chapter  14
7 Pages

Al-Ma’mun’s Blue Koran?

ByJonathan M. Bloom

Magnificent single leaves from a Koran written in gold kufic on deep blue vellum and attributed to the patronage of the ‘Abbasid caliph al-Ma’mun, who supposedly ordered the manuscript for the tomb of his father, Harun al-Rashid, at Mashhad, have been turning up in the West since the beginning of the century. That exhibition included a page of a “nearly complete” blue Koran manuscript from the National Institute of Art and Archaeology in Tunis. A page from a kufic Koran in the Freer Gallery was decorated with blue outside the reserve panels surrounding dark ink letters, and a leaf in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was prepared in red. As the Fatimids are known to have had blue Korans written in gold and as the manuscript was produced in the Maghrib, an early Fatimid date before the move to Egypt in 358/969 seems likely.