Golden Koran

Golden Koran Facsimile Edition

Iran or Iraq — 11th century

A golden shining unicum of book art from the famous calligraphy school of Ibn al-Bawwab: the Koran in black Naskhi script on gold coated paper

  1. The Qur’an presented here was written in black naskhi script on gold-coated-paper, a true unicum!

  2. The 11th century manuscript was painstakingly restored to its former glory in Munich during the 1960's

  3. The Qur’an has a number of features that place it in the prestigious calligraphy school of Ibn al-Bawwab (d. 1022)

Golden Koran

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Golden Koran

There are only a few copies of the Qur'an in existence that were produced on a colored writing surface, such as the Blue Qur'an by Kuli or copies of Qur'an pages colored with saffron or purple. The Qur'an presented here, however, is the only copy of its kind in the world: it was written on gold-coated paper in black Naskhi script. This script is based on mathematical calculations from the 10th century and is the reason why the characters appear so distinctively even. Its unit of measurement is the alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. The script was used by two famous calligraphers in the 11th century. Among a number of other features of the Gold Qur'an, it enables its attribution to the renowned calligraphic school of Ibn al-Bawwab (d. 1022).

Golden Koran

So-called because every page of the manuscript is coated with powdered gold, the Golden Koran is an 11th century manuscript originating from Iran or Iraq. Its décor is not only expensive but, represents a unicum of manuscript art and is one of the most coveted Islamic manuscripts in existence. The elegant script of the manuscript was executed in a hand that was no less masterful than those responsible for the geometric patterns and other décor.

184 Shimmering Golden Leaves

Colored writing materials were used only rarely in Qur’an production: a famous exception is the Blue Qur’an in Kufic script, single leaves of which have been auctioned over hundreds of years. Some Qur’an manuscripts were dyed with saffron or crimson. The present Qur’an, which presumably originates from Iraq or Iran, has been written in black Naskhi script on paper and is a unique piece due to its gold-coated paper. Naskhi was standardized as a precisely proportioned cursive script by the calligrapher Ibn Muqla (died 940) in the 10th century. Its unit of scale is the alif, the first letter in the Arabic alphabet, upon which the size of all the other letters is based. The famous calligraphers Ibn al-Bawwab (died 1022) and Yakut Musta’simi (died 1298) also based their work on this mathematical principle.

High-Quality Islamic Art

The fragment of a decorative page at the start of the manuscript displays a geometric pattern consisting of octagons, stars, quatrefoils and script medallions. The Sura headings are framed in blue, white, and reddish brown with Kufic or a cursive script, and decorated with floral and arabesque patterns. The Basmala, which occurs at the start of all the Suras except for the ninth Sura, takes up either all or most of the first line. The title of the Sura is repeated with an indication of the verse number in red ink above the long, extended letter sin in the Basmala. The text is fully vocalized and the verses separated by rosettes. Some of the ornamental work around the edges has been lost because the book block was trimmed for a later binding.

Origins of the Manuscript

The Qur’an features a number of criteria which place it in the school of Ibn al-Bawwab: the unusual arrangement of the first page with two Sura titles, the elongated letter sin in the Basmala, the distribution of the Basmala across almost an entire line, the use of colors which Ibn al-Bawwab had just introduced such as white, brown and crimson red, and black ink, the slight leftward slant of the vertical letters, the dense and yet extremely clear style of writing are characteristic of this school. The quality of this unique codex on gilt paper, which was lavishly restored and hence saved over the course of a year in 1967 at the Institute of Book and Manuscript Restoration, part of the Bavarian State Library, would also correspond to the elevated status of the above-mentioned school of calligraphy.


Alternative Titles
Size / Format
366 pages / 26.0 × 18.0 cm
11th century
Numerous decorations, such as blue and silver rosettes
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Golden Koran – Cod. arab. 1112 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2011
Limited Edition: 480 copies
Detail Picture

Golden Koran

Fragment of a Carpet Page

At the beginning of the manuscript, the fragment of a double-page illumination depicting an elaborate carpet has survived, which was typical of richly decorative Korans originating from central Iraq-Iran during the 11th or 12th centuries when the region was ruled by the Seljuk Turks. Surrounded by an interlace border, the carpet page in red, blue, and gold has a design consisting of floral décor suspended within geometric patterns consisting of circles with initials set within octagons connected to four-pointed compass stars set within quatrefoils.

Der Goldkoran
Single Page

Golden Koran

Folio 44r

Manuscripts with colored backgrounds were as rare in the East as they were in the West and the gilt pages of this manuscript indicates its great importance. It is a masterpiece of calligraphy with a golden background that allows the Nashki script in black ink to really stand out. The chapter headings are written with Kufic script framed in blue, red, white, or black.

The text is fully vocalized and the verses are separated by blue and silver rosettes. Although the pages were trimmed in the 18th century, which resulted in the loss of some of the marginal ornamentation and about half of the palm-shaped “ansae” in the surah headings, the manuscript remains one of the most magnificent testimonials to the art of illuminated Islamic manuscripts.

Der Goldkoran
Facsimile Editions

#1 Der Goldkoran

Limited Edition: 480 copies
Binding: Leather with golden Islamic décor on the cover. Presented with the commentary in a wooden box.
Commentary: 1 volume by Markus Ritter
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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