• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7751

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    6 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 134

    A LARGE SAFAVID QUR'AN WITH QAJAR ILLUMINATION

    ATTRIBUTED TO AHMAD AL-NAYRIZI, SAFAVID IRAN, RABI' I AH 1122/APRIL 1710 AD

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    A LARGE SAFAVID QUR'AN WITH QAJAR ILLUMINATION
    ATTRIBUTED TO AHMAD AL-NAYRIZI, SAFAVID IRAN, RABI' I AH 1122/APRIL 1710 AD
    Arabic manuscript on paper, 406ff. plus 10 fly-leaves, each folio with 12ll. of black naskh in cloud-bands reserved on gold ground, gold and polychrome roundel verse markers, hizb, juz' and sajda markers in red on gold ground within cusped medallions, the text panel within gold and polychrome rules, sura headings in larger red naskh on gold and polychrome illuminated panel, opening bifolio with the list of the sura within a gold and polychrome composition of eight-pointed stars, followed by a bifolio with carpet illumination inscribed with blessings in the central medallions, the bifolio with the Fatiha heavily illuminated, each page with full Qajar illuminated margins in gold and polychrome with outer margins ruled similar to those of the text panels, some pages with richer illumination, the colophon in the name of Ahmad al-Nayrizi and dated Rabi' I AH 1122, possibly a later attribution, the last six folios with prayers, minor smudging in the illumination, very clean copy, in lacquer binding, flaking and scuffing
    Text panel 6 7/8 x 3 7/8in. (17.5 x 10cm.); folio 13¼ x 9¼in. (34 x 23.7cm.)


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    Ahmad Nayrizi (fl. 1682-1722 AD) was born in the town of Nayriz in Fars. His primary master in naskh was Muhammad Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Nasir Qumi, known as Aqa Ibrahim Qumi (fl. 1659-1707 AD). In the late 17th century Nayrizi settled in Isfahan and came to the attention of Shah Sultan Husayn (r. 1694-1722 AD) who became an important patron and by whom Nayrizi was given the honorific surname Sultani. He produced work for royal patrons for almost two decades.

    Combining strength with elegance, Nayrizi's hand, as described by Raby, is 'a confident one, characterized by exceptionally well-formed letters. Its most striking features are its relatively large size and the wide spacing of the lines of text' (Nabil Safwat, The Art of the Pen, The Nasser D. Collection of Islamic Art, London, 1996, p. 212). It is with Ahmad Nayrizi that we find the development of a distinctly Iranian naskh, that went on to be used as the standard Qur'anic hand throughout the 19th century.

    Although a celebrated calligrapher, who commanded significant fees for his work, Nayrizi was also known for his piety and is said to have given most of his money away. He is also said to have used his wealth to go on pilgrimages and is recorded as being in Najaf in 1739. This devout nature perhaps provides some explanation for the number of Qur'ans copied by Nayrizi.

    A striking feature of this Qur'an are the heavily illuminated Qajar borders on every page, added some time after the completion of the Qur'an. They take various forms throughout the Qur'an attesting to the skill and playful nature of the illuminator.

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