The Koran, God’s ipsissima verba for Muslims, is today a text that continues to be memorized, written (in some parts of the world) and recited. In early Islam, the Koranic text was transmitted orally. Although the very origins of the written
record, probably during Muhammad’s lifetime, escape us, manuscript transmission can look back on a long history that began in the second half of the seventh century. The study of the initial phase of this history began in the nineteenth century, but research on it has been increasing in recent years, examining the essential role that manuscripts played at an early date in
the transmission of the koranic text and its variant readings, but also in its canonization. These studies have highlighted the fluidity of the text an its circulation and have broadened the documentary field to include other media such as graffiti and inscriptions whose testimony can be confronted with the vulgate. From an early date, the Koranic manuscript went beyond its initial functions of preservation and transmission and found itself invested with other roles, the study of which has only just begun. The birth of calligraphy under the Umayyads and the introduction of illumination in the copies of the Koran at the same time answered to new needs, those of the rulers, for example, who used the impression produced by princely manuscripts for their own purposes, and those of the faithful who found in refined copies the visual expression of their
religious convictions. The Symposium will be an opportunity to compare the current state of research on the different aspects of the Koranic manuscript through the centuries.