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Timurid (Tamerlane) - Herat

Description: Page from a Timurid Koran (Qur‘an) from Herat (modern Afghanistan). This manuscript is from a Koran scribed shortly after shah Rukh’s reign during a time of political turmoil. It was for private use, being the ideal size for the purpose. Even the best pages have thumb marks from the devout users and most have moisture stains round their edges. The surviving portions are nevertheless very good examples of their type. The chapter headings are in gold on a plain background. the script is naskhi in a firm yet delicate hand, and the paper is of strong linen.
Period: c. 1448 AD
Size: Page size 160x110 mm, Window 123x97 mm


The great Tamerlane (Timur, d. 1406) founded the Timurid dynasty which flourished for a century. Tamerlane sacked the prosperous city of Herat in 1398, yet within two generations it had become the favoured seat of art and literature in the east, based on Islamic principles. Timur’s son shah Rukh (1405-47) was particularly keen on fine calligraphy and commissioned many excellent Korans. His son Ibrahim Sultan became one of the finest calligraphers of the period.

Herat, northwestern Afghanistan, capital of Herat Province, on the Harirud river. Herat is perhaps the most beautiful of Afghanistan's ancient cities. It has been a settlement for over 2,500 years and has been fought over by successive rulers from Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. to Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1749. In the 7th century AD the city was captured by Muslims. The Mongol conqueror Tamerlane made it his capital in 1381, and it subsequently became a centre of Persian art and learning.

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