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SHARAF AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN SA'ID AL-DALASI AL-BUSIRI (D. 1295 AD): AL-KAWAKIB AL-DURRIYA FI MADH KHAYR AL-BURRIYA (QASIDAT AL-BURDA)
SHARAF AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN SA'ID AL-DALASI AL-BUSIRI (D. 1295 AD): AL-KAWAKIB AL-DURRIYA FI MADH KHAYR AL-BURRIYA (QASIDAT AL-BURDA)
SHARAF AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN SA'ID AL-DALASI AL-BUSIRI (D. 1295 AD): AL-KAWAKIB AL-DURRIYA FI MADH KHAYR AL-BURRIYA (QASIDAT AL-BURDA)
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No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium. A RARE MANUSCRIPT COMMISSIONED FOR THE LIBRARY OF THE MAMLUK SULTAN QANSUH AL-GHURI (R.1501-16)
SHARAF AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN SA'ID AL-DALASI AL-BUSIRI (D. 1295 AD): AL-KAWAKIB AL-DURRIYA FI MADH KHAYR AL-BURRIYA (QASIDAT AL-BURDA)

SIGNED ABU AL-FADL AL-A'RAJ (THE CRIPPLE), COMMISSIONED FOR SULTAN AL-ASHRAF QANSUH AL-GHURI, MAMLUK EGYPT, EARLY 16TH CENTURY

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SHARAF AL-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN SA'ID AL-DALASI AL-BUSIRI (D. 1295 AD): AL-KAWAKIB AL-DURRIYA FI MADH KHAYR AL-BURRIYA (QASIDAT AL-BURDA)
SIGNED ABU AL-FADL AL-A'RAJ (THE CRIPPLE), COMMISSIONED FOR SULTAN AL-ASHRAF QANSUH AL-GHURI, MAMLUK EGYPT, EARLY 16TH CENTURY
The Celestial Lights in Praise of the Best of Creation, a renowned ode to the Prophet Muhammad, Arabic manuscript on paper, 54ff. plus two fly-leaves, each folio with 3ll. of large black thuluth alternating with 3ll. of red naskh, each folio with 3ll. of brown thuluth in the left margin, polychrome rosette verse markers, opening folio heavily illuminated in gold and polychrome with 6ll. of white thuluth on gold ground, last folio with illuminated gold roundel including the name of the author in white thulth against gold ground, colophon, in original tooled and gilt brown morocco binding
Folio 14 x 10 ¾in. (36.2 x 27cm.)
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Lot Essay

Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghuri (r. 1501-16) was the penultimate Mamluk sultan and his reign marks the culmination of Mamluk pious and artistic patronage. He commissioned a great number of buildings and built a commercial and residential quarter in Cairo. Works of art and works on paper from his reign are more limited however, and this manuscript is therefore a rare survival.

The illumination of the present frontispiece draws on an earlier tradition. A copy of the same manuscript with a dedication to Sultan Qaitbay, attributable to circa 1470, is in the Chester Beatty Library (MS.4168; Esin Atil, Renaissance of Islam. Art of the Mamluks, exhibition catalogue, Washington D.C., 1981, pp.46-47, no.9). Like ours, that is arranged around a central cusped calligraphic medallion with small roundels at the four cardinal points. The interstices are filled with a similar dense flowering scroll on red ground. In our manuscript the floral motifs have become somewhat simplified but the overall conception is very much the same.

One example of a manuscript produced for the library of Qansuh al-Ghuri is an album of calligraphic specimens compiled by Muhammad bin Hassan al-Tayyibi and dated AH 908/1503 AD (Sheila S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, Edinburgh 2008, figs.8.4 and 8.12, pp.327 and 344). Both of the two folios that Blair illustrates in her text show the manuscript with lines of strong black calligraphy alternating with smaller lines, in that case of rayhan or ghubar. Although the scripts are slightly different to those employed on our manuscript, the overall composition is very similar. This was a format often used for Qasidat al-Burda manuscripts, where the verses of the al-Kawakib al-Durriyya are copied in the larger script and four additional, takhmis, lines which are a metrical amplification of the verses, are copied in smaller script. A copy of the Qasidat al-Burda with precisely the same arrangement of text in closely related colours was in the collection of Ghassan I. Shaker (Nabil F. Safwat, Golden Pages, Oxford, 2000, fig.7). That example is catalogued as 15th century.

The roundel at the end of our manuscript bears the name of the Mamluk Yunus, son of the late Barsbay al-Yusufi of the Al-Qa’ah barracks. It is possible that he gifted this manuscript to Sultan Qansuh al-Ghuri.

A similar copy of the Qasidat al-Burda sold at Christie’s, South Kensington, 7 October 2011, lot 20.

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