Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
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Early Korans are often horizontal in format and their shape responds to the natural flow of the kufic script that calls for long horizontal strokes. Other characteristics are the generous spaces between words and letters that lend the script a measured rhythm. In this folio, the red dots above and below the letters indicate diacritics, while the medallion in the margin signifies a text division. Such markers also enhance the visual beauty of the overall folio. The verse is from the end of the second sura (chapter) of the Koran, known as al-Buqara (The Cow).

Folio from a Koran
North Africa or Near East, 9th–10th century
Ink, color, and gold on parchment
24.5 x 33.0 cm.
Purchase F1937.6

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