'Abbas Ghulam Shah, 'Clam Gallus' design, 18th century, Afghanistan, Afsharid, Agra carpet, al-'abd al-muthnib 'Ali, Amir Khusraw Dihlawi, Aqa Mirak, ‘Lotto’ carpet, Blue-and-White, Bursa, Cairene rug, calligraphic panel, Central Anatolia, Central Persia, circa 1540-50, circa 1575, circa 1580, circa 1650-58, circa 1920, Dala'il Al-Khayrat, early Ottoman, Edirne, Emperor Akbar, Emperor Shah Jahan, First half 18th century, First quarter 17th century, gilt blue glass dish, Ibrahim Na'ili, India, Iran, Isfahan, Isfahan part-cotton and metal-thread rug, Istanbul, Iznik, Iznik pottery dish, Iznik pottery tankard, Iznik pottery tile spandrel, Jamal Al-Din Abu Muhammad Nizami, Karapinar rug, kard, Kashmir, Khamsa, Konya District, Lahore, Lapis Lazuli, last quarter 19th century, late 16th century, Late 16th or early 17th century, Late 17th or early 18th century, mid-15th century, Mughal, Mughal India, Muhammad Bin Sulayman Al-Jazuli, Muhammad Husayn, nasta'liq, nasta'liq quatrain, North India, Ottoman Egypt, Ottoman Turkey, pottery dish, Prince Jalal Al-Din Akbar, Qazvin, Safavid, second quarter 17th century, Shiraz, silk and metal-thread 'Polonaise' rug, silk and metal-thread Koum Kapi rug, Tabriz, The Douglass Mughal ‘Millefleurs’ prayer rug, Ushak, West Anatolia, Zand
An important early Ottoman blue and white pottery dish, probably Edirne or Bursa, mid 15th century. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014.
LONDON.- Objects tracing the rich cultural heritage of the Islamic and Indian worlds will be offered in a series of three sales at Christie’s in London during Islamic Art Week which runs from 7-10 October. Among the 700 lots on offer within the sales there is particular strength among the works of art from the Mughal, Safavid and Ottoman Empires. The sales offer an insight into the diversity of the religious, social and geographical influences on works of art and the craftsmen, artists and patrons who created them.
One of the highlights in the Oriental Rugs and Carpets sale is the Douglass Mughal ‘Millefleurs’ prayer rug (lot 50) which dates from the 18th century and was most probably woven in Lahore or Kashmir in northern India. It is part of an exceptionally small and rare group, of which only ten other examples are known. This ‘millefleurs’ prayer rug, a reference to the delicate floral design worked across the entire field, is woven with wonderfully soft pashmina wool and remains in astonishingly good condition. It is “one of the most extraordinary of these rare and beautiful weavings” and is estimated at £300,000-500,000, a reflection of its condition and provenance. Also from Mughal India is a very elegant Lahore gallery carpet, lot 116, which relates to the famous Girdlers’ carpet, commissioned for the Girdlers’ livery company in the 1630s. The best of 19th century Indian Revivalist weaving is represented by lot 49 a finely woven ivory ground Agra carpet with a classic large palmette design borrowed from Safavid and Mughal carpet designs (estimate: £30,000-50,000).
The Douglass Mughal ‘Millefleurs’ prayer rug, North India, probably Lahore or Kashmir, 18th century. Estimate £300,000 – £500,000 ($490,800 – $818,000). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Good pile throughout, a few small localised repairs, selvages rebound; 5ft.4in. x 3ft.11in. (163cm. x 119cm.)
Provenance: John M. Douglass and Sue N. Peters Collection
Joseph R. Ritman Collection
Purchased by the present owner at Sotheby’s New York, 12 April 1996, lot 78
Literature: Eberhart Herrmann, Seltene Orientteppiche, IX, Munich 1987, cover and pp.7-9
‘Auction Reports – Mughal Mania’, Hali 87, July 1996, p.161
Steven Cohen, ‘Ten Thousand At A Glance’, Hali 88, September 1996, pp.74-77
Notes: The pashmina Mughal millefleurs prayer rugs are amongst the most revered and sought-after of all classical Indian carpets. Distinguished by their elegant compositions of finely drawn floral stems and luminous, jewel-like colours; fewer than fifteen examples of these exquisite rugs are known and half of these are housed in important museum collections. Woven using pashmina, the short, silky soft wool from the underbelly of Himalayan goats found in Ladakh and Tibet, it seems most likely that these beautiful weavings were the product of a specialist workshop in Kashmir, where there was a ready supply of pashmina wool due to the established shawl industry. These extraordinary weavings would have represented the height of luxury and would have have most probably been woven as special commissions for the Mughal court. In his publication of the present prayer rug in Seltene Orientteppiche IX, Munich, 1987, p.8, Eberhart Herrmann listed eight additional prayer rugs in the group, the Habsburg prayer rug in the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna; The Textile Museum prayer rug; the three rugs formerly in the Joseph V. McMullan collection now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard, respectively; the two rugs from the George W. Vanderbilt collection at Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina; the Dubernard rug in the Musee Historique des Tissus, Lyon; The Marquand/Benguiat/Kevorkian rug. To this list should be added the prayer rug offered at Sotheby’s New York, 19 September 2003, lot 84 and the Rippon Boswell rug sold 1 December 2007, lot 133 (Hali 155, p.147).
The origin of the design of the millefleurs prayer rugs can be traced back to the magnificent pashmina shrub niche rugs created during the reign of Shah Jahan in the mid 17th century. These earlier weavings, such as the famous Aynard rug formerly in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, have very similar design elements to the millefleurs prayer rugs, such as the cusped arch, two bisected cypress trees at each side and a central hillock or vase from which issue the floral stems. Many of the carpet designs created during the reign of Shah Jahan continued to be popular under the reign of his heir Aurangzeb and his successors, however one can witness a tendency towards reducing the scale of ornamentation. The millefleurs carpets developed out of this tendancy towards miniaturisation and, Dan Walker suggests, from the European influence on Mughal floral patterns (Daniel Walker,Flowers Underfoot; Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, New York, 1997, pp.119-129). In his article ‘Ten Thousand At A Glance’, ibid., Steven Cohen suggests that the designs of Mughal Kashmir shawls may have also influenced the development of the designs of the millefleurs prayer rugs. The correlation between the composition of the millefleurs prayer rugs and the boteh design of mid 18th century Kashmir shawls is undeniable (see Steven Cohen, ibid., figs. 2 and 3, p.75) but it does not follow that the design originated with the shawl industry.
Historically the Habsburg prayer rug has been considered the earliest of the millefleurs prayer rugs, dated by most authorities to the late 17th century or early 18th century. It is this prayer rug that most closely resembles the earlier prototype of the Aynard rug. It is the only millefleurs prayer rug in the group not to depict a vase, instead the floral stems rise directly from the hillock, which contains individual shrubs and is seen as the prototype for the present rug. The present prayer rug is most closely related to the magnificent Marquand/Benguiat/Kevorkian rug. Both rugs have a wider profile to the cusped arch and to the field due to the much smaller cypresses to each side. In each rug the drawing of the vase is very similar, it is ramed by the curled sickle leaves and flanked on each side by miniature secondary vases. The beautiful and sinuous border of the present rug is shared by the Metropolitan Museum rug, one of the Vanderbilt rugs at Biltmore and the Dubernard rug; these are the four examples that relate most closely to the border of the Habsburg rug.
