The Hamid Jafar Qur’an Collection: Highlights of Calligraphy
   Reading 2 min

From 31 October 2022 until 19 March 2023, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation is holding the exhibition titled “Sacred Words, Timeless Calligraphy: Highlights of Exceptional Calligraphy from the Hamid Jafar Qur’an Collection”. Thus, SMA (Sharjah Museums Authority) hopes to raise awareness about the history of Arabic calligraphy and its role in making the international art scene richer.

One has an opportunity to see 50 rare Qur’an manuscripts created over the span of 14 centuries that are on display for the first time. Being a part of the Hamid Jafar Qur’an Collection, these important pieces of Islamic calligraphy and design came from different countries, including China, India, and Spain. 

A manuscript showcasing the Sudani script. Photo: Razmig Bedirian

Among the artifacts featured in the exhibition there are an art piece by female scribe Sharifah Wahidah Yaqutah made in 1844 AD, and a high-page of the Baysunghur Qur’an which dates back to 1400 AD. Prince Ghiyath ud-din Baysunghur was a patron of arts, architecture, and the Persian miniature in Iran, who commissioned a number of works. Besides, he was a well known calligrapher himself.

At the exhibition, visitors can also look at a folio from the incomplete Tashkent Qur’an (also known as the Samarkand Kufic Qur’an) dating back to the 8th-9th century AD. It was written in the territory of modern Iraq in the Kufic script.

A folio from the Tashkent Qur’an. Courtesy of Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation

Hamid Jafar began gathering a collection of the priceless manuscripts more than 40 years ago. This way he wanted to show how Islam unifies the Gulf region and inspires people that belong to many various cultures. The collection’s items let one see the impact of Islamic design and ornamental patterns on manuscripts, architecture, and craftwork of these cultures.

Born in 1947, Baghdad, Hamid Jafar is a founder and a chairman of Sharjah’s Crescent Group of Companies. It is engaged in several commercial ventures. He is a philanthropist who supports higher education and charities for disabled children and cancer treatment. 

Detail of a bifolium from a Quranic manuscript, the early 12th century. Photo: Razmig Bedirian

As an addition to the exhibition “Sacred Words, Timeless Calligraphy: Highlights of Exceptional Calligraphy from the Hamid Jafar Qur’an Collection”, SMA has prepared some activities which promote the role of museums as educational spaces: visitors of all ages are invited to take part in walk-in workshops.

To get more information about the exhibition, please visit its official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting the “Dagger Craftsmanship in the UAE: A Craft of Authenticity and Creativity” exhibition.