Our research associate Alya Karame was granted the Barakat Publication Award in support of her book The Forgotten Qur’ans of the Medieval Eastern Islamic World: The Ghaznavid and Ghurid Dynasties which will be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2023.
The Forgotten Qur’ans of the Medieval Eastern Islamic World focuses on a group of Qur’an manuscripts copied under the Ghaznavids and Ghurids, two dynasties that ruled consecutively in the eastern Iranian world from the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century CE. They were copied in new scripts replacing the old Kufic traditions, on paper, in the vertical format – three seismic changes that started happening from the beginning of the 10th century CE. Based on a thorough study, the book shows that the visual language of these Qur’ans continues and develops traditions that emerged in the Iranian world generally, shaped out of interactions with central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and were still current in later South Asian Sultanate Qur’ans of the 13th century CE. Reinstating the production of these Qur’ans within a transregional artistic network exposes the connections that existed in the medieval eastern Islamic world and reclaims ‘peripheries’ as centres of cultural production. In that sense the book decentralises the artistic agency of the traditional political capitals, notably Baghdad and Cairo, that have previously been considered as the locus of artistic excellency and from which a consistent visual language fanned out. Most interestingly, the book explores the materiality of the Qur'an by highlighting its relation to other artistic productions, such as architecture and ceramics, and by contextualising it within multiple practices, revealing sometimes its shifting roles during its lifetime, and reinstating the people – the maker and the beholder of the manuscript – at the centre of its study.
Ⓒ The David Collection, 5/2004, 26.5 x 19.9 cm.