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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Manuscript of the Qur‘an, with lacquer binding
Work Type
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard (covers) Ink, gold, and colors on paper (text)
18.1 × 11.4 × 3.9 cm (7 1/8 × 4 1/2 × 1 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: The text is signed by Ibn Muhammad Sharif Abu'l-Qasim al-Isfahani and dated 1247 H (1831-32)

    The lacquer cover bears a prayer in Arabic in the form of a poem of seven rhyming couplets. It includes the names of the fourteen infallibles (chahardah ma’sum, i.e. the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, and the twelve imams of twelver Shi’ism), who are invoked to intercede.

    بنبیٍّ عربیٍّ و رسول ٍ مدنیٍ
    و اخیه اسدالله مسمّی بعلی ٍّ
    و بزهراءِ بتول ٍ و باُم ٍّ ولدتهـا
    و بسبطیه و شبلیه هما نجلا زکیٍّ
    و بسجـّاد و بالباقر و الصّادق حقّا
    و بموسی وعلیٍّ و تقیٍّ و نقیٍّ
    و بذی العسکروالحُجّةٍ القائم بالحق
    الّذی یضرب بالسـیف بحکم ازلی
    و علیهم صلواتی و سلامی مأة الفا
    بنهارٍ و لیالٍ و غدوّ و عشـیٍّ
    اجب الآن دعانا و ترحـّم حضرانا
    واقض حاجات لنا الکـُلّ الهی و ولی
    و تقبــّل بقبول حسن ربّ دعانا
    بمحمّـد وعـلی و باولاد عـلی


Recorded Ownership History
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

Ezzat-Malek Soudavar (1913-2014) formed this collection over a period of sixty years. She purchased the works of art on the international art market.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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This Qur'an manuscript opens with double illuminated pages with prayers copied in gold in medallions and pendants in the center. The first text pages containing sura 1 and 2 are also fully illuminated as well as the beginning of each juz. The remaining text pages are copied in 15 lines to a page in naskh script. The Persian translation is written in red ink under each line. The manuscript was copied by Ibn Muhammad Sharif Abu'l-Qasim al-Isfahani in Jumada I 1247 H (November 1831). On the outer covers, the lacquer binding repeats the design of the illumination. A lobed medallion with pendants is set against a field covered with arabesque; the central field is framed by prayers in cartouches arranged as the border. On the inner surface, a lobed medallion with pendants holding mixed flowers is set against a red ground embellished with gold arabesque.

Publication History

  • Massumeh Farhad and Mary McWilliams, ed., A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer, Harvard Art Museums and Freer/Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Cambridge, MA/Washington, D.C., 2017), p. 98, cat. 13

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/17/2017 - 01/07/2018

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at