Koran of Muley Zaidan

Koran of Muley Zaidan

Mosque of the Al-Badi Palace, Marrakech (Morocco) — 1599

A masterpiece of Islamic illumination for Sultan Muley Zaidan: an extraordinary Moroccan manuscript from El Escorial

  1. The Koran named after Sultan Muley Zaidan was commissioned by his father, Sultan Ahmad Al-Mansur (1549–1603)

  2. The manuscript was seized at sea by the Spanish along with the rest of the Sultan's library in 1611

  3. The so-called Mabsut style manuscript is truly exceptional with beautiful calligraphy in red, blue and, gold

Koran of Muley Zaidan

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Koran of Muley Zaidan

The Koran of Muley Zaidan is an Arabic manuscript with a truly exciting and eventful history. Although stored today in the El Escorial Library, it originally came from Morocco. Originating in the year 1599 at the behest of the Moroccan Sultan Ahmad Al-Mansur, the Koran earned its name from his son and successor, Sultan Muley Zaidan. Tragically, his library was seized by the Spanish in 1611 and thus eventually came to El Escorial. The Koran of Muley Zaidan is one of the most outstanding treasures in the famous library of the royal monastery!

Koran of Muley Zaidan

The Koran of Muley Zaidan is an Arabic manuscript with a truly exciting and eventful history. Although stored today in the El Escorial Library, it originally came from Morocco. Originating in the year 1599 at the behest of the Moroccan Sultan Ahmad Al-Mansur, the Koran earned its name from his son and successor, Sultan Muley Zaidan. Tragically, his library was seized by the Spanish in 1611 and thus eventually came to El Escorial. The Koran of Muley Zaidan is one of the most outstanding treasures in the famous library of the royal monastery!

A Magnificent Arabic Manuscript

The famous Arabic manuscript of the Koran of Muley Zaidanimpresses with its splendid design. Rich embellishment is presented all over the 532 pages measuring 27 x 19.5 cm. The so-called Mabsut style manuscript is truly of exceptional quality. Alongside the text written in red and blue – red for the vocal utterances, blue for the shaddah and sukun – gold was also used. The marvelous gold script on a blue background adorns, inter alia, the titles of the Surahs. A few pages are even more elaborately adorned with fantastic ornamentation. Arab and Moorish forms characterize the artistic adornment of the manuscript.

A Commission of the Sultan of Morocco

This gorgeous Koran from El Escorial originally came from Morocco, specifically from the mosque of the Al-Badi Palace. It originated at the behest of Sultan Ahmad Al-Mansur, who ruled as Sultan of Morocco from 1578–1603. The exact date for the formation of the manuscript is recorded in the text. It is recorded on page 264 that work on the Koran of Muley Zaidan was completed on the 13th of the month of Rabi II of the year 1008 according to the Hijri calendar year, so November 2nd, 1599.

Spanish Plunder in El Escorial

After the death of its patron, the magnificent Koran came into the possession of Sultan Muley Zaidan, the son of Al-Mansur and Sultan of Morocco from 1603–1627. Muley Zaidan lent his name to the Koran and measurably shaped the rest of the manuscript’s history. When the Sultan wanted to have his library shipped, the ships were seized by the Spanish. Thus, the entire library of the Sultan of Morocco came to Spain in the year 1611 as plunder, first to Lisbon and finally to El Escorial. There has been a significant collection of Islamic books there ever since, of which the Koran of Muley Zaidan is assuredly the pinnacle.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Koran des Muley Zaidan
Corán de Muley Zaydán
Size / Format
532 pages / 27.0 × 19.5 cm
Origin
Morocco
Date
1599
Language
Illustrations
Richly decorated throughout. Mabsut style, with vocalisation in red, tasdid and sukuns in blue. The especially handsome titles of the suras are written in gold Kufic on a blue ground. Folios 1v, 2r, 264v and 265v are splendidly illuminated with Moorish motifs
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Sultan Muley Zaydan

Available facsimile editions:
Koran of Muley Zaidan – MS 1340 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1996
Detail Picture

Koran of Muley Zaidan

Decorative Colophon

Folio 264 of the manuscript appears to be another elaborate carpet page with a gorgeous floral frame, but closer examination reveals a text written in gold ink against a dark blue background that is adorned with colorful flowers: "executed in the Mosque of the Al-Badi Palace in Marrakech, and finished on the 13th day of the month of Rab'ia in the year 1008 after the Hegira [2nd November 1599], during the reign of Sultan Al-Mansur, father of Muley Zaydan".

Corán de Muley Zaydán
Single Page

Koran of Muley Zaidan

Carpet Page

Although acceptable in secular works, figural depictions were restricted in religious Islamic manuscripts. Muslim artists had to find other ways to express their talent, such as this page from one of the most popular texts in the Islamic world. It resembles the kind of carpet pages common to Insular Illumination but is distinctly Islamic in design.

This page artfully demonstrates the intricate geometric patterns common to Islamic art. Practically glowing with gold leaf, the carpet is painted with blue, orange, yellow, blue, and red. The inner circle is a combination of complex and interplaying patterns culminating in a blue flower in the center and the rest of the composition is strongly influenced by floral motifs as well.

Corán de Muley Zaydán
Facsimile Editions

#1 Corán de Muley Zaydán

Koran of Muley Zaidan – MS 1340 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Koran of Muley Zaidan – MS 1340 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1996
Binding: Hand stitched and bound in white goatskin stamped in gold on both sides. Gilded page edges and gold hardware.
Commentary: 1 volume (44 pages) by María Teresa Ortega Monasterio, José Manuel Ruiz Asencio, and María Josefa de Azcarraga Servet
Language: Spanish
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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