The present prayer rug is unique amongst the group of pashmina millefleurs prayer rugs, being the only example to have an elegant similar palette in the field and spandrel design. All the other examples in the group are woven with strongly contrasting spandrel and field colours. The subtle colouration of our rug softens the prominence of the prayer arch whilst simultaneously creating a sense of depth and three-dimensionality across the field, distinguishing it as one of the most extraordinary of these rare and beautiful weavings.
An Agra carpet, North India, last quarter 19th century. Estimate £30,000 – £50,000 ($49,080 – $81,800). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Localised wear, corroded brown, scattered repiling, a few small repairs, very minor localised colour run, selvages replaced; 17ft.7in. x 10ft. (533cm. x 303cm.)
Notes: By the beginning of the 19th century the Indian carpet industry was almost defunct and its revival can be contributed largely to the inclusion of a number of Indian pile carpets in the London Great Exhibition of 1851. The carpets displayed at the Crystal Palace sparked the interest of the British public and made carpet dealers direct there attention to India as a potential area of supply. Workshops sprung up across the country and by 1862 the British Imperial government had set up a number of jail workshops in the Punjab. The designs for the new carpet industry were furnished mainly from two important sources. The first was the publication of lavish carpet reference books with hand coloured plates, such as the Vienna Book (lot 1 in the present sale); the second source was the loan and study of the great 16th and 17th century Safavid Persian and Mughal carpets that remained in private Indian collections, such as that of the Maharajah of Jaipur and the collection in Bijapur. An account of this remarkable generosity is recorded by T.H. Hendley in his Asian Carpets: XVI and XVII Century Designs for the Jaipur Palaces, London, 1905, ‘It has been a great pleasure to me to have been instrumental in preserving them [the Jaipur carpets], and in inducing the enlighted and generous chief of Jaipur (Maharaja Sir Mahdo Singh Bahadur) to lend some of them from time to time to the carpet factories at Ajonere, Alwar, Agra, Lahore, Allahabad, Amritsar and Delhi for reproduction, thus helping to revive a valuable art industry in some of the ancient capitals in which it was started by the great Moghul emperor.’
The Safavid spiral vine design of the present lot is so beautifully rendered that it seems most likely that it was copied directly from one of the great carpets in the Jaipur collection, such as no 84 in the unpublished Jaipur Collection inventory. The design of these often narrow Safavid and Mughal carpets could then be mirrored by the workshops to create a carpet of almost any dimension. This mirroring phenomenon is visible in the present carpet to each side of the field, and creates an attractive almost kaleidoscopic effect. For a closely related example and further information on the subject please see Ian Bennett and Michael Kennedy’s exhibition catalogue, Jail Birds, An Exhibition of 19th century Indian Carpets, London, 1987, pl.5. The carpet listed in the Jail Birds catalogue is tentatively attributed to Agra Jail and it is possible that the present carpet was woven there as well, what is undeniable is that this is an exceptional example of the best and most luxurious 19th century Indian revivalist weaving.
Amongst the Indian highlights of the King Street Islamic Art sale is an important and heavily illustrated copy of the Khamsa of Nizami. Copied in Kashmir or North India, in the early 17th century, the manuscript provides a rare window into a hybrid style of painting which was subject to the artistic influences of both the Mughal and the Safavid Courts (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Another highlight of the sale is a folio from a Royal album made for Shah Jahan in around 1650-58. The small and remarkably detailed depictions of exotic bids and flowers that decorate the border illustrate the Emperor’s much documented fascination with the natural world (estimate: £40,000-60,000). It is possible that the European herbaria of the early 17th century that were bought into the Mughal court by Jesuit missionaries provided the inspiration.
Jamal Al-Din Abu Muhammad Nizami (AH 535-598/1140-1202 AD): Khamsa , Kashmir or North India, dated AH 1029-1030/1619-21 AD. Estimate £200,000 – £300,000 ($490,800 – $818,000). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Persian manuscript on paper, 438ff. plus 4 fly-leaves, each folio with 19ll. of elegant black nasta’liq divided into four columns with gold intercolumnar rule, headings in red nasta’liq on a gold and polychrome illuminated ground, text panels withIN gold and polychrome rules, catchwords, five illuminated headpieces with gold and polychrome scrolling floral vine with interlocking palmettes and cusped cartouches, the illuminated headpiece at the start of the second text with three human faces in the illumination, text below headpieces in clouds reserved against gold ground with scrolling vine, with 34 contemporaneous paintings, the first text with a colophon dated AH 1029 and the last text with a colophon dated AH 1030, in a later silk covered binding, areas of flaking and loss.Text panel 7 x 4¼in. (17.7 x 10.8cm.); folio 9¼ x 6 5/8in. (23.5 x 16.6cm.)
Notes: The illustrations in this manuscript include:
1. Sultan Sanjar and the Old Woman
2. The tyrannical king and the truthful man
3. The ministers plead with Hurmuzd to forgive the youthful Khusrau
4. Shirin gazes at the portrait of Khusrau
5. Khusraw spies on Shirin bathing
6. Khusraw shoots the lion in the pleasure grounds
7. Khusraw, Shirin, Shapur and Shapur’s daughters entertain each other with stories
8. The battle between Khusraw and Bahram Chubineh
9. Farhad before the veiled Shirin
10. Farhad lifts Shirin and her horse on his shoulders
11. Khusrau and Shirin communicate through Barbad and Nakisa
12. Battle between the tribes of Layla and Majnun
13. Majnun frees the deer
14. Majnun is visited by his father
15. Majnun is visited by his mother
16. Bahram Gur shoots a lion
17. Bahram Gur wrestles with two lions to gain the crown
18. Bahram Gur in the Black Pavilion
19. Bahram Gur in the Yellow Pavilion
20. Bahram Gur in the Red Pavilion
21. Bahram Gur in the Turquoise Pavilion
22. Bahram Gur in the Sandalwood Pavilion
23. Bahram Gur in the White Pavilion
24. Bahram Gur in the Green Pavilion
25. Iskandar’s army fights the Zangi army
26. Iskandar sees the two partridges out hunting and becomes reluctant to fight Dara
27. Iskandar comforts the dying Dara
28. The punishment of the two officers who betrayed Dara
29. Nushabeh shows Iskandar his own portrait
30. Mani paints a dead dog on the Chinese pool of crystal
31. Iskandar and the Chinese slave girl
32. Iskandar discusses creation with the seven philosophers
33. Iskandar watches the sirens bathing
17th century Kashmir served as a centre for the exchange of artistic influences from the Mughal and Safavid courts and beyond. Officially under Mughal rule, the Kashmir valley served as an occasional pleasure resort for the early Emperors. The lack of a permanent Mughal imperial base in the valley in the 17th century may account for the fact that there appears not to be a definitive and easily identifiable native Kashmiri school of painting from this period. The itinerant nature of the Imperial court suggests that artists working in or originating from Kashmir were constantly on the move with the court. Our manuscript provides a rare window into a hybrid style of painting associated with the Kashmir valley during the first quarter of the 17th century.
