Baghdad: Qurʾan Illuminators

Date: 1301-1307

Muhammad ibn Aybak ibn ʿAbdallah is the illuminator of a manuscript known as the Anonymous Baghdad Qurʾan. The longest colophon, located the thirtieth volumes (singular: juzʾ), states that he worked on the illumination in the “City of Peace, Baghdad.” He used high quality pigment for his polychromatic illuminations. He included an ornate double frontispiece, opening and closing pages, and decorative markers for the each fifth and tenth verse. See also: Paper Maker; Scribel Qurʾan Scribe; Calligrapher.

Citation: James, David. Qurʾāns of the Mamlūks (London: Alexandria Press, 1988), pp. 89-92.


Date: c. 1306-11

A Qurʾan commissioned by the Ilkhanid ruler, Öljaytü (r. 1304-16) was illuminated by Muhammad ibn Aybak. His signature on the manuscript states that he completed his work in Dhū al-Ḥijja 710 (April 1311) in the “City of Peace” (i.e. Baghdad). There are two basic patterns identified by James on the double frontispieces. The first type uses thulth inscriptions above and below a square panel with a central star and crossed lozenge shapes. The second type employs overlapping diamonds, circles, and irregular figures. James categorizes the arabesque scroll backgrounds into three types: sections of green, gold, and white with foliage patterns; a pattern similar to the latter, but with more colours and a finer stem; and a pattern which employs large blossoms on thin stems. See also: Qurʾan Illuminator; Paper Maker; Scribe; Qurʾan Scribe.

Citation: James, David. Qurʾāns of the Mamlūks (London: Alexandria Press, 1988), pp. 96-99.