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    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 275


    MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1680-1720

    Price Realised  


    MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1680-1720
    To the beginning of Sura Maryam, Arabic manuscript on gold speckled paper, 288ff. plus 14 fly-leaves, each folio with 9ll. of large black naskh with interlinear Persian translation in red nasta'liq, catchwords, gold and polychrome rosette verse markers, each text panel laid down between gold and polychrome margins on a wide outer border with gold lattice and flowerhead motif, sura headings in blue on extremely delicate gold and polychrome illumianted panels, marginal cusped medallions marking different parts of each juz', the opening bifolio with fine gold and polychrome illumination, very minor repairs, in later red morocco
    Text panel 10 5/8 x 6½in. (27 x 16.4cm.); folio 18½ x 12½in. (47 x 31.8cm.)

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    The size and intricacy of this Qur'an almost certainly indicate a Royal Mughal commission. The calligraphy and illumination is extremely elegant, beautifully set against the exquisitely and meticulously illuminated margins which are a most impressive aspect of this magnificent volume. A Qur'an in the Khalili Collection attributed to Hyderabad in the first half of the 18th century has conceptually similar margins on every page, with repeating gold lotus scrolls (Manijeh Bayani, Anna Contandi and Tim Stanley, The Decorated Word, London, 1999, no. 67, pp. 206-07). The present example however is conceived on a bigger and grander scale throughout.

    The floral lattice of our borders relates closely to folios from the Warren Hastings album, formerly in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillips Bt (1792-1872), and later broken up and sold at Sotheby's 27 November, 1974. Two folios from this manuscript were sold recently in these Rooms, 26 April 2005, lots 227 and 228). Another similar gold margin floral border is found in lot 260 in this sale, a Bikaner miniature dated circa 1680.

    In many features the fine illuminated opening bifolio of this Qur'an resembles closely that of two bifolios in the Kevorkian Album commissioned by the Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan (The Emperor's Album, New York, 1987, nos. 2 and 3, pp. 82-85 and nos. 6 and 7, pp. 90-93). The panels immediately above and to the side of the text are almost identical in layout and decorative vocabulary, including the cloud bands and flowerheads. This indicates strongly that our manuscript was produced in the royal Mughal kitabkhane.

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