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article imageLandmark exhibit featuring pages of enormous Qur'an opens

By Karen Graham     Oct 21, 2016 in World
Books do come in all sizes, from tiny manuscripts that fit into a signet ring or one Qur'an so enormous that it's said a wheelbarrow was needed to carry it.
Two consecutive pages of the huge Qur'an, dated to the 1400s, will be on display along with 60 other priceless and beautiful manuscripts, all with their own intriguing stories, starting Saturday at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C.
The landmark exhibition is the first of its kind in the United States, featuring manuscripts from Herat to Istanbul in "The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts." The exhibition will run from Saturday, October 22 through February 20, 2017.
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi)
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi)
Smithsonian Institution
Most of the Muslim holy books in the exhibition are kept in Istanbul in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi), home to one of the most extensive and impressive collections of Qur'ans in the world, ranging in date from the late 7th century to the early 17th century.
The two huge pages on display each measure 5 feet by 7 feet and have rows of calligraphy standing 8 to 9 inches high. They are on long-term loan from the Smithsonian, according to the Associated press.
One of the two Pages of the enormous Qur an on exhibit    Umar-i Aqta.
One of the two Pages of the enormous Qur'an on exhibit, 'Umar-i Aqta.'
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Simon Rettig, the assistant curator of Islamic Art explains that the passage on display is from a chapter that tells us that “signs of God and evidence of His goodness are all around." It also talks about refuting materialistic views, giving warnings to those who go astray, and encouraging forgiveness.
One passage reads, "If anyone does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; If he does evil, it works against his own soul."
The Holy Quran
The Holy Quran
LordHarris at en.wikipedia
The story behind the giant Qur'an
All of the priceless Qur'ans in the exhibition come with their own story, perhaps only dealing with where they came from or who they originally belonged to, but the giant Qur'an has its own story to tell, and it involves the feared nomadic conqueror, Timur, the ruler of the huge Timurid empire in central Asia until his death in 1404.
When Timur came to power, his one vision was the restoration of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan. and as his armies made conquest after conquest, he legitimized them by relying on Islamic symbols and language, and referred to himself as the "Sword of Islam."
And while his armies are said to have slaughtered 17 million people, about five percent of the world's population at that time, Timur was also a great patron of art and architecture, as well as a devout follower of Islam.
An excellent display of Timurid architecture is the Friday Mosque (Jumah Mosque) in Herat  Afghanist...
An excellent display of Timurid architecture is the Friday Mosque (Jumah Mosque) in Herat, Afghanistan.
koldo hormaza from madrid, españa
As the story goes, wanting a tiny Qur'an, small enough to fit inside a signet ring, Timur found the finished product to be unimpressive artistically. So his calligrapher, Omar Aqta’, gave it another try, this time going for something really impressive to show off his “incredible talent.”
Massumeh Farhad, chief curator at the Sackler and Freer and curator of Islamic art says that while creating a tiny Qur'an required incredible skill on the part of the calligrapher, it was amazing Omar Aqta’ had the “bravery to attempt something like this," referring to the giant pages.
It is said that the finished Qur'an was so large it was carried to the palace in a wheelbarrow. Timur, “a man who loved big things,” was so pleased that he rewarded the calligrapher handsomely, said Farhad.
It is not that unusual for the Qur'an to be broken up, and it is not known if the two pages on display were ever part of a bound manuscript. As it is, there are only about 10 pages left. A British traveler is said to have found the two pages in a mausoleum in eastern Iran in the 19th century.
More about Quran, dated to 1400, Muslim holy book, FreerSackler Gallery, landmark exhibition
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