A striking feature found throughout the illustrations in this manuscript are the rock formations which are divided into multiple small rounded sections with delicate shading. Painting 26 from our manuscript which has two large rock formations which are painted in a vibrant purple and jut upwards into the horizon are very closely related to those in a painting of a ‘Prince Visits an Ascetic during a Hunt’ attributed to Kashmir, circa 1650, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, (inv. 1995.267; Pratapaditya Pal, The Arts of Kashmir, Asia Society 2007, Fig.167, p.156). Our manuscript and the painting in Chicago also share a similar Kashmiri feature of mutli-coloured rounded boulders scattered throughout the landscape.
The atelier which produced the paintings for our manuscript was also clearly influenced by the Mughal fashion for interpreting European prints and figures. Painting 30 depicts two clusters of an architectural backdrop along the upper horizon. Many of the buildings, with their neo-classical features reminiscent of European architecture, are juxtaposed with more Mughal-inspired domed structures with pointed finials. Paintings 20 and 32 both have stylised bust portraits of European style women with short cropped exposed hair and wearing pearl necklaces and bracelets. This demonstrates that the artists who illustrated our manuscript had access to other paintings produced at the Mughal court which had been influenced by European artistic conventions.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar is recorded as having employed several artists who worked in his atelier who carried the epithet ‘Kashmiri’. The artists included Kamal, Muhammad, Isma’il, Ya’qub and most notably Haidar Kashmiri who worked on copies of the Baburnama and the Timurnama for the Emperor and were mostly active in the years between 1580- 1600 (Linda York Leach, ‘Painting in Kashmir from 1600 to 1650’, Facets of Indian Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982, p. 124). Haidar Kashmiri produced an illustration for a now dispersed Shahnama manuscript dated to circa 1600 which shares a similarly arresting scene of conflict with comparable battling figures depicted with three quarter profiles and rounded khulakhud style helmets – very similar to those in painting 8. The painting by Haidar which was formerly in the Benkaim collection and recently acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Fine Art was sold at Sotheby’s New York, 20 September 1985, lot 376. Haidar painted in the foreground a groom in profile leading a horse set against the backdrop of a high city wall, which is a feature common to many Mughal court paintings of the Akbari period. This feature not shared by our manuscript shows that the atelier which produced our manuscript was more connected to Kashmiri styles than that of the Mughal court. Yet both the Haidar painting and the illustrations in our manuscript share the same bright palette distinguished by the strong pink, purple and bright green pigments, features which Linda York Leach identified as Kashmiri in origin.
The paintings in our manuscript were also influenced by artists trained in Central Asia. Similar cross influence is typified by the work of Muhammad Nadir Samarqandi who was active in Kashmir in the mid-17th century. He painted with a strong palette of pigments similar to those found in our manuscript and incorporated hybrid features of Iranian and Central Asian origin. A sufi scene attributed to Muhammad Nadir Samarqandi dated to the equivalent of 1651 depicts an architectural setting which is very similar to painting 7 in our manuscript, (Linda York Leach, op.cit. 1982, fig.2, p.125). Both depict layered constructions with multiple domes and awnings which appear stacked on top of each other in a very colourful collage. The forms of the domes and the awnings are somewhere between Mughal and Safavid styles.
The range of headgear in our manuscript also shows clear influence of Safavid fashions. The celebrated Mughal court artist Bishandas was sent by Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r.1605- 27) to the Safavid court of Shah Abbas (r.1588 -1629) with the specific aim of producing pictures of the Safavid Imperial family and court. Bishindas is recorded as having returned to India from Iran in 1619 at the time our manuscript was copied. Painting 31 in our manuscript contains a portrait of Alexander portrayed as Shah Abbas wearing a distinctive wide Astrakhan cap. This closely follows a portrait of Shah Abbas with the Mughal ambassador Khan ‘Alam meeting in a landscape now mounted on a page of the late Shah Jahan album and dated to circa 1620 (Boston Museum of Fine Arts, no.14.655; Asok Kumar Das, ‘Bishandas’,Masters of Indian Painting, Zurich, 2011, fig.8, p.270). A further striking example of Safavid influence is painting 18 in which Bahram Gur is depicted wearing an archaic qizilbash turban complete with a red baton. The female figures in this painting are depicted in a three-quarter profile which is also reminiscent of the style of Bishandas. It is probable that Bishandas as he travelled back to Agra might have shared some of his newer works with artists working in a regional court. This would explain how Safavid imagery could have entered our manuscript almost at the same time that Bishandas was known to have been travelling back from Isfahan to Agra.
Our manuscript is a wonderful illustration of a melting pot of different styles which forms a link between itinerant artists like Haidar Kashmiri and the later Central Asian and Safavid inspired artists such as Muhammad Nadir Samarqandi and Bishandas. This unique hybrid of painting could be termed Kashmiri but it must be remembered that it was produced in a very Mughal dominated context. The Mughal Emperor Jahangir was recorded as having visited Kashmir in 1620 and it is possible that our present manuscript was commissioned in the context of this Imperial visit to the region. The range of visual influences and the quality of the both the paper and the calligraphy indicates that our manuscript was produced in a wealthy regional centre which was clearly in close contact with the Imperial court at Agra as well as having access to an impressive library from which all of these rich visual references have been sourced.
A nasta’liq quatrain, signed [Mir] ‘Ali, Mughal India, circa 1650-58. Estimate £40,000 – £60,000 ($65,440 – $98,160). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Persian manuscript on paper, with 4ll. of elegant black nasta’liq in red-outlined clouds reserved against gold ground with flowing polychrome floral illumination, a line below signed al-‘abd al-muthnib ‘Ali, laid down between polychrome rules and minor blue and gold floral borders and another with pink cloud bands reserved against gold ground on wide margins decorated with elegant floral sprays and a variety of birds, a silver stream along the lower edge, minor areas of smudging and flaking, mounted on card
Calligraphic panel 6 1/8 x 3 1/8in. (15.5 x 7.6cm.); folio 15 x 9¾in. (38.2 x 24.8cm.)
A FOLIO FROM A ROYAL ALBUM MADE FOR SHAH JAHAN, PROBABLY THE LATE SHAH JAHAN ALBUM
Notes: Albums made for the Emperor Shah Jahan and his father Jahangir are celebrated for the refined quality of the border decoration. The borders paid tribute to the royal patrons’ growing concern with the natural world – they actively encouraged artists of their ateliers to study and observe all aspects of it. The European herbaria of the early 17th century that were bought into the Mughal court by Jesuit missionaries provided ample inspiration. Under Jahangir (r.1604-28) artists such as Manohar and Mansur were encouraged to record animals, plants and birds with great attention to detail. It is claimed in Jahangir’s Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, that more than one hundred flower paintings were done by the artist Mansur in Kashmir alone (Milo C. Beach, Eberhard Fischer and B.N.Goswamy (eds.), Masters of Indian Painting, vol.I, exhibition catalogue, New York and Zurich, 2011, p.257). Under Shah Jahan, this keen observation was applied to the borders of albums, where artists demonstrated the great precision and naturalism with which they had become practiced.
