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    Sale 7615

    Art of The Islamic And Indian Worlds

    7 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 2

    A KUFIC QUR'AN SECTION

    NEAR EAST OR NORTH AFRICA, 9TH/10TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A KUFIC QUR'AN SECTION
    NEAR EAST OR NORTH AFRICA, 9TH/10TH CENTURY
    Qur'an IV, sura al-nisa', parts of vv. 82-end 83 and parts of 72-74; Qur'an XI, sura hud, parts of 89-91 and 93-95; Qur'an XVII, sura al-isra', parts of 45-47; Qur'an XLI, sura fusilat, parts of 45-47 and 49-53, Arabic manuscript on vellum, 10ff. each with protective fly-leaf, each folio with 6ll. of elegant sepia kufic, diacritics in red and green, a few roundel or rosette gold and polychrome verse markers, one gold medallion with the word khamsun, all folios trimmed and laid down between 19th century gold and polychrome rules and gold floral borders on wide buff borders, some waterstaining, in Qajar green morocco with flap and central stamped medallion and spandrels
    Vellum 6 x 9½in. (15.5 x 24cm.); folio 10 1/8 x 14 3/8in. (25.5 x 36.cm.)


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    The letters forms on this manuscript to an extent recall what François Déroche terms the D group, which is the most varied of the early Abbasid scripts (F. Déroche, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, p. 36). In nature the line is thick and the upstrokes are always perpendicular to the base line. Numbers of sad, dal and fa are treated with oblong elongations that break out the verticality of the upstrokes and the curves of the alif. The lower return of the independent alif is long and tapering with a definite curve and the extremity of the final nun is slightly curved upwards.

    The text is written with red and green dots used for the vocalization and parallel diacritical strokes mark the difference between one letter to another otherwise of an identical shape. On the orthographical aids, as Arthur Arberry notes: 'By the time of the famous al-Khalil bin Ahmad (al-Farahidi, d. circa 786 AD) the full range of signs now still in use had already been perfected; nevertheless the old system, or lack of system, continued in practice for many decades thereafter' (A. J. Arberry, The Koran Illuminated, Dublin, 1967, p. xvii). A gold rosette with coloured dots marks the end of every verse while groups of five verses are marked with a gold kufic ha, following the abjad system in use to count the verses.

    Quranic folios seem to follow strict geometrical formulae that determine proportions of each leaf. Déroche notes that 'the number of lines of the page and the height of the script is strictly controlled' (op. cit., p. 21). Ours has a text area of 9 in. wide (23 cm), exactly as a very similar six-line Qur'an in the Khalili Collection, also from the D group, and attributed to the 9th century (no. KFQ67, F. Déroche, op. cit., p. 68, fig. 20). The present does not have any visible marks of guidelines although the calligrapher must have used a ruling. Nevertheless, the overall impression given by these folios, particularly the verses 49-53 of the sura fussilat, is of a perfect mastery of the balance between elongations, crescent-shaped curves and upstrokes.

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