The skill and artistic virtuosity required to create this exceptional decorative object reflect the importance given by Muslims to applying Qur’anic verses on a broad variety of objects as a constant reminder of their faith and its centrality to their lives. Here, a sweet chestnut leaf is inscribed with a Qur’anic verse from Surat al-Isra’ (“The Night Journey,” Q17:80), which reads: “And say, ‘Lord grant me a good entrance and a goodly exit, and sustain me with Your power.” The calligrapher composed the verse in the form of a boat with the letters forming passengers and oars, perhaps recalling the journey of life. To make this extraordinary leaf, the calligrapher wrote the inscription on the leaf and sealed the writing on both sides with a wax barrier. He then soaked the leaf in an alkaline solution just long enough to dissolve most of the vegetable matter, while leaving the skeleton and the inscription intact. Gold leaf was then applied to the leaf, adding shine, value, and a luxurious effect.
Source: Aga Khan Museum
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