A number of albums with closely related floral borders were produced under the patronage of Shah Jahan. These include the Minto, Wantage and Kevorkian albums – all now identified by the names of former Western owners. However our folio relates most closely to another, the now dispersed Late Shah Jahan album, probably assembled between 1650-58. In that album the calligraphic borders are usually floral, and certainly relate closely to the others mentioned above. However the spacing of the flowers is different – they are sparser and more delicate than those of the other albums. In addition, particular floral species are repeated on a single border unlike the Minto, Wantage and Kevorkian albums, where each type of flower is used only once. In many of the folios from the Late Shah Jahan album birds are a prominent feature, flying or walking amongst the flowering plants, usually in pairs as found on our page (Elaine Wright (ed.), Muraqqa’. Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, exhibition catalogue, Virginia, 2008, pp.115-16). Our page closely relates in these features, and it seems very possible that it was conceived for that album. Notably, a folio from the Late Shah Jahan album in the Chester Beatty Library shares with ours not only a very similar calligraphic panel by Mir ‘Ali, but also similar minor borders with pink cloud bands reserved against gold ground (Wright, op.cit., no.56b, p.372).
The calligraphy on the folio is signed al-muthnib ‘Ali, probably referring to Mir ‘Ali al-Katib (d.1556). Mir ‘Ali is often mentioned by Safavid sources as amongst the most important nasta’liq calligraphers of all time. Various authorities attribute the codifying of the aesthetic rules of nasta’liq script to him. Born in Herat circa 1476, he was later taken to Bukhara by the Shaybanid ruler ‘Ubaydullah Khan after his capture of Herat in AH 935/1528-29 AD (Mehdi Bayani,Ahval va Asar-e Khosh-Nevisan, vol. II, Tehran 1346 sh., p.494). His recorded works are dated between AH 914/1508-09 AD and AH 951/1544-45 AD. The works of leading Persian calligraphers were particularly prized at the Mughal court and Mir ‘Ali was amongst those particularly admired by Jahangir. A large number of qit’as signed by him found their way into important Mughal albums, and he is the calligrapher responsible for most of the specimens in the late Shah Jahan album. It is possible that they were bought to the Mughal court by way of his son Muhammad Baqir who emigrated to India and was mentioned by Abu’l Fazl’s in his Ain-i Akbari (Islamic Calligraphy, exhibition catalogue, Geneva, 1998, no.54, pp.170-71).
Among the Indian lots in the sale at South Kensington is a finely decorated calligraphic panel which, on further research by Christie’s specialist team, was found to be a formal letter from the second ruler of the Mughal dynasty, Humayun (1508-1556) to his son. The official note requests that his 8-year-old son, later Emperor Akbar, ask the ladies of his father’s harem to be sent to him at his winter encampment. The document gives a rare insight into the private and domestic lives of these two major figures in India’s history. It is offered for sale from a Princely Collection with an estimate of £5,000-8,000. A blue glass dish from Mughal India, a courtly object and a rare survivor from the 18th century, also carries the same estimate.
A fine calligraphic panel in the name of Prince Jalal Al-Din Akbar, future Emperor Akbar, signed Muhammad Husayn, Afghanistan, dated 9 Muharram AH 958/17 january 1551 AD. Estimate £5,000 – £8,000 ($8,180 – $13,088). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Persian manuscript on paper, with 11ll. of elegant black nasta’liq script, most lines in cloud bands against gold ground with polychrome floral illumination, signed and dated in the last line, mounted on card; 9 ¼ x 6 ¼in. (23.6 x 15.8cm.)
PROPERTY FROM A QAJAR PRINCELY COLLECTION
The works offered in this section were collected by a prominent Qajar aristocrat, official and diplomat during the very first years of the 20th century. The selection offered here is completed by eight lots offered for sale at Christie’s King Street, on the 9th of October 2014 (lots xxxx). Two sections from this Qajar princely collection were sold at Christie’s King Street, 10 April 2014, lots 112 to 120 and lot 184, and at Christie’s South Kensington, 11 April 2014, lots 219 to 231.
A LETTER FROM HUMAYUN TO HIS SON, PRINCE AKBAR
Notes: This finely written panel is a letter from Humayun (1508-1556 AD), the second ruler of the Mughal dynasty to his son Prince Jalal al-Din, future emperor Akbar. The letter is dated to 9 Muharram AH 958/17 January 1551 AD. The scribe who wrote it is Muhammad Husayn, an accomplished master in nasta’liq script.
Humayun sent this letter during the winter of 1550-51 AD. It is a official note to his son Akbar, requesting the ladies from his harem to be sent to him in Nikhar (?) where he had made his winter encampment (qishlaq). Humayun was then in Kabul on his return to India and had just fought his brother Kamran who had refused him help. Prince Akbar was then eight years old and had been living with his uncle Kamran’s extended family. Although he was born in Sindh in 1542 AD, he was brought up in Kabul where he married to his first cousin in November 1551, a few months after this document was written.
Humayun conquered Delhi in 1555 AD and Akbar succeeded his father on 15 February 1556 AD. He reigned until 1605 AD. This document, finely written and illuminated at a later stage, is a rare insight into the private life of two major figures of India’s history.
A fine gilt blue glass dish, Mughal India, First half 18th century. Estimate £5,000 – £8,000 ($8,180 – $13,088). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
On short rounded foot, of shallow circular form, the gilt decoration with elegant floral sprays under lobed pointed arches arranged around a central medallion with a floral quatrefoil, the rim with recurring geometric form; 8 ½in. (21.5cm.) diam.
Among the Persian rugs to be offered, is a group of seventeenth century Isfahan carpets from the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection. They are led by a small part-cotton and metal-thread rug (lot 53) which is very unusual and provides a fascinating link in terms of design and structure between the wool Isfahan carpets and the silk and metal-thread ‘Polonaise’ carpets, woven contemporaneously in Shah Abbas’s workshops in Isfahan. It is estimated at £30,000-50,000. Another Safavid highlight in the Oriental Carpet sale is lot 115, a silk and metal-thread ‘Polonaise’ rug from a private collection, which retains much of its original colour and has an estimate of £50,000-70,000.
An Isfahan part-cotton and metal-thread rug, Central Persia, second quarter 17th century. Estimate £30,000 – £50,000 ($49,080 – $81,800). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Uneven wear, corroded red, some localised repair to the metal-thread; 6ft.5in. x 4ft.4in. (194cm. x 131cm.)
Notes: This fascinating and beautiful rug links two visually and structurally different design types that were woven in Isfahan in the early seventeenth century. Whilst the colouring and the palmette and spiral vine field of the present rug appear typical of early seventeenth century wool Isfahan carpets, in a number of ways our rug is more closely related to the silk and metal-thread Persian carpets confusingly coined as ‘Polonaise’ rugs, but which were woven contemporaneously in Isfahan.
The present lot, with its burgundy-red field and rich sea-green border is similar in size to one in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection but which also has the same small central eight lobed flower-head. That rug has only a suggestion of the same quatre-foil radiating medallion, hinted at through the careful arrangement of scrolling vine with split-palmette terminals. It is also made less obvious in the way it is filled with the same ground colour as the rest of the field unlike our medallion which would originally have had a greater proportion of metal-thread but which has since worn away or corroded, (Friedrich Spuhler, Carpets and Textiles, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, London, 1998, No.21, pp.104-5). Another rug centred with an eight-lobed rosette within a bold quatre-foil metal-thread medallion, previously unpublished, sold at Sotheby’s, London, 11 October 2004, lot 68. Typical of most Safavid examples, the spiral-vine design of the field in both this and that rug is symmetric al across both vertical and horizontal axes. Whilst only traces of original metal-thread remain on our rug, the Sotheby’s rug has been re-brocaded at a later date which although already tarnished, gives a clearer impression of what it must have been like when originally woven. Another small rug, catalogued at the time as Herat, was sold in these Rooms, 14 April 1988, lot 82. In that rug however the field design differs in that the small circular roundel enclosed within a cruciform medallion is encircled within a larger lobed roundel. All of these examples share the same characteristic field and border colour.
