On Original and “Originals”: The “Copy” of the Tashkent Qurʾān Codex in the Rare Collection Books at the Butler Library

In: Philological Encounters
Avinoam Shalem Riggio Professor of the History of the Arts of Islam, Columbia University, Department of Art History and Archaeology New York, NY USA

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In 1905, Dr. S. Pissareff from St. Petersburg was involved in the production of 50 copies of an earlier Qurʾān codex. The original, namely the Qurʾān codex first discovered to western gaze around the mid 19th century, held in the Khoja Akhrar mosque in Samarqand, is a large-sized Qurʾānic manuscript written in Kufic on parchment with hardly any use of punctuation or vowel marks. This codex has been traditionally regarded as the muṣḥaf of ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān, the third caliph (murdered in 656), and was said to have been brought from Iraq by Timur. This essay presents the ‘Pissareff copy’ kept at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University, discusses its specific status as residing in the grey zone between reproduction and copy, and aims at setting it in the larger context of ‘copies’ of Qurʾān codices.

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