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Ornate Quran

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Ottoman dynasty, 16th centuryTurkey

This ornate Quran is a collaboration of several artists. The calligrapher was the highest in rank among them, and has signed his work on the last page. The court of the Ottoman Sultans in 16th century Istanbul employed local and Persian calligraphers, illuminators and miniature painters. Their most important task was the production of illuminated manuscripts, that is to say manuscripts embellished with colourful ornamentation. Most of the illuminated manuscripts were Qurans for Mosques and Madrasa. The first two and final pages of this fantastic example are richly decorated. The titles of the suras are emphasised and the verses are separated with rosettes. The lines and facing pages had to be carefully planned for this design. The writing was accomplished using a quill with black, multicoloured and gold ink. The calligraphy is in Arabic in the al-Nashi style, which is the dialect preferred for the Quran. The text is read from right to left.