The bold central medallion of the present rug is enclosed within radiating saz leaves forming strapwork cornered by similar spandrels. This design is more closely associated with the silk and metal-thread ‘Polonaise’ rugs which in turn drew their inspiration from the rare group of earlier sixteenth century small silk medallion rugs from Kashan, (M.S.Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, fig.8, p.57). The ‘Polonaise’ rugs were often woven in pairs. One pair in particular bearing the same quatre-foil medallion enclosed within an arabesque strapwork as ours, one of which was formerly owned by Prince Johann of Liechtenstein and later the Keir Collection, (Friedrich Spuhler, Islamic carpets and Textiles in the Keir Collection, London, 1978, pl.55, pp109-10), the other is now in the Berlin Museum, (Kurt Erdmann, Islamic Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv.no.1). Another example centred with the same medallion formed of split-palmettes and enclosed within a large lozenge formed of curved stems is in the collection of the Dukes of Buccleuch, (Inv. No.9; May Beattie, Carpets of Central Persia, World of Islam Festival Publishing Co. Ltd., 1976, fig. 5a, pp.40-41). Whilst the Buccleuch rug has a different border design to ours, it shares the same floral guard stripes.
Along with the design, the present rug is also structurally closer to the ‘Polonaise’ group of rugs in that it is woven on natural ivory cotton warps, with three weft shoots, two cotton and one silk. The two cotton wefts are beige in colour with a third cream silk weft running between the two. At times there are bands, more visible on the reverse, where the third silk weft changes colour from cream to a wine-red. This change in weft colour is a characteristic that one finds consistently in the ‘Polonaise’ group. Although used on a much more limited scale than the ‘Polonaise’ rugs the present example retains elements of the original silver and gold metal-thread that would have been wrapped around the silk core weft and inserted independently. Along-side the traditional method of metal-thread brocading, the present lot, employs an unusual additional technique used within the four larger scrolling lanceolate leaves that overlay the cusped strap-work. Each appears to have widely spaced thin lines of gold metal-thread running diagonally across the surface of the leaves which is reflective of the confident and masterful weaver.
It is now generally accepted that the muted colours of the silk ‘Polonaise’ rugs that we see today have heavily faded in colour as the dyes were not fast. The change in weft colour on this rug as well as Polonaises is indicative of this; the cream or tan wefts are almost certainly a red colour that has faded. The present rug shares the same jewel-like colours of the best preserved Polonaises. Employing over nine different colours, the weaver has used these playfully throughout, perhaps most clearly in some of the smaller flower heads with one bearing five different coloured petals with further contrasting coloured centres. Interestingly our rug has additional highlights of white cotton which are used effectively to accentuate floral details within the design. In addition, whilst normally considered an Indian characteristic, the present rug shows an unusual use of ton-sur-ton colouring within the spiralling vine both in the field and border. The balanced and harmonious design, the dexterous use of colour and the original use of the golden metal-thread all point to the fact that this rug was likely to have been woven by a master weaver.
A silk and metal-thread ‘Polonaise’ rug, Isfahan, Central Persia, First quarter 17th century. Estimate £50,000 – £70,000 ($81,800 – $114,520). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Low even wear throughout, corroded black, selvages frayed, ends missing some knots and need securing; 8ft.5in. x 4ft.3in. (255cm. x 130cm.).
Provenance: Anon sale in these Rooms, 6 April 2006, lot 50
Notes: These opulent silk carpets attracted much attention from travellers in Persia throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Often given as gifts throughout the reign of Shah ‘Abbas (1587-1628), when their manufacture was at its height, this tradition continued throughout the reigns of Shah Safi (1629-1642) and Shah Abbas II (1642-1674). Members of royalty, visiting dignitaries, merchants and ambassadors, were all recipients which explains why many are still housed today amongst the royal collections, important museums and wealthy private collections of Europe. Their aesthetic descendants were still being made in the reign of Shah Sultan Husayn.
The layout and design of the present rug is very similar to that of a rug sold at Sotheby’s New York, 16 December 2005, lot 41.
In the King Street sale on 9 October, the Iranian section is particularly strong in the Arts of the Book. Amongst the highlights are a fine line drawing attributed to Aqa Mirak, one of the main artists responsible for the production of the celebrated Shah Tahmasp Shahnama. The drawing depicts a turbaned warrior on horseback locked in battle with a fierce dragon – a popular subject for Persian draughtsmen of the 16th century (estimate: £50,000-70,000). Two portraits of youths, sold separately though originally from the same album provide another highlight. Painted in Isfahan in the first decade of the 17th century, each depicts an Indian youth, one holding a vina and the other a bottle (one shown here). The paintings come from the collection of Wilfred Jasper Walter Blunt (1901-1987) a teacher and art historian who wrote several books on the Middle East. The paintings are estimated at £15,000-20,000 and £20,000-30,000. The sale also features the second part of a Qajar Princely Collection (the first of which sold in these Rooms, April 2014). The works on offer were collected by a prominent Qajar aristocrat, official and diplomat during the first years of the 20th century and includes a number of Safavid illustrated manuscripts, led by a copy of the Khamsa of Nizami in its originally binding (estimate: £100,000-150,000).
An unarmed horseman battles a dragon, Attributed to Aqa Mirak, Safavid Tabriz or Qazvin, circa 1540-50. Estimate £50,000 – £70,000 ($81,800 – $114,520). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Ink drawing on paper, an unarmed horseman raises his arm in defence against a fierce dragon who has entwined itself around him and his horse, seal impression in the lower left hand corner with the name Mansour ‘Abd Muzaffar ‘Ali, mounted on an Indian album page with undecorated cream and grey borders, identification inscription in nagari in the upper margin, mounted. Drawing 6½ x 4 3/8in. (16.4 x 11cm.); folio 13 7/8 x 9 3/8in. (35.1 x 24cm.)
Provenance: Anon sale, Sotheby’s, London, 22 October 1993, lot 214
Engraved: The seal reads, ‘Abduhu Muzaffar ‘Ali Mosavver, ‘His (i.e God’s) servant, Muzaffar ‘Ali the Painter’
Notes: When it first appeared for sale in 1993, this fine drawing was attributed to the Safavid master Aqa Mirak, the third artist to be charge of the production of the celebrated Shah Tahmasp Shahnama after Sultan Muhammad and Mir Musavvir. He came from an Isfahani family of Sayyid descent and, according to the Safavid Prince Sam Mirza, who wrote circa 1550, was in close attendance upon the Shah and served as the ‘guiding spirit’ for other artists. He is thought to have moved with the court to Qazwin in 1548 and to have worked for Prince Ibrahim at Mashhad after 1556. No signed works by him are known, though attributions have been made by Welch on the basis of his ascribed miniatures in Shah Tahmasp’s Khamsa, now in the British Library.
