• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7843

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    13 April 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 206

    ABU AL-FAZL HUBAYSH BIN IBRAHIM AL-MUNAJJIM AL-TIFLISI (C. 1203 AD): TWO TREATISES ON ASTRONOMY

    FROM THE LIBRARY OF SULTAN BAYEZID II, SIGNED DARWISH SALAMI BIN MUHAMMAD, CONSTANTINOPLE, DATED 7 JUMADA II AH 884/27 JULY 1479 AD

    Price Realised  

    ABU AL-FAZL HUBAYSH BIN IBRAHIM AL-MUNAJJIM AL-TIFLISI (C. 1203 AD): TWO TREATISES ON ASTRONOMY
    FROM THE LIBRARY OF SULTAN BAYEZID II, SIGNED DARWISH SALAMI BIN MUHAMMAD, CONSTANTINOPLE, DATED 7 JUMADA II AH 884/27 JULY 1479 AD
    Comprising Kitab madkhal al-nujum and Kitab usul al-malahim fi ahkam al-nujum, Turkish manuscript on paper, 203ff. as numbered plus 4 modern fly-leaves, each folio with 15ll. of black ta'liq within gold and blue rules, two illuminated headpieces, illuminated opening bifolio with central gold almond-shape medallions surrounded by gold tendrils and illuminated spandrels, titles in gold ta'liq, importants words in red, numerous tables with the names of stars and zodiac in red and gold, with two diagrams, one depicting the zodiac, the other an eclipse, second treatise more simply illuminated, colophon placed, dated and signed, with Sultan Bayezid II's writing giving the treatises' titles on each of the first folios, his seal's impression also to the first and last folio, wormholing, repairs, otherwise clean, in modern brown morocco binding
    Text panel 6¼ x 3 7/8in. (15.8 x 9.8cm.); folio 8 7/8 x 6¼in. (22.6 x 16cm.)


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    The imperial provenance of this manuscript is attested by the seal of Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512) stamped twice on the first and last folios. The imperial library was systematically catalogued under Bayezid and most of the manuscripts known to have been in the library bear his stamps. The first folios of the two treatises comprised in the manuscript furthermore have an inscription in riqa' giving the titles of each work. This hand is thought possibly to be that of Bayezid II. The inscription on the first folio has been sadly trimmed when the manuscript was rebound. Another manuscript, published by Julian Raby and Zeren Tanindi, (Julian Raby and Zeren Tanindi, Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, London, 1993, no.83, p.102) has an additional important inscription stating that the note was done in 'the noble hand of Sultan Bayezid'. If this identification is correct then there can be no doubt that this manuscript too, holds an identification inscription done by the Sultan, indicating his involvement of the cataloguing and organising of his library (Raby and Tanindi, op. cit., 1993, p. 101). Two rare manuscripts, prepared for Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, and sold in these Rooms, 8 October 2008, lots 375 and 376, also bear an identification inscription in the same hand attributable to Sultan Bayezid II.


    Abu al-Fazl Hubaysh bin Ibrahim al-Tiflisi is the author of the Kifayat al-tibb, a medical encyclopaedia for which the "nickname" al-muttatabib (the doctor) was added to his name. For the present which deals with astronomy however, the epithet of al-munajjim (the astrologer) has been added to his name. Usul al-Malahim, one of the two works included in this manuscript, is a treatise on prognostics to be drawn from eclipses, storms and other phenomena according to their appearance in the solar year. Another copy of this treatise is in the British Museum (Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, London, 1883, vol.II, Add.23,568, II).

    The gold and polychrome illuminated headings of the two treatises are remarkable examples of the Ottoman style of book illumination in the 1460s. The highlighting of some rosettes in white and the openness of the design are characteristics of this style which can be seen on another manuscript prepared for Sultan Mehmed II, dated circa 1465, in the Suleymaniye Library in Istanbul (Julian Raby and Zeren Tanindi, op.cit., p.146-7). The decoration of the doublures of a binding made by Sheikh Hamdullah for Sultan Mehmed II, circa 1475-80, in the Topkapi Palace Library, can also be paralleled to the illuminated panels in our manuscript (Julian Raby and Zeren Tanindi, op.cit., p.68).

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