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    Sale 7715

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    31 March 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 101



    Price Realised  


    Comprising sura XLIX, al-Hujarat, part of v. 12, manuscript on buff paper, a line of bold flowing black muhaqqaq with black vowelling and diacritics, punctuation in red, slight fading and creasing, trimmed, mounted
    7¼ x 37¼in. (18.5 x 94.7cm.)

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    There is a tendency to attribute leaves from this Qur'an to Baysunghur (1397-1434 AD), grandson of Timur and son of Shah Rukh. This is based on the associative contemporary evidence of his having written the monumental inscriptions on the Gowharshad Mosque. A Qur'an of such immense size obviously necessitated enormous resources, particularly in terms of paper; each complete folio measured approximately 177 x 101cm. and the complete Qur'an would have required a total of 800 bifolios. While this would have only been available with royal patronage, it seems unlikely that Baysunghur would have had the time to have undertaken a task of this magnitude between his military campaigns, hunting and drinking.

    It is perhaps more likely that it was written under the patronage of Timur by 'Umar Aqta, a famous calligrapher of the time. Qazi Ahmad's sixteenth century treatise on calligraphers mentions a huge Qur'an - each line a cubit long - that was made in Samarqand in the time of Timur by this calligrapher. 'Umar Aqta had tried to astonish Timur by writing a Qur'an so small that it could fit under a signet ring. Finding Timur unmoved 'Umar Aqta went away and wrote a Qur'an of such enormous proportions that it had to be brought to Timur on a cart. This achievement is all the more remarkable as 'Umar Aqta had only one hand (David James, After Timur. Qur'ans of the 15th and 16th Centuries, London, 1992, no.2, pp. 20-21). Qadi Ahmed even mentions that a folio of this copy was 'in possession of Mawlana Malik'indicating that already in the 16th century the manuscript had been, at least partially, split up (Malik al-Daylami, the scribe responsible for copying lot 30, Abolala Soudavar, Art of the Persian Courts, New York, 1992, p. 59).

    Certain sheets have a very slightly weaker calligraphy than others and it is therefore possible that Baysunghur, who was a renowned calligrapher, could have copied some leaves to replace damaged ones.

    Other lines from the Baysunghur Qur'an the Nasser D. Khalili Collection, the Reza 'Abbasi Museum, Astan-i Quds Library, Mashhad; the Gulistan Library, the Malik Library, the Museum of Ancient Iran, and the National Library of Iran, Tehran, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, The Art and History Trust Collection, Washington DC, the David Collection, Copenhagen and in a number of private collections. One line was sold at Sotheby's 8 October 2008, lot 17. A complete page sold in these Rooms, 27 April 2004, lot 22.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that the estimate for this lot should in fact read GBP 50,000 - 70,000.
    This line was formerly sold in these Rooms on 25th November 1985 as lot 105.