The original attribution to this famous artist is justified. In describing another painting attributed to Aqa Mirak in the Art and History Trust Collection, Abolala Soudavar writes of the ‘unnatural twist in the silhouette’ of one of the figures. Whilst the figure’s feet are drawn laterally, much like those of our horseman, his hips and upper body directly face the viewer (Abolala Soudavar, Art of the Persian Courts. Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1992, no.69, p.182). Soudavar also describes the shape of the turbans and the details of the faces, including ‘almost imperceptible double chins’, as other features that distinguish the artist’s work. Both again are features shared by our drawing.
The horse in our drawing which leaps, seemingly oblivious to the dragon wrapped around it, is very similar to those drawn elsewhere by Aqa Mirak. In his painting ‘Faridun tests his sons’ from the Shah Tahmasp Shahnama and formerly in the collection of Stuart Cary Welch, the horses, particularly that in the lower right hand corner, share with ours the same wide-eyed cartoon-like quality (Sheila R. Canby, The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. The Persian Book of Kings, New York, 2011, f.42v, p.49). The furrowed brow and almost apologetic stare of our horseman is similarly paralleled in much of the artist’s known work – see for example the painting of ‘Shapur informing Khusrow that Shirin awaits’ in which the figure in a white turban bearing a large platter on the right hand edge of the painting, or the depiction of Burzuy from the same manuscript (Martin Bernard Dickson and Stuart Cary Welch, The Houghton Shahnama, Massachusetts and London, 1981, vol.1, fig.133, p.97 and fig.147, p.106).
The subject of a horseman encountering a ferocious dragon was a popular one with Persian draughtsmen. A version attributed to Sadiqi is in the Aga Khan Collection (Anthony Welch and Stuart Cary Welch, Arts of the Islamic Book,New York, 1982, no.31). Another – attributable to Siyawush – is in the Art and History Trust Collection (Soudavar, op.cit, no.102, p.255).
In the last quarter of the 16th century Sadiqi Beg, the head of the royal library-atelier of Shah Abbas, wrote on the conventions of border design in a treatise called The Canons of Painting. In it he noted, “to avoid being misled you should seek out the school of Aqa Mirak…There is a double configuration commonly called girift-o gir, which is to say, the “give and take” of animals locked in battle…You must at all costs avoid any bodily slackness in your figures…both bodies must be shown wholly at grips with one another” (Dickson and Welch, op.cit., vol.1, pp.96-117). Although locked in battle with a horseman as opposed to another animal, our drawing shows exactly the dynamism and precision that Sadeqi Beg describes.
Amir Khusraw Dihlawi (D. AH 725/1324-25): Khamsa, Safavid Shiraz, Iran, circa 1580. Estimate £100,000 – £150,000 ($163,600 – $245,400). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Poetry, Persian manuscript on gold-sprinkled paper, 233ff. each with 19ll. of elegant black nasta’liq arranged in four columns with gold and blue intercolumnar rules, headings in white on gold and polychrome illuminated panels, text blocks outlined in gold and polychrome, folios with further gold outer rule, 19 contemporaneous paintings, the folios facing paintings with text in clouds reserved against gold and polychrome ground, four double page illuminations in gold and polychrome each surrounding text in clouds reserved against gold and polychrome ground, incomplete at beginning, a few folios missing before the Iskandanama, final folio with later owner’s notes and stickers, in contemporaneous brown morocco with flap, decorated with elegant gold-stamped panels and decoupé central medallion and spandrels, the doublures of red morocco with gilt central floral rosette, the inside of the flap with elegant lacquered landscape. Text panel 7 7/8 x 4 1/8in. (20 x 10.3cm.); folio 13 5/8 x 8½in. (34.6 x 21.4cm.)
Provenance: Collection de S.E. le Prince X, sold Hotel Drouot, Paris, 10 March 1976, lot 15
Notes: The illustrations included this manuscript are as follows:
1. The abstemious hermit is questioned by Khezr about his alleged wine-drinking
2. The widow laments her son who was killed by the King out hunting who mistook him for a bird
3. Khusraw before Shirin’s palace
4. Shirin inspects the canal dug by Khusraw
5. Khusraw arrives at Shirin’s palace
6. Khusraw and Shirin united
7. Layla and Majnun at school
8. The battle between the tribes of Layla and Majnun
9. Layla takes Majnun’s head on her lap and weeps
10. The Farangis lasso the Chinese warrior Palanguy
11. Iskandar pitches camp with Khizir and Ilyas and the local inhabitants approach to complain of Yajuj
12. Alexander orders the scribe to recount the marvels of the sea
13. Bahram Gur hunting
14. Bahram Gur in the yellow pavilion
15. Bahram Gur in the green pavilion
16. Bahram Gur in the pomegranate-flower coloured (Gulnari) pavilion
17. Bahram Gur in the violet pavilion
18. Bahram Gur in the sandalwood pavilion
19. Bahram Gur in the camphor-coloured pavilion
This heavily illustrated manuscript is a visually arresting example of the intricate decorative details which adorn Shiraz manuscript illustrations in the last quarter of the 16th century. The fourth painting of our manuscript which depicts the meeting of Khusraw and Shirin illustrates the figures wearing variously coloured robes each intricately decorated with gold palmettes or scrolling floral vine. This level of costume detail is echoed in a garden scene from a Khamsa of Nizami copied in Shiraz and dated to 1584, now in the collection of the University of Pennsylvania (Laurence Binyon, J.V.S.Wilkinson and Basil Gray, Persian Miniature Painting, New York, 1971 reprint, no.223, plate.CII-A).
The theme of palmettes is carried through to the decoration of the architecture found on the 6th painting of this manuscript. The archway behind the embracing couple is bordered by a panel of blue and red palmettes issuing from scrolling blue vine on a pink background. This decoration is almost identical to that found in an illustration to aKhamsa of Nizami in the Library of the Topkapi attributed by Lale Uluç to Shiraz circa 1580-85 (Inv. A.3559; fol. 261r. Lale Uluç, Turkman Governors Shiraz Artisans and Ottoman collectors: Sixteenth Century Shiraz Manuscripts, Istanbul 2006, no.297, p.393). Our painting and that illustrated by Uluç also depict a row of fluted gold vessels set in cusped arches which are very closely related.
The character of Shirin is depicted in our manuscript wearing a very distinctive crown with long curved finials which terminate in a split palmette. This form of crown is closely paralleled in a depiction of the Princess of the white pavilion in a copy of the Khamsa of Nizami in the John Rylands Library and attributed by B.W. Robinson to circa 1575 Shiraz (B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library, London, 1980, no. 649, p. 218).
An Iranian dagger, the hilt made of lapis lazuli and the blade a fine example of ‘Damascus’ steel is illustrated on the cover of the South Kensington sale catalogue. The blade is deeply carved with inscriptions, and the quality of the piece suggests it may well have been a princely commission (estimate: £5,000-7,000). The piece is signed and the maker was known to have made armour for the Iranian ruler Nadir Shah Asshar (r. 1736-47). The sale includes a variety of manuscripts with Qu’ranic material, scientific texts and calligraphy all well represented, many from private collections.
