• 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 120



    Price Realised  


    Arabic manuscript on gold-speckled paper, 318ff. plus 3 fly-leaves, each folio with 12ll. of black naskh, with gold and polychrome rosette verse markers, with red reading marks, the illumination dating to 16th century Shiraz, sura headings in white naskh over gold ground with floral scrolls within polychrome illuminated cartouches, text within gold and polychrome rules, with polychrome illuminated marginal markers of various shapes, opening bifolio with two heavily illuminated shamsas with Qur'an XVII, sura al-isra', v.88 in white naskh over gold ground, the following bifolio with carpet page illumination surrounding with sura al-fatiha within cusped illuminated medallions, the following bifolio with heavily illuminated headpiece and text within cloud bands on gold ground, last folio with prayers heavily illuminated, added signature of 'Abdullah Tabbakh, in later gilt stamped morroco binding, folios loose in binding, repairs, areas of waterstaining
    Text panel 8 x 4¾in. (20.5 x 12.4cm.); folio 13¼ x 8¾in. (33.5 x 22cm.)

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    Shihab al-Din 'Abdullah Haravi, also known as 'Abdullah Tabbakh, was a calligrapher who worked in the atelier of prince Baysunghur at Herat. He was one of the most celebrated calligraphers of the Timurid era, especially known for his thuluth. He is responsible for the calligraphy on a number of buildings in Herat, most notably those founded in Mashhad by Gauhar Shad Begum, wife of Shah Rukh. He founded a school of calligraphy in Herat and numbered amongst his pupils 'Abd al-Haqq and Sheikh Kamal Shabzavari, the father of the artist Sheikh Muhammad. Another Qur'an copied by him is in the Chester Beatty Library (A.J. Arberry, The Koran Illuminated. A Handlist of the Korans in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, 1967, no. 141, p. 43).

    Although the signature of 'Abdullah Tabbakh in the present Qur'an is incorporated within the sixteenth century Shirazi refurbishment and may therefore be a later addition, such is the high quality of the hand that it is not unreasonable to suppose that the signature was either saved from the original and stuck into the refurbishment or that the name was copied from the original manuscript. As well as being an illustrious scribe, 'Abdullah Tabbakh was said to be a master of gold-sprinkling (afshan) (Sheila S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, Edinburgh, 2006, p.305). The fine gold-sprinkled pages of this manuscript support the possibility that indeed this manuscript was copied by Tabbakh.

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