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Quran; The Unique Ibn Al-Bawwab Manuscript

Author:
Year: 1983
Publisher: Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt
Category: Website reference service
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Complete Facsimile edition of the earliest surviving Naskhi Qur'an, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, with the commentary volume by David S. Rice, both in English and Arabic. The facsimile and the text volume together in a clamshell box, green cloth with a calf spine. The spine of the clamshell box very lightly sunfaded and a trifle rubbed. The Quran richly decorated in gilt and azure and bound in embossed full morocco. The text volume in original wrappers. Both the Quran and the text volume in a fine condition.

The Qur'an script which gained general acceptance with the turn of the fourth century is the cursive style known as naskhi. The earliest surviving naskhi Qur'an is the Chester Beatty manuscript K. 16 which is dated 391/1000. It is the work of Ali ibn Hilal, better known as Ibn al-Bawwab, who may rightly be called the most illustrious Arab calligrapher. The Chester Beatty Qur'an is also the only extant work of Ibn al-Bawwab and the earliest fully illuminated Arabic manuscript to be discovered so far.

Little is known of the life of Abu-l-Hasan 'Ali ibn Hilal'. We are ignorant of where and when he was born, but he lived mainly at Baghdad. His father, Hilal, had been a doorkeeper (bawwab) and Ali became known as "the Son of the Doorkeeper", Ibn al-Bawwab, and sometimes also as lbn as-Sitri, which has the same connotation. Ali ibn Hilal began his career as a house-decorator (muzawwiq yusawwir ad-dur), then he illuminated books '(sawwara-l-kurub) and finally he took to calligraphy and excelled all those who had preceded him and confounded all those who came after him. He also used to preach at the Mosque of al-Mansur in Baghdad and when the vizier Fakhr al-Mulk, Abu Ghalib Muhammad ibn Khalaf assumed the governorship of that city on behalf of the Buwayhids (in 401/1010), he made lbn al-Bawwab one of his intimates. According to Ali ibn Hilal's own statement he was, for some time, in charge of the library of the Buwayhid Baha'ad-claula in Shiraz. Of Ibn al-Bawwab's personal appearance we know only that he had an unusually long beard. He died in Baghdad in 413/1022 and was buried near the tomb of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. This date, provided by a contemporary authority, Hilal ibn Muhassin as-Sabi (d. 448/1056) is to be preferred to the variant 423/1031 found in a later source. An elegy, of which some verses are preserved, was recited by his grave by the poet al-Murtada. 'Ali ibn Hilal is said to have known the Qur'an by heart and is reported to have copied it sixty-four times.

One of those copies, the Chester Beatty MS K. 16 is reproduced her.

Rare. WorldCat reveals only 9 copies of this complete facsimile edition worldwide. No records in ABPC and only one in
RBH/AE: Sotheby's, their sale of November 1985.


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