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One of the most unique and fascinating components of the scroll is the last part consisting of six sections containing beautiful illustrations of weapons, worldly dangers and, finally, supernatural threats. These drawings are talismanic in function. They are meant to ward off the misfortune related to each event symbolised by the illustration or to conjure the power and spirit of the item illustrated. Talismanic objects and motifs were frequently carried by soldiers on the battlefield, but mostly in the form of either small objects (rings, amulets, Qurʾan cases)24 or as adornment on arms and armor.25 The illustrations depicted on the present scroll seem more rare, though it is not the only scroll of its kind. The illustrated weapons show similarity with the illustrations on another scroll at DAI (LNS 25 MS) as well as with two other illustrated ones which remain unpublished.26 On the one hand, the common features appearing in these scrolls make it evident that there was a template for the creation of these talismanic scrolls.27 The differences between the scrolls indicate on the other hand that they were personalised for their users as well.
In this paper I discussed in detail one talismanic scroll of exquisite execution. There are, however, several similar scrolls, published and unpublished, with which this one can be compared. From my previous research, comparing all of these examples, it has become clear that there is a specific language, decoration and purpose that these talismanic scrolls share. First of all, they have a certain structure and specific details that make them talismanic: the way they address God, the choice of Qurʾanic verses, and the titles of the different sections as well as how they begin and end. It is clear that supplications to God and the use of the Qurʾan empower the scroll. What makes this scroll a talisman, however, in the sense of obtaining its power over worldly and supernatural entities, is the use of specific Qurʾanic verses, the visual elements, the arrangement of the text, and above all, the combination of all the elements.
The additions at the end of our scroll point at its continuing use with subsequent owners who added their own invocations to reinforce or personalise the scroll to fit their own purposes. This part also contains a hint towards the date and provenance of the scroll as the calligraphy and decoration in the last section compares well with Mamluk book art and other paper models. Some of the other scrolls that our scroll can be compared with have, moreover, a more explicit Mamluk origin. It is thus safe to conclude that our scroll was created and used in a Mamluk context. 153554b96e