AN ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-SIDED BIFOLIUM FROM THE NAHJ AL-FARADIS: THE TWO HELLS RESERVED FOR MISERS AND FLATTERERS
AN ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-SIDED BIFOLIUM FROM THE NAHJ AL-FARADIS: THE TWO HELLS RESERVED FOR MISERS AND FLATTERERS
AN ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-SIDED BIFOLIUM FROM THE NAHJ AL-FARADIS: THE TWO HELLS RESERVED FOR MISERS AND FLATTERERS
AN ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-SIDED BIFOLIUM FROM THE NAHJ AL-FARADIS: THE TWO HELLS RESERVED FOR MISERS AND FLATTERERS
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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
AN ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-SIDED BIFOLIUM FROM THE NAHJ AL-FARADIS: THE TWO HELLS RESERVED FOR MISERS AND FLATTERERS

COMMISSIONED BY SULTAN ABU SA’ID GURKAN, TIMURID HERAT, CIRCA 1465

Details
AN ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-SIDED BIFOLIUM FROM THE NAHJ AL-FARADIS: THE TWO HELLS RESERVED FOR MISERS AND FLATTERERS
COMMISSIONED BY SULTAN ABU SA’ID GURKAN, TIMURID HERAT, CIRCA 1465
Uyghur manuscript, opaque pigments and gold on paper, recto with Hell for Misers, 3 ll. below, verso with Hell for Flatterers, 4ll. below, facing folio with 17 ll. of Uyghur script on reverse, recto blank
folio 16 ¼ x 11 7/8in. (41.4 x 30.3cm.)
illustration on verso 6 ¾ x 7 ½in. (17.2 x 19cm.)
illustration on recto 6 ¾ x 7 ½in. (17.2 x 19cm.)
folio 2, text panel 9 1/8 x 7 ½in. (23.2 x 19cm.)
Provenance
Made for the Timurid ruler Sultan Abu Sa'id Gurkan.
Private collection, UK (the piece was inherited through the family and documents date back to the 1970s).
Christie's, London, Private sale, 2016.

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Louise Broadhurst

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Lot Essay

Recto:
The Prophet Muhammad, mounted on al-Buraq, visits the hell for misers
Accompanied by Gabriel who is almost concealed, the Prophet looks down on the suffering misers who have failed to pay the zakat or tithe. The text narrates that: I saw another group of people around whose necks were suspended heavy millstones and whose arms were fettered with chains. Angels were torturing them ruthlessly. I asked: “Who are these people?” Gabriel said: “These are the ones who do not pay the tithe on their possessions. With satisfaction in their hearts and not fearing this Day [of Judgment], they were not able to absolve the greediness in their hearts by paying the tithe on their possessions” (Gruber, 2008, p.367). It has been suggested that the red millstones were formed from their riches which had been thrown into the infernal furnace, (Seguy, 1977, pl.54, caption) alluding to the Qur’an which explicitly states that “on the Day of Resurrection they will wear around their necks what they hoarded in their lives” (Qur’an, sura III, al-‘Imran, v.176).

This adheres very closely to the Mi’rajnama version of the same subject. The colouring here however is much brighter. Gabriel has an orange rather than lilac cloak, and the background is a clearly lighter shade of grey. The guardian demon in the Paris copy almost fades into the murky background where his light grey tone and brilliantly fiery eyebrows really make him stand out here. One interesting feature is that our artist had clearly looked carefully at flames. While the Paris copy flames are uniformly red painted on top of the gold ground, here the centre of the flame is blue-green, only turning to oranges and reds nearer the edge of the fire.

Verso:
The Prophet Muhammad, mounted on al-Buraq, visits the hell for false flatterers
I saw another group of people whose faces were blackened. Their necks and hands were fettered by chains and they were tortured ruthlessly. I asked: “Who are these people?” Gabriel answered: “These are the people who proffered flattery to the eminent [ones]” (Gruber, 2008, p.367).

As in the painting on the recto, the main differences here are those of colouring. Again the angel Gabriel wears brighter clothing, while only two of the flatterers are blackened, the others looking almost overly healthily pink in the flames. The demon has however changed from the red of the Paris version to our purple, and here, in contrast to the earlier almost comical model, the demon is intently focussed on the Prophet and al-Buraq.

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