• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 119



    Price Realised  


    Arabic manuscript on cream paper, 432ff. plus 2 fly-leaves, each folio with 9ll. of elegant black naskh bordered by 2ll. of large gold muhaqqaq, all panels within double black and gold interlinear rules, gold verse roundels, almost every page with marginal medallions of round or drop shape containing floral motifs on cobalt ground with gold borders, sura headings in large gold thulth against a ground of scrolling vine and within panels of gold and polychrome illumination, opening bifolio with four panels of illumination and medallions probably later replacements, some marginal repairs and areas of staining or smudging, last folio also possibly reworked, in earlier brown morocco with flap and stamped geometric decoration
    Text panel 8½ x 6 3/8in. (21.4 x 16cm.); folio 11 3/8 x 8 5/8in. (29 x 22cm.)

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    The artists and calligraphers of the Timurid period began to show a greater versatility with regards to scale and script than their Mamluk and Ilkhanid predecessors. This Qur'an demonstrates this in the large lines of thulth that border the nine smaller lines of naskh on each folio. The combination of multiple scripts on the same page was something that became widespread under the Timurids. Whilst this might have given undue emphasis to the lines of larger script, David James suggests that this would not have troubled people at the time whilst simultaneously allowing the calligrapher to show of his mastery of different hands (David James, Qur'ans and Bindings from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, 1980, p. 68).

    One can see the calligrapher skilfully and elegantly playing with size and script in the present example. It resembles an example in the Khalili Collection, dating from circa 1420-30 AD (David James, The Master Scribes, London, 1992, no.14, p.70-71). Although the Khalili example (which has a hopeful attribution to Yaqut al-Muta'simi) has fewer lines per page, the pages are similarly arranged with a row of large muhaqqaq above and below the main body of text. Like ours, sura headings are also written in gold thulth and decorated in the Shirazi style of the first quarter of the 15th century with wide gold scrolls issuing leaves and buds, and surrounded by panels of gold and polychrome illumination on cobalt ground (James, op. cit., p.70).

    The opening folio of the present Qur'an has a recent attribution to Pir Yahya al-Sufi, a 14th century calligrapher.

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