bookporn #23: qur’ans at the V&A, london

I am fond of Qur’ans: those wondrous word-of-god recitations so conscious of themselves as books, so much so that amongst its many beautiful names — al-Qur’an (Recitation), al-Furqan (Discernment), Dhikrallah (Remembrance of God), al-Hikmah and al-Huda (the Wisdom and the Guide), and the one to be intoned sonorously, Kalamallah, word of God — it is known also by its most unadorned title: al-Kitab (The Book), or even Umm al-Kitab (the Archetype Book). Hence fondness. With such beautiful names, it is only fitting that many Qur’ans — the older, preserved ones at least — are almost uncompromisingly magnificent — for how else can the Archetypal Book be but unspeakably splendid? And so time spent ogling them in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is always time well-spent —



especially when one comes across irrefutable proof that Size Does, In Fact, Matter. obviously, book = good, big book = better.

gigantic kitab

(you may get some sense of the size of the book by comparing with my reflection on the glass to the left — click to enlarge).

hothothot! All previous disclaimers vis-a-vis the inappropriateness of associating Holy Books with Unholy Lechery apply.


8 responses to “bookporn #23: qur’ans at the V&A, london

  • Jason Seow Hock Peng

    A non-believer who is appreciative of the Holy Quran. I am, admittedly, impressed.

    • chow yoong

      Hi Jason,

      Were you with CK Cheong & Seow at Menara Uncang Emas? Please let me know your latest address as i have old file with you.

  • Rich

    If you’re going to be in New York before February, your bookporn fetish should be thoroughly sated with the following exhibit:

    The original On The Road scroll, on display. I can testify, it’s pretty cool.

  • Burhan

    Ha! I went to the V&A yesterday, mostly to look at the few Rodins there.

    I really liked the illustrations from the old books from ancient Islamic empires. The British Museum also has old Qurans at the Islamic art section at the back.

    Another London bookporn tip: goto the Freud museum near the Finchley Road tube and oogle at Sigmund and Anna Freud’s libraries.

  • Rachel

    thanks for the tip; I don’t usually get as far out as Finchley, but for a Freud museum trip, anything is possible.

  • Dr Mohammad Osman Khan

    For a keen student/traveller who wishes to learn the presentation of Quranic manuscripts, the Rachel effort is indeed of great value.
    As for myself who lunched in the museum for few years while studying in nearby Imperial College, it is an eye opener that V&A museum is so rich in its collection.
    Well done Rachel.

  • summaiya


  • ijaz akhtar

    I have some old handwriotten Quran for sale for information contact me at

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