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    Sale 7615

    Art of The Islamic And Indian Worlds

    7 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 64

    A FATIMID ENGRAVED IRON MIRROR

    EGYPT, FIRST HALF 12TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A FATIMID ENGRAVED IRON MIRROR
    EGYPT, FIRST HALF 12TH CENTURY
    Of circular form, the reverse engraved with a central roundel depicting a hawk attacking a bird, in a broad border of elaborately worked kufic between inner meandering vine and outer plain stripes, corroded surface, even rich brown patination
    5½in. (14cm.) diam.


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    The apposite inscription reads: wa rabbi fa-ahsin surati al- li'l-'ayni fa-ahsin khulqi wa (And my Lord, thus beautify my face for my eyes and then beautify my character and)

    While bronze mirrors from the mediaeval Islamic world are relatively frequently encountered, steel or iron examples dating from before the Timurid period are extremely rare. A famous Turkish gold-inlaid steel 13th century example is in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, depicting a huntsman surrounded by running animals (Turks, exhibition catalogue, London, 2005, no.72, p.123).

    The present mirror, hitherto unrecorded, has a classic Fatimid layout that is echoed in many architectural combinations, for instance in the portal of the mosque of al-Aqmar (Jonathan M. Bloom, Arts of the City Victorious, New Haven and London, 2007, pl.109). In both cases the inner part of the central roundel has a central composition surrounded by a raised band of meandering very similar vine in shallow relief, which is within a band of similarly worked strong kufic. The central roundel here, with its bird combat group, directly echoes many Fatimid compositions including the famous rock crystal ewer in the Victoria and Albert Museum depicted under lot 50 in this sale. From the architectural similarities it is possible to date this mirror to the first half of the twelfth century.

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