th century AH / 17th CE, is based on the later expanded version and has approximately 240 exquisitely executed maps and portolan charts.

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