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Sheila S. Blair

Blair, Sheila S.

Blair, Sheila S.

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Sheila S. Blair

This essay examines a dispersed Qurʾan manuscript transcribed at Maragha by ʿAbdallah ibn Ahmad ibn Fadlallah ibn ʿAbd al-Hamid al-Qadi al-Qazwini between Shawwal 738 and Shawwal 739 (April 1338–April 1339). It takes the codex as an exemplar to show first how scriptoria in the Ilkhanid period codified features such as paper size, page format, calligraphic style, and multi-color illumination to rapidly produce so many of these sublime works of art. It then uses the manuscript’s codicology to investigate broader questions such as who commissioned these Qurʾan manuscripts, who were the calligraphers and illuminators that produced them, how were these manuscripts used, how was the court style formulated at the turn of the century under Yaqut al-Mustaʿsimi and his followers disseminated to provincial cities such as Maragha in northwest Iran, and how did these manuscripts in turn serve as models for others made a century later for the Timurids who willfully copied Ilkhanid styles to promote their dynastic legitimacy.