al-Qurán (the Koran)
Ottoman Empire (Turkey), 2nd half of the 16th century - beginning of the 17th century (?)
glossy paper, 250×160 mm, contemporary binding, outer covers: brown leather decorated with gilt blind embossing with a plant motif filling in a central medallion and with ornaments in the corners; inside covers: wine-red leather decorated with a central medallion made of cut leather rendered in gold, brown and black colour on blue background; the decoration is completed with gilt ornaments in the corners, Olomouc Archbishopric, acquired 1664–1695, Kroměříž Archdiocesan Museum, inv. no. RKP 21111, sign. O/c VII 27
This expensively decorated manuscript of the Koran is one of the remarkable works of oriental book painting. It is written in the at-tult hand. The opening sura (Al-Fátiha) is written in a richly decorated frame filled with ornaments containing motifs of vases, plant tendrils and blossoms, all painted with astonishing care and a sense for fine detail. On the blue background multi-coloured flowers bloom, their fragile beauty emphasized by gilding in three shades of gold. Even between gold plates a contrast is achieved due to the difference between the gloss and matte surfaces. The outer side of the frame is decorated with a very fine flowery ornament in two shades of blue. The numbers of the individual suras are written in the page margins in gilt flowers of different shapes. All texts are placed in gilt frames, individual verses are separated with gilt flowers and the introductions to the suras are decorated with very fine plant or ornamental motifs. Individual motifs are not repeated, each of them is unique in its beauty and precision. An ex-libris is glued onto the front endpaper - the emblem of the Olomouc bishop Karl II. Liechtenstein (1664-1695). Thus we may presume that either he bought the Koran himself or through the foundation of the Kroměříž chateau library he established. The manuscript was probably renovated after it was acquired - the back of the binding was replaced and later a back endpaper was attached containing the contents of the manuscript. On the front endpaper the text "Alláh / abú-ná Jacqúb" (God / our father Jacob) is written, probably a reference to an Islamic cleric called Jacob.