• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 159



    Price Realised  


    A history of the Prophets, Persian manuscript on buff paper, 249ff. as numbered plus 2 fly-leaves, each folio with 15ll. of black nasta'liq within gold and blue rules, important words and phrases picked out in red, blue or gold, catchwords, 23 miniatures some with areas of flaking or rubbing, some repairs, particularly to the margins, areas of light waterstaining mostly affecting the margins, in brown morocco with central stamped medallion
    Text panel 7½ x 4 7/8in. (18.8 x 12cm.); folio 11 5/8 x 7¼in. (29.5 x 18.6cm.) (23)

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    The miniatures are as follows:

    1. The angel Gabriel unites Adam and Eve after their separation of 200 years following their eating the forbidden fruit
    2. Noah's journey in the Ark
    3. The Prophet Salih bringing forth the she-camel from a rock
    4. Abraham is thrown in the fire by the devil is rescued by the angel Gabriel
    5. The sacrifice of Isma'il
    6. The angel Gabriel lifts the Earth up in the sky with the unbelievers of the tribe of Lot and turns it upside down
    7. Yusif (Joseph) is rescued from the pit
    8. Moses parts the Red Sea to escape the Copts and the Pharaoh's men
    9. Shu'ayb leaves with his followers while those who don't believe in him are put to death by the angel Gabriel
    10. Yunus throws himself into the sea to save his companions
    11. Ayyub's wife Rahma finding him
    12. Dawud (David) comes across his brother's wife bathing and falls in love with her
    13. The angel Gabriel tells David that God has forgiven him for his sins
    14. The Jews cut up the tree and the hidden Zachariah
    15. Zachariah faints at seeing his son Yahya (John) and his lamentation
    16. Alexander comes across the people of Ya'juj and Ma'juj (Gog and Magog)
    17. Alexander and Khidr in the land of darkness
    18. Khidr and Elias producing flour out of weeds and making dough to give to the starving old woman
    19. A King comes across the cave of 'The seven sleepers and their dog' 20. 'Azir (Fsdras) amazed at seeing his ass come to life
    21. Qahhafa's miracle of bringing water to the well
    22. Jesus miracle of bringing the dead to life, in this case Sam, the son of Noah
    23. The Jews murder Yahya (John) and God bursts the Tigris and drowns them

    Textual and visual analysis done by Rachel Milstein, Karin Rührdanz and Barbara Schmitz identify a group of profusely illustrated manuscripts, circa 1570-80 which are all entitled the Qisas al-Anbiya (Stories of the Prophets). In all, they examine 21 copies of three Persian texts, which outline the lives and deeds of mostly biblical figures that are considered by Muslims as prophets and are mentioned in the Qur'an. The differences in the texts reflect the differences between Muslim religious trends and the fact that the stories developed through the writings of various religious scholars, historians, sufi poets and popular storytellers.

    Whilst this group of texts is all in Persian, it seems that the majority were copied and illustrated by a group of unidentified painters in the Ottoman Empire rather than in Iran. The style and iconography of the present manuscript fits it closely into this group. For a further discussion of the group and further examples of comparable miniatures see Milstein, Rührdanz and Schmitz, Stories of the Prophets, California, 1999.

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