Say, if the seas were ink

Gallnut ink, historical pigments and gold leaf on paper. 32x48cm. Made in the style of classic Abbasid Qur’ans of the late 9th-10th c. AD.

Date8 March 2022

قل لو كان البحر مدادا لكلمٰت ربي لنفد البحر قبل أن تنفد كلمٰت ربي ولو جئنا بمثله مددا

Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement. (Surat al-Kahf 18:109)

How could I resist a verse about ink? As starting point to this historical series, this aya was chosen to represent the seminal style of Manuscript Kufi below, which I consider to be the “high classic” of its different iterations.

Two different types of gold are used in the finished marker: gold leaf for the knot, and shell gold painted and burnished for the smaller details. The writing inside is actually numerals, referring to the verse.

A penny for your thoughts...