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Identification and Creation

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

Physical Descriptions

Watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard (covers) Ink, gold, and colors on paper (text)
21.2 × 13.8 × 2.3 cm (8 3/8 × 5 7/16 × 7/8 in.)
Text area: 16.9 × 9.5 cm (6 5/8 × 3 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription:
    Cover (exterior, front and back):

    راقمه الضعیف ابومحمد الشریف

    فی محرم سنه ۱۱۹۹

    The work of the feeble Abu Muhammad al-Sharif
    In Muharram, the year 1199 (November-December 1784)


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.

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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The manuscript opens with two facing illuminated pages marked by cartouches in the center and filled with inscriptions in Arabic about the Qur'an. The surrounding areas are decorated with large floral motifs. The actual text pages of the Qur'an follow. These pages are illuminated with exquisite colorful compositions filled with minute motifs, extending well into the margins. The following text pages are copied in naskh script with 19 lines of text on gold ground on each page. The chapter headings are indicated with gold letters over blue ground. The last page of the Qur'an and the following prayer, ending with the colophon are written in the same fashion but the margins are illuminated as well. According to the colophon the manuscript was copied in Ramadan 1198 (July-August 1784) by Ibn Muhammad Salih al-Lu'lu'i al-Isfahani Muhammad Hashim.

The lacquer binding is decorated with a rose spray on a tan ground on the outside. The cover is signed by the artist Abu Muhammad al-Sharif and dated Muharram 1199 (November-December 1784), which is half a year later than the copying. The inner faces of the binding have central fields with medallion and pendants, filled with Qur'anic verses (80:77-80, 88, and 109) written in gold letters on a black ground. A Persian poem by the eighteenth-century poet Sulayman Ṣabaḥi Bidguli (d. ca. 1213 AH/1799-1800) is inscribed in border cartouches. Written in riqa’ script, the poem is in the qit’a format, with 20 couplets. The poem reveals that the patron of the codex was Abd al-Razzaq Khan, governor of Kashan under the Zand dynasty. The poem praises the patron and the calligrapher.

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. 91, ill.; p. 92, cat. 1

Verification Level

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