A fine lapis-lazuli hilted watered-steel dagger (kard), signed ‘Abbas Ghulam Shah, Afsharid or Zand, Iran, 18th century. Estimate £5,000 – £7,000 ($8,180 – $11,452). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Of typical form, the blade deeply engraved with calligraphic inscriptions within a foliated scrollwork, the forte with an elegant scrolling tendril forming palmettes, the hilt with lapis-lazuli grip, the spine gold-damascened with further scroollwork, very good condition; 12 ¼in. (31cm.) long.
Notes: Ghulam ‘Abbas Shah made a sword for Nadir Shah Afshar, the Iranian ruler of the Afsharid dynasty (r. 1736-47 AD), which sold at Christie’s, 10 April 2014, lot 94. The quality of the present blade, forged and carved with calligraphic inscriptions and palmette scrolls certainly indicateS a princely commission.
The Ottoman Empire
Of the Ottoman carpets in the Oriental Rugs and Carpets sale, the highlight is undoubtedly lot 25 the exceptionally long ‘Lotto’ carpet – a magnificent example belonging to a rare group of large format ‘Lotto’ carpets. The ‘Lotto’ carpets are named after the Italian Renaissance artist, Lorenzo Lotto, who included a number of these carpets in his compositions. A similar example to our carpet is displayed in the Bargello Museum in Florence. Another highlight is lot 24, a Cairene medallion rug, the design of which is more commonly found in Cairene prayer rugs. This rug is exceptionally drawn and demonstrates how Cairo’s carpet workshops adapted to accommodate the taste of the new Ottoman regime after the fall of the Mamluk dynasty, combining Turkish design aesthetics with the materials and techniques of Mamluk carpet production. Lot 23 is one from a small group of Karapinar rugs woven in Central Anatolia in the late 17th or early 18th century. The refined silhouette and striking use of colour make this a particularly beautiful example (estimate: £20,000-30,000). Much later in date are the highly sophisticated silk and metal-thread Koum Kapi rugs woven at the beginning of the 20th century. Named after the area in Istanbul where the Armenian weavers based themselves, the Koum Kapi weavings are renowned for their extraordinary finesse and technical brilliance, and often directly copying the 16th century Persian designs that became widely available from the late 19th century due to their publication in books on Oriental Carpets. Lot 112 is an exceptional Koum Kapi with a wide variety of brocaded details (estimate: £30,000-50,000).
A ‘Lotto’ carpet, probably Ushak, West Anatolia, Late 16th century. Estimate £250,000 – £350,000 ($409,000 – $572,600). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Uneven overall wear, scattered small repairs, localised staining, some loss to all four sides; 19ft.1in. x 9ft. (580cm. x 272cm.).
Provenance: Purchased from Elio Cittone, Milan, circa 1968
Notes: The vast majority of the Lotto rugs that survive are small scale, jewel-like weavings, no larger than seven feet in length. This magnificent carpet belongs to a rare group of large format Lotto carpets that were most likely woven as special commissions in the second half of the 16th century. The majority of the group are now in important museum collections and arguably the most famous of the group is the carpet in the Bargello, Florence. In his article ‘Patterns of Patronage; Classical Carpets in the Bargello Museum, Florence’, Hali 83, October/November 1995, p.80-87, Carlo Suriano discusses the Bargello Lotto and lists twelve other related examples, including a number of fragments. The field design of all of the carpets in the group conforms to the ‘Anatolian’ type as defined by Charles Grant Ellis in his article, ‘The ‘Lotto’ Pattern as a Fashion in Carpets’. Festschrift für Peter Wilhelm Meister, 1975, pp.19-31, with minor variations in width and alignment. Apart from the wide ‘Anatolian’ field designs, the group is distinguished by an imposing full cartouche border of which there are two different variants. The first is the type found in the Bargello carpet which has a simple barbed cruciform motif in the centre of the cartouche, resembling a compass. The second type of ornament is the variant found on our carpet, whose central motifs of the cartouche border alternate between hourglass shapes and a star-shaped motif reminiscent of a crab rosette. Only one carpet in the group has a cartouche border that uses a combination of the two types of ornament, the carpet illustrated on the cover of Giuseppe Cohen, Il Fascino del Tappeto Orientale, Milan, 1968, pl. XXVI. Of the carpets listed by Carlo Suriano the present example is most closely related to the Bausback Lotto carpet, published in Kurt Erdmann, The Early Turkish Carpet, London, 1977, pl.1, and the incomplete Lotto carpet in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch at Boughton House, exhibited in the 1983 exhibition, The Eastern Carpet in the Western World (see Donald King and David Sylvester, The Eastern Carpet in the Western World, London, 1983, fig.32, p.68). All three carpets share a teal coloured border with the more dynamic alternating variant of the cartouche border, outlined in an electric light blue.
The Lotto carpets are named after the Venetian High Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto (circa 1480 – 1557), who painted two of the small scale arabesque rugs in his paintings, Sant’Antonio Elemosinario, 1540 and Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children, 1547. Although named after Lorenzo Lotto, these iconic rugs were first depicted in an European painting over twenty years earlier and continued to be depicted well into the 18th century, see John Mills, »Lotto’ carpets in Western Paintings’, Hali, vol.3, no.4, pp.278-289. The only painting to depict a similar large format carpet to the group is the Robert Peake the Elder’s 1610 portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales in the National Portrait Gallery, London, which precisely depicts a large carpet with a complete cartouche border with central compass point ornaments. A corner of a closely related border to that of our carpet appears depicted in Anthony Van Dyck’s 1635 portrait, Anna van Craesbeke (John Mills, ibid. fig.53, pp.284-285).
In his seminal book, The Early Turkish Carpet, op.cit., Kurt Erdmann suggested the origins of Lotto arabesque lattice lie in the design of the small pattern Holbein rugs. Deliberately avoiding the term ‘Lotto’ when writing about the group, he referred to the arabesque lattice carpets as Holbein II interpreting the lattice of the Lotto pattern as being a relaxed or open variant of the small pattern Holbein design. Interestingly, the survival of an extraordinary 14th or 15th century Tumurid carpet fragment in the Benaki Museum, Athens lends credence to this idea. The enclosed geometric golden lattice superimposed on a burgundy field provides a clear design origin for both the small-pattern Holbein and Lotto designs (see Carlo Suriano, op. cit. pp.80-87). Similarly, the three 15th century Timurid carved wooden panels offered in these Rooms, 10 April 2014, lots 55, 56 and 57, give a tantalising glimpse of Lotto pattern. In these panels there is a suggestion of an embryonic arabesque lattice in the blunt-edged ornament, the tight curls on the stems and the bisected heart-shaped motifs.
The discovery of this Lotto carpet, which has remained in the same private collection for nearly half a century, is an important addition to the published group.
A Cairene rug, Ottoman Egypt, Late 16th or early 17th century. Estimate £50,000 – £80,000 ($81,800 – $130,880). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Light even overall wear, localised corrosion in the red with associated repiling, a few small repairs, a couple of very small holes, some minor loss to each end, overall good condition; 6ft.5in. x 4ft.7in. (196cm. x 139cm.).
