Prayers North African Western Sudan c 1900 (5)

Catalog Number 26559
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A leaf from an African Prayer Book (Dala'il al-Khayrat), Nigeria or Western Sudan, early 20th century on paper (175 x 115 mm.). There are five lines to the page of black ifriqi script, with some important words in maroon, with maroon vowels and green and yellow markers, with some pages containing polychrome marginalia, medallions, carpet designs resembling tribal rugs. Verso: five lines to the page of black ifriqi script. The colophon names the scribe, Muhammad al-Thani bin al-Haaj Muhammad al-Murham. Condition of this leaf is Fine [F].

The script of this manuscript appears to be based on a less cursive, heavier and more angular primitive version of maghrebi, identified by some commentators as ifriqi, which was to prove over time less popular than the more elegant and cursive hand generally identified as maghrebi. The script used in the 20th century is rare a sought after by many collectiors.

The Dala'il al-kharyrat ('Sings of blessings') is a celebrated collection of prayers, widely disseminated throughout the Islamic world. This leaf is a fine example of Sub-Saharan prayer book production, containing elaborate bold illumination and calligraphic flourishes. Two Korans with similar, although more retrained decoration are in the Khalili collection, illustrated in M. Bayani, A. Contadini and T. Stanely, The Decorated Word, Oxford 1999, items 6 and 7 pp. 35-39.

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