Art Histories Seminar
Thu 13 Jul 2017 | 13:00–15:00

The Biography of an 11th Century Ghaznavid Qur’an: Form, Function and Circulation

Alya Karame (Islamic Art Museum Berlin) in cooperation with the research program “Connecting Art Histories and the Museum” (CAHIM).

Brugsch-Pascha-Saal, Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 2-8, 10117 Berlin

Qur’an with tafsīr, dated 484/1091; Copyright: Topkapı Palace Museum, EH 209, Istanbul.
Qur’an with tafsīr, dated 484/1091; Copyright: Topkapı Palace Museum, EH 209, Istanbul.

This talk uncovers the story of one manuscript from its time of production in the 11th century to its offering as a gift in the 21st century. Originally commissioned by the Ghaznavid Turkish Sultan Ibrāhīm b. Masʿūd (r. 451/1059–492/1099), this multi-volume Qur’an has Persian translation and commentaries, the earliest known to exist. On the formal level, the manuscript is an important example of a local courtly aesthetic.

Its scripts and illumination are highly stylized representing local innovations but also continuities with the past. By contextualizing the manuscript in its milieu of production, the talk does not only approach the Qur’an as an aesthetic object but also investigates its role at the time of its commissioning and the various layers of meanings it gained during its circulation until today. Examining the lives of this one manuscript proposes new ways of narrating the stories of Qur’anic manuscripts in general and widens our methodological understanding of their study.

Alya Karame holds the fellowship Connecting Art Histories in the Museum, and is based at the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin. Alya’s research interests are centered on Qur’anic manuscripts with a focus on the period between the 10th and 12th centuries. She completed her PhD in 2016 in art history at the University of Edinburgh and her MA in History of Art & Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2011. Having been a graphic designer with an interest in visual culture, Alya taught design, visual culture, and art of calligraphy courses since 2007.

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