Along with his magnificent collection of primarily western printed books
and manuscripts on the history of mathematics and astronomy, David Eugene Smith
gave to Columbia a number of Arabic and Persian manuscripts, including a number
of Qurans and Quran fragments. This third volume of the Quran, from a set of
thirty, is similar to volumes from the later Abbasid period in the Iranian-Iraqi
tradition such as the eleventh-century Quran manuscript by Ibn al-Bawwab in the
Chester Beatty Library, dated 1marc001.
The Persian interlinear translation is in a version of naskh script
and appears in clusters of words and phrases, hanging at a forty-degree angle
beneath the corresponding Arabic phrase. The muhaqqaq, used for the
Arabic lines, was a favored script for the large Qurans of the 14th and15th
centuries. Here, the majestic muhaqqaq, outlined in gold, allows only
three lines per borderless page. In a reversal, the vocalizations are marked in
gold that is highlighted by black. Other aids to pronunciation are marked in
blue ink. The dots of the letters are black, nearly perfect circles. The text is
punctuated with roundel verse endings illuminated in gold, brown and blue.
Larger versions of these mark the end of every tenth verse, as well as the
points of prostration, in the wide margins. An illuminated teardrop-shaped
roundel in the margin also marks every fifth verse.