MATERIAL: Lithography
TYPE: Book
COMPONENTS: 12°, [608 pp.]; margins of opening double pages with fine coloring in polychrome and gold; gold decoration in surah headings; polychrome marginal medallions, sporadic marginal annotations in red ink; original brown goat binding with a flap and gold tooling; accompanied with an original goat leather slipcase with gold tooling and decorated paper on the inner side.
CONDITION: Long narrow worm hole in the front lose endpaper; shaped around the flap of the binding; internally clean with only minor age-toning and sporadic staining; one page with a tiny crack in the margin and last page with tiny cracks in the gilt; binding slightly rubbed with a worm hole on the spine and on the surface of the cover; slipcase little rubbed with small cracks and tiny pieces of material missing.
ITEM ID: 5727
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Ottoman Lithographic Qur’an

A beautiful Ottoman lithographed Qur’an with hand-coloured details, imitating the appearance of traditional manuscripts.

The first lithographic press in Istanbul was founded by a Frenchmen Henri Cayol, in 1831, and was in the Islamic Worlds possibly preceded only by the Bulaq and Calcutta presses. The first books printed by Cayol were exclusively of military nature and the later ones, made by his second printing shop, were of more commercial nature.

Religious texts adopted the technique of lithography only slowly and with skepticism, as stone printing was considered cheap and prone to printing errors. One should also not underestimate long Islamic tradition of calligraphy and the pride of scribes, who produced unique manuscript details and illuminations.

We could not find the exact date of the first lithographed religious text in the Ottoman Empire nor in Istanbul, but the first smaller texts, mostly in shape of pocket talismans and calendars started appearing in the early 1840s (for example an Ottoman pocket calendar scroll, printed by Mekteb-i Fünûn-ı Harbiye Matbaası in 1841 and held at the Bavarian state library (A.or. 5789)). Late 1840s and 1850s welcomed the first lithographed pocket books with collections of prayers, most popular probably being Delâil ül-hayrât (Delail-i Hayrat, Dala’il al-Khayrat) by Muhammad al-Jazuli. These booklets were mostly sold to pilgrims as more affordable versions in comparison to expensive manuscripts. Following the tradition, the texts were often decorated with hand-painted floral ornaments and gilt details.

The first Qur’an in the Ottoman Empire was not lithographed until 1304 Rumi (1887 or 1888), when the stone printed version of the holy text based on the manuscript of Hâfız Osmân was produced under a strict supervision of the sultan on the premises of the imperial palace. The Qur’an was same as older lithographed texts heavily ornated with traditional manuscript decoration and gilt.

Our example of the Qur’an is a handsome, richly decorated example of an Ottoman lithographed Qur’an, combined with traditional illuminator’s art.