(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - A single page from the Blue Quran, a manuscript that holds a place of eminence in the annals of Tunisia’s Islamic cultural heritage, will be sold in an auction in London on April 24th.
The item, taken from a document that has inspired both wonder and controversy, is scheduled to be sold at Christie’s, an international auction house, and has been valued at £150,000 – £250,000 (the equivalent of 360,000 – 600,000 TND).
Though the precise history of the Blue Quran remains a matter of debate among academics, it is commonly speculated that the manuscript was commissioned during the Abbasid era given the style of its composition. The document’s name is attributed to the indigo dye used to color the pages of the book, which are decorated with ornate Kufic calligraphy inscribed in gold paint. In light of the scarcity and cost of these materials, it is assumed by scholars that the document must have been commissioned by none other than the Caliph himself or another prominent official within his court. The Blue Quran was later listed in an inventory compiled in 1293 AD of the library of the Great Mosque in Kairouan, which has lead to the supposition that the manuscript was commissioned in the North African Maghreb.
While the origins of the Blue Quran remain unclear, its contemporary history is no less mysterious. No information exists regarding the whereabouts of the original seven volume set from 1293 until the 20th century, when art collector F.R. Martin allegedly purchased a number of pages of the text in Constantinople. He later sold them in Europe, and in 1977 Christie’s reportedly came into possession of several pages of the manuscript, though it is unknown whether those pages were the same.
In 1967 the manuscript was reportedly moved to the National Library, located in Tunis, before being returned to Kairouan’s Rakkada Museum of Civilization and Islamic Arts in 1983. Since this time, some observers speculate that additional pages of the Quran may have gone missing, were removed, or were stolen during the handling of the Quran.
In February 2011, Mourad Erramah, the curator of the Rakkada Museum in Kariouan, denied allegations that pages from the Blue Quran had been stolen in a statement issued on national television. This claim was promptly challenged by the National Heritage Institute (INP). In a statement to TAP, Ahmed Ferjaoui, a representative from the INP, claimed that a complaint was filed in 2009 detailing the theft of 53 historical documents, among them pages from the Blue Quran.
However, Mourad Erramah remained adamant that all of the artifact’s missing pages were lost prior to 1983, when the Rakkada Museum received the copy of the Quran. “By the end of the 19th century, pages of the Blue Quran were missing. In 1983 we received 59 pages of the Blue Quran, and the number of the pages has not changed until now. No theft has been recorded since 1983… Today there are 55 pages from the Blue quran spread all over the world,” Mourad stated.
“Ahmad Farjaoui is a notorious deceiver,” Mourad concluded.
When asked for comment, the Tunisian Ministry of Culture denied having any knowledge of the theft of the documents or the upcoming auction.