Quran Box

UnknownFirst half 14th century

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

This square wooden box clad in sheet bronze is designed to hold a thirty-volume copy of the Quran. Its bevelled lid is fitted with the original hinge and a lock. The principal decoration is the large Quranic inscription in the Mamluk Thuluth script that runs around the box. This is the 'Throne Verse' (Sura 2:255), and it is highlighted with silver and gold inlay, now missing in some places. The box is bordered below and on the lower edge of the lid with similar professions of faith in smaller Naskhi script, inlaid in gold (Sura 3:26ff. and 59:23ff.; the 'Light Verse' of Sura 24:35, followed by Sura 85:21ff.). Verses concerning the revealed nature of the Quran also inlaid in gold, appear on the sloping surface of the lid in Kufic script (Sura 26:192-199) and on the top in small Naskhi script (Sura 56:76-89 and 92-95). A central medallion displays the words 'And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly' (Sura 6:115). The letters and words of the inscription wind about the surface in exquisitely inventive calligraphy, though not all the words fit within the bronze panels. The fine scrolling tendrils with peonies and buds integrate striking Asian motifs into the traditional, geometric structure of the design. The piece is signed on the lock at the front by Muhammad ibn Sunqur al-Bagdadi, the inlaid work by al-Hadj Yusuf ibn al-Ghawabi.


  • Title: Quran Box
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: First half 14th century
  • Location: Egypt
  • Physical Dimensions: w42.5 x h27 cm
  • Type: Quran Box
  • Medium: Bronze on wood carcass, inlaid silver and gold
  • Inv. no.: I. 886
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-814517
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jürgen Liepe || Text © Scala Publishers / Museum für Islamische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Claus-Peter Haase
  • Collection: Museum für Islamische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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