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Exhibition on restoration of ancient Quran held in National Taiwan Library

  • Date:2023-07-12
Exhibition on restoration of ancient Quran held in National Taiwan Library

An exhibition on the restoration of a 500-year-old handwritten Holy Quran is taking place from July 4 through 28 at National Taiwan Library in New Taipei City. The Quran was presented as a gift to Dharma Master Cheng Yen (證嚴法師), founder of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation in Taiwan, by Faisal Hu (胡光中), a Tzu Chi volunteer based in Turkey.

The Muslim scripture was originally damaged severely before it was repaired. It was hard to read because the book pages were stuck together due to humidity and insect damage. Therefore, Cheng Yen commissioned the Taiwan Book Hospital of the National Taiwan Library to restore the ancient Quran.

With the skillful hands of book restorers from the National Taiwan Library, it took 35 months to complete the restoration of the Islamic holy book, allowing the precious hand-written Quran, which had gone through difficult situations such as wars, floods, and being buried in the earth, to reappear in good condition.

Through the exhibition, the National Taiwan Library hopes to lift the ancient Quran’s veil of mystery and share the valuable restoration experience with the public. Library director Tsao Tsui-ying (曹翠英) stated that the repair work for Islam’s holy texts demonstrates the Book Hospital’s professionalism, stressing that the restoration of the Quran shows respect for the humanistic value and the preservation of ancient books and cultural relics.

This old manuscript was written by at least 10 copyists. It can be reasonably inferred from the observation of the use of different ink recipes. These copyists completed the texts approximately from the 15th to the 16th century, showing their persistence in faith and reverence for doctrine.

The exhibition showcases various challenges during the restoration process of the Quran. Over the course of five centuries, inside the book were suspected bloodstains, soil, flower petals, hair, and plant seeds; the paper suffered a gradual deterioration caused by insects, floods, embrittlement, and mold. The Quran has been repaired to its original appearance by the book restorers of the library. Through this exhibition, the public will have a deeper understanding of the importance of book restoration and document preservation.

(Photo courtesy of the National Taiwan Library)