The Calligraphy of Qurans



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Art 103 - Response Paper 2










The Calligraphy of Qurans

As a Muslim, there is nothing more sacred and beloved than Quran, it is what keeps us closer to God. In this response paper, I will be discussing the Quran of ibn-Bawwab and Amajur, as well as discussing the similarities and differences. The reason why I found it interesting is for how the two Qurans could be the same yet have different calligraphies and format. The reason why I choose this topic is because there is nothing more, I would want than to feel like I’m connected to god and Qur’an is what makes me feel that way.

Ibn Al Bawwab, also known as Ali Ibn-Hilal was a talented Arab calligrapher who wrote the Quran and named it Quran of Ibn al-Bawwab. He is said to have known the Quran by heart. The Quran was written in the year 1000-1001AD, and it was made in Iraq, Baghdad. This Quran is said to be the most famous Quran. This Quran is known for its Islamic calligraphy. The Quran is now displayed in The Chester Beatty Library. The size of the dimension is 17.7 x 13.7 cm. The material of the book is made out of colored pigments and is written in gold on paper. The color of the outer book is dark red. The texture of the paper is shown to have a brown tint to it like they had that period. They used dark brown ink to produce papers to look like this. In the pages of the Quran there are 15 lines in each page, there are also diacritics in the folio. It is known to be the earliest known Quran in Naskh script, and it is fully illuminated. Ibn al-Bawwab developed a system where each letter is measured by its height and weight in dots. The first two chapters of the Quran has an illuminated heading, the beginning of the other chapters specifies by a line of gold thuluth script with the title of the chapter and the number of verses it contains. The manuscript includes five double pages of illumination. Naskh was used for the text and thuluth was used for the headings. The sura headings are illuminated. The sunflower that is displayed on the pages are the number of outlines inside the book.

Amajur Al Turki, the creator of the Amajur Quran was created before the year 264 AH. The Amajur Quran was made in Damascus. It is now displayed in the library of the University of Cambridge. The size of the book is 12.3 x 18.9 cm. The Quran was written in Arabic. In each page of the Quran there are 3 lines to the page where the sura is written in. The color of the book on the outside is the color green. The material of paper that they used for the Quran is parchment. This caught on is an oblong manuscript. at the end of every other page, you can see “Awaqafa Amajur” written in Arabic. “A waqf is the inalienable property of a religious institution” (George, 2003). The Quran has at least 251 folios that have survived. The words are written in thick brown strokes. “The space between letters within words is as large as that between words” (George, 2003). is there writing can be hard to understand since the three lines on the page only contains a few amount of letters and not a full word, it can be hard to understand by someone who does not know the Quran by heart. This shows that these early manuscripts were only written for the educated readers. There are no diacritics in the folios of the Amajur Quran. The color that is used to write the letters is brown, the colors that are used to identify where the dots are, is in red and green. The Quran revealed a geometric dimension of early Arabic calligraphy that has not been noticed before. After the Quran unleashed the geometric dimension, it has shown that the calligraphy is symmetrical.

There are many similarities and differences between Ibn al-Bawwab Quran and Amajur Quran. For starters, the differences between these two is that the colors of the outdoor hard cover and the writings are different colors. the pen that was used to write the sura’s are also different. the material of the paper is different, we can see that in the Amajur Quran the paper that is being the pigments are also different. another difference that should be stated is the lines. In the Quran of Ibn al-Bawwab, there are 15 lines in every page. In the Amajur Quran, there are three lines in every page. The Quran of Ibn al-Bawwab was created in Iraq, the Amajur Quran was created in Syria. Moving on to the similarities, one obvious statement of how they are similar is that they are both written in Arabic. another statement would be is that they are both placed in libraries, yet different libraries. Both of the Quran’s are used in a parchment material paper. Both of the coupons include calligraphies. the colors of the outdoor book cover maybe a difference, yet we can still consider it a similarity because they are both colored. they both have Islamic writings written all over the Quran, as well as both of the Quran’s mentions a sura. Another similarity would be that they both include a sunflower shape where the page number of the outlines are displayed in.

To restate what has been previously said before, both of the Quran’s are very similar yet different. The reason why I would say they are very different is the Quran of Ibn al-Bawwab is said to be the most famous Quran of all times, and the Amajur Quran is not stated as that. The Quran of Ibn al-Bawwab is much more creative and has much more meaning towards it. For starters, we can see that it has more pigments, it seems to stand out more, it also has many lines in one page. As for the Amajur Quran, it only has three lines each page, and there are very few colors used. Ibn al-Bawwab is said to be one of Islam’s greatest calligraphers, and the Quran he created was said to be the only genuine manuscript by him in existence. It was reported that he has written 64 Quran’s and only one of his Quran’s remain in the present time. Both Qurans’ are very well detailed and put well.

Work Cited


Sanchez, Ignacio. “Islamic Manuscripts : Al-Qurʼān.” Cambridge Digital Library, 1992, cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-ADD-01116/1#.

George, Alain Fouad. “The Geometry of the Qur'an of Amajur: A Preliminary Study of Proportion in Early Arabic Calligraphy.” Muqarnas, vol. 20, 2003, pp. 1–15. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1523324. Accessed 8 July 2020.


The Ibn Al-Bawwab Qur'an - Discover Islamic Art - Virtual Museum, 2021, islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object%3BEPM%3Bir%3BMus21%3B5%3Ben.
Department of Islamic Art. “Calligraphy in Islamic Art.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cali/hd_cali.htm (October 2001)
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