• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 202



    Price Realised  


    The cartouche of rectangular form with cusped ends and small arch at the centre of each horizontal edge, the body with extremely elegant and bold calligraphy against a background of finely worked cut steel spiralling tendrils issuing palmettes, leaves and flowerheads, surface slightly over-cleaned
    15 1/8in. (38.2cm.) across

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The inscription is from the Qur'an, sura al-An'am (VI), parts of v.32.

    This is one of a series of panels of magnificent cut steel work of the very highest quality. The work is outstanding: the panels were drilled from behind and then the holes were enlarged to create this design. Each line is thicker at the back but tapers with superb precision to the detail on the face.

    A series of eight related panels has been suggested, each of which has an inscription in naskh set against a scrolling vine ground. All are of the same shape and size. One of these is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. no. M 5.1919). Three were sold at Sotheby's in London (16 April 1986, lots 181 and 182; 12 October 1982, lot 71). Two further examples were exhibited in Saudi Arabia (The Unity of Islamic Art, exhibition catalogue, Riyadh, 1985, no.96, pp.120-121). Two of these six, including that in the Victoria and Albert Museum, were part of the collection of Sir Charles Marling and were said to have come originally from the shrine in Shiraz of Shah Tahmasp (d.1576 AD). This dating makes them considerably earlier than the initially similar pierced steel panels of lobed oval form, one of which is dated AH 1105/1693-4 AD, in the reign of Shah Sulayman Safavi (Y. H. Safadi, Islamic Calligraphy, London, 1976, pl.10, p.37).

    The present panel is however not one of the two missing from the series. The two that have not been published, according to Dr. Melikian-Chirvani, should have two lines that, with the other six, complete an Arabic poem referring to the Fourteen Innocents. The size of our panel is the same as the others, and the thickness is also comparable - these panels are noticeably thicker than other pierced steel panels. Instead of that ours contains a verse from the Qur'an, which implies the possibility of another series of panels at some stage made in the same workshop.

    A third series is also known that is closely related. The panels are of the same shape, with the same outline, but with inscriptions in Farsi written in nasta'liq. These were in the Hariri Collection and were said to have come from the Darb-i Imam mosque in Isfahan, dating from the 16th century (Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, London, 1938, pl.1389).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.