This article reconsiders the origin, both geographical and cultural, of the Blue Koran and suggests a date and place for its production. Through a codicological comparison with a Western manuscript, the Bible of Danila, in which a deep blue parchment and dry-point ruling are employed, it seems possible to establish a link between this Latin precedent and the Blue Koran. A further comparison with a blue manuscript, in Syriac, on paper, provides a parallel for the use of a dyed/coloured writing material. Such practice, well attested to in Greek and Latin manuscript production, can be found in various cultural spheres. My hypothesis is that the commissioner of the Blue Koran—or the artisans working for him—was aware of the existence of the Bible of Danila, and requested this ‘special’ production for his own sacred text.
This article reconsiders the text and the authorship of an anonymous Arabic manuscript containing ink recipes. The text was first published by Eugenio Griffini in 1910, but the ink recipes have only recently attracted scholarly attention. Though the latest contributions on the manuscript consider it lost, it is in fact preserved at the Ambrosiana Library. Attributed to ‘the Sicilian’, an anonymous author, it is possible that it is the work of a 15th-century physician from Tunis. Griffini edited the text, but images of the manuscript are published here for the first time, as well as an English translation and a new edition. For comparison, other ink recipes, from a sixteenth-century manuscript in maghribī script are edited and translated as well.
This article (re-)considers a unique Qurʾān manuscript (MS London, SOAS, 12217) in ciphered characters (Ar. al-taʿmiya), reminiscent of the ring letters of the Graeco-Egyptian tradition (Brillenbuchstaben). The case of this Qurʾān manuscript offers an opportunity to decode (Ar. istikhrāj al-muʿammà) a cryptographed text, to date and localize a very special Quranic codex, and to investigate the history of the collections it passed through, as well as the religious and cultural context of its production. Lastly, it examines the relations between Islam and magic—with which cryptography is often associated.