WASHINGTON – Books come in all sizes, but one 15th century Quran was so enormous, it's said that a wheelbarrow was needed to carry it.
Two consecutive pages of this Quran will be on display during the show "The Art of the Qur'an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts," which opens Saturday at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The sprawling pages, each measuring 5 feet by 7 feet, with rows of calligraphy standing 8 to 9 inches high, date from about 1400.
Like many items in the exhibit focused on the Muslim holy book, curator Massumeh Farhad says these pages come with a story. This one involves the feared nomadic conqueror, Timur, who ruled a huge empire based in central Asia.
As the story goes, Timur was unimpressed when presented with a Quran so small that it fit inside a signet ring. So calligrapher Omar Aqta' tried again, creating this giant Quran and so pleasing Timur that he was rewarded handsomely.