Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

  • Monday, September 26, 2016 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion
Sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Please join us next Monday, September 26th, for this semester's next meeting of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts. We will convene at our usual time and place: 5:15pm in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

We will be welcoming our own Renata Holod (History of Art, Penn) for a talk entitled “On the Biography of One Manuscript: A 12th c. Qur'an Copy in the Penn Museum Collections”

Renata writes:

This presentation will discuss the project of studying one manuscript in the UPMAA collections, Penn Museum NEP27. Its finispiece states that the volume was copied and gilded in Hamadhan, Iran by the scribe (al-kātib) Mahmūd ibn al-Husayn al-Kirmānī in H559/1164 CE. Between the time of its copying and the time of its donation as a pious foundation (waqf) by Amīr Ahmad Jāwīsh (d. 1786) to al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, the manuscript underwent many changes and vicissitudes, including corrections to a different reading(s) of the text, complex repairs of the front matter, rebinding, etc.


This project has been able to study many, if not all, aspects of this book, a Qur'an copy: from its paper(s), ink(s) and pigments to its mise-en-page, paleography, verse markers and heading design, and interlinear commentary(ies). Within the context of the study of Qur’an manuscripts, scrutinizing certain features typically deemed as supplementary to the sacred words (such as repairs or interlinear gloss) can contribute more broadly to the question of how any Qur’an copy was encountered, engaged with, and staged as a text over time, a subject that certainly merits further research.

Renata Holod is College of Women Class of 1963 Term Professor in the Humanities, History of Art Department, and Curator, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has carried out archeological and architectural fieldwork in Syria, Iran, Morocco, Turkey, Central Asia, Tunisia, and Ukraine. She is co-author and co-editor of City in the Desert (1978); Architecture and Community: Building in the Islamic World Today, Aperture, New York (1983); The Mosque and the Modern World (1997); An Island Through Time: Jerba Studies (2009) and The City in the Islamic World (2008).