The Qurʾān Manuscripts in the Al-Biruni Institute of Oriental Studies, Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan. An Overview

in Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
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This article provides a short survey of the avenues of research opened up by the study of the Qurʾān manuscripts in the Al-Biruni Institute in Tashkent, the largest public collection of Islamic manuscripts in Central Asia. The author, who is preparing a catalogue of the Qurʾāns held by the Institute, gives a succinct overview of the history and the organization of the collections. The research perspectives outlined by the author concern the shorter versions of the Qurʾāns made for talismanic and devotional purposes (haftiyak and panj sūra), the everyday use of common manuscripts, illuminations in the luxury manuscripts and particularities of the bindings. If properly pursued, these leads will provide insights into many aspects of the culture of book making in Central Asia in the pre-modern period.


  • Figure 1

    Beginning of sūrat al-Kahf (Qurʾān 18) in a Qurʾān with an interlinear Persian translation. Possibly from the nineteenth century. MS Tashkent, Al-Biruni Institute, No. 4155, ff. 208v–209r.

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  • Figure 2

    Front board of a Central-Asian full-leather binding with blind tooled and gilded ornaments, with two stamps in which the binder is mentioned: ʿAmal-e Ḥātim Khwāja Ṣaḥḥāf. MS Tashkent, Al-Biruni Institute, No. 5314.

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  • Figure 3

    Beginning of sūrat al-Zumar (Qurʾān 39) in a Qurʾān with an interlinear Persian translation, and marginal decoration (verse counting?). Fragment or part of a multi-volume copy, possibly from the fifteenth century. MS Tashkent, Al-Biruni Institute, No. 724, ff. 13v–14r.

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  • Figure 4

    Illuminated double opening page of a Qurʾān, possibly copied on the Indian subcontinent, possibly from the nineteenth century. Use of pale green and orange. MS Tashkent, Al-Biruni Institute, No. D 3178, ff. 1v–2r.

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