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The Blue Koran Revisited

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image of Journal of Islamic Manuscripts

The “Blue Koran” is one of the most distinctive copies of the text, copied in 15 lines of an angular gold script on leaves of blue parchment. Leaves from the manuscript have been known to scholars since the early years of the 20th century, but it first came to wide scholarly attention in the 1970s, following the publication of several leaves in such international exhibitions as the Arts of Islam at the Hayward Gallery in London. It was attributed either to ninth-century Iran or Tunisia, where the bulk of the manuscript was said to remain. The present author published several articles on the manuscript, reconstructing it as a set of seven volumes and attributing it on the basis of its abjad numbering system as well as historical evidence to tenth-century Tunisia under Fatimid patronage. In the following decades other scholars have challenged this attribution, suggesting that the manuscript could have been produced in Umayyad Spain, Kalbid Sicily, or even Abbasid Iraq. Considering the additional pages from this manuscript that have come to light in the past decades as well as the significant advances made in the study of Koranic paleography and codicology, it is time to reexamine what is known about the manuscript and see which attribution makes the most sense.

Affiliations: 1: Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA and Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA


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