Notes: After the fall of the Mamluk dynasty in 1517, Cairo’s carpet workshops had to adapt to accommodate the taste of the new Ottoman regime and began to combine Turkish design aesthetics with the materials and techniques of Mamluk carpet production. This can clearly be seen in the present rug, which retains the Mamluk palette of greens, blues and reds and the same soft, silky wool, but the design is very different. The intricate, geometric designs of the Mamluk carpets have been eschewed in favour of curvilinear drawing, naturalistic floral forms and sickle leaves forming a happy marriage of two artistic traditions creating some of the most elegant carpets that survive today.
The designs for these new Ottoman Cairene carpets were probably created by the Imperial workshop or nakkashane in Istanbul. The nakkashane was the body responsible for the creation of designs for textiles and ceramics of the Ottoman court and these designs were then sent out across the Ottoman Empire, (see Walter Denny ‘Textiles’, in Tulips, Arabesques and Turbans, London, 1982, pp.125-126). This centralization of design and the success of the elegant floral forms led to similar motifs being used across a range of different media. The design of the central wreath medallion is a good example of this design dissemination as it appears in a number of other contemporaneous artistic disciplines such as the Iznik tile panels at the tomb of Selim II in Istanbul, that date to the last quarter of the 16th century (Ertug and Kacabiyik, Gardens of Paradise, 16th century Turkish Ceramic Tile Decoration, Istanbul, 1998, pl.51, p.98) and in a repeated pattern on a number of silk textiles (Nurhan Atasoy, Ipek: The Cresent and the Rose, Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets, Istanbul, pl.54-58, pp.104-109).
Comparable carpets have been found for the different individual elements of the present lot but we have been unable to find another rug that combines all these design elements in one weaving. The scale of the drawing and the organisation of the field design is very closely related to the Dirksen Cairene carpet, sold in these Rooms, 8 April 2014, lot 22 and a Cairene carpet in the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Inv. no. T8344/1922 KB, which also has identical ogival spandrels to the present lot. (Angela Volker, Die orientalischen Knüpfteppiche im MAK, Vienna, 2001, pl.9. p.65). Another carpet, from the Bernheimer Family Collection of Carpets, sold in these Rooms, 14 February 1996, lot 83, has a very similar small format and rhythm to the field, although the drawing appears more cramped than the other two examples. While all three of these comparable carpets have different circular medallions, they all have in common a field design that appears as an endless repeat of symmetrical ‘S’ scroll stems and rosettes resolving in twinned sickle leaves, with the medallion and spandrels superimposed on top of the tracery, see Serare Yetkin,Historical Turkish Carpets, Istanbul, 1980, fig.35 and 36, pp.113-115.
The wreath medallion of the present lot is more commonly found in prayer rug format such as the wonderfully elegant Sultan Ahmet I prayer rug in the Topkapi Saray Museum (Hülye Tezcan, The Topkapi Saray Museum Carpets, London, 1987, pl.1). The Topkapi example appears to be the earliest form of this wreath medallion and is very precisely drawn. It has a very similar border to the present lot and the original form of the diamond-shaped medallion would have appeared much closer to the present example before it was reduced down the central vertical axis. Three additional related prayer rugs with wreath medallions are illustrated in Charles Grant Ellis’s article, ‘The Ottoman Prayer Rugs’, The Textile Museum Journal, Vol II, No.4, Washington DC, 1969, pp.10-14. These are the Benguiat prayer rug, now in the Textile Museum, Washington DC (Inv.no. 1967.24.1), an example in the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein and the prayer rug in the Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin (Inv. no.77.321). One of the most appealing details on our rug is the inclusion of the beautiful cintamani inner minor stripe. This charming design is also rather idiosyncratic in the present rug; at two points on one side and one point on the other side the wave motifs confront each other and subsequently change direction. A similar cintamani minor stripe can be found on a number of 16th century Ottoman carpets such as the beautiful fragment in the Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna (Angela Volker, ibid., pl.7, p.59, Inv. no. Or 374/1888/1907 HM), but without the slightly quirky rhythm.
A Karapinar rug, Konya District, Central Anatolia, Late 17th or early 18th century. Estimate £20,000 – £30,000 ($32,720 – $49,080). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Light overall wear, corroded brown, scattered repiling and restoration; 7ft.6in. x 4ft.10in. (228cm. x 147cm.)
Notes: This splendid rug belongs to a small group of carpets from central Anatolia, characterised by their bold angular design, elegant palette and the use of Ottoman floral motifs. Variously attributed to Konya and Karapinar, the earliest of the group date from the late 16th century. They were first identified and discussed by May H. Beattie in her article ‘Some Rugs of the Konya Region’, Oriental Art, Vol.XXII, no.1, pp.60-76. The border of our rug is very similar to a rug in the Textile Museum, Washington DC, illustrated in May Beattier, ibid, fig.10, p.66. In her article May Beattie proposed the theory that the designs of these unusual rugs derived from Ottoman kilim tent furnishings whose designs of stylised tulips, snaking ribbons, cloud bands and floral designs are very similar. The correlation between the ornamentation of these flatweaves, which lack contouring outlines framing the different design elements, and the present group is undeniable, but the origin of the design is much less clear.
One of the most striking features of the present lot is the unusual golden band in the field overlaid with red arabesque tracery. This band which encircles the central medallion and links to bisected smaller cusped medallions on all four sides, appears to have its origins in the strapwork designs of earlier Persian 16th century silk Kashan rugs such as the example in the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, Coimbra, (Jessica Hallett, ‘From the Looms of Yazd and Isfahan’, in Jon Thompson, Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World, Oxford, 2010, fig.5, p.100). This unusual design is shared by a very small number of Anatolian weavings; the extraordinary Ushak fragment sold in these Rooms, 4 October 2011, lot 50 as well as a rare group of four brown-ground Central Anatolian Village rugs. These are the Ballard rug that was sold in Sotheby’s New York, 31 January 2014, lot 120, the rug formerly in the Jacoby Collection and now in the City Art Museum St. Louis, a rug published by Eberhart Herrmann in Seltene Orientteppiche, X, Munich, 1988, pl.17, pp. 46-47 and a fragment advertised by Galerie Sailer in Hali 38, March/April 1988, p.23. The present lot has a crispness of drawing and design that appears to be an intermediary stage in the design transmission from the sophisticated and finely drawn details of the Ushak fragment to the more naïve treatment of the design in the brown-ground Village weavings. The treatment of the red tracery and the cusped profile of the central medallion of our rug is very closely related to the Ushak fragment and yet elements of the design such as the paired sickle leaves at each end of the medallion and the angular vine in the field are very similar to the Konya rugs.
Whilst the field design of the present lot is more densely ornamented than many rugs in the group, in both its colouration and drawing it relates to a some of the most beautiful examples such as the Bernheimer rug, sold in these Rooms, 14 February 1996, lot 130 and the exquisite triple medallion carpet published in Jon Thompson, Milestones in the History of Carpets, Milan, 2006, no.26, pp.226-235.
A signed silk and metal-thread Koum Kapi rug, signed, Istanbul, Turkey, circa 1920. Estimate £30,000 – £50,000 ($49,080 – $81,800). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014
Of ‘Clam Gallus’ design, finely woven, overall excellent condition; 7ft.7in. x 5ft.1in. (229cm. x 153cm.)
Provenance: Included in Sotheby’s cancelled sale, Oriental Silk Carpets From the Private Collection of a European Gentleman, Hotel des Bergues, Geneva, 12 May 1983, lot 13
Purchased by the present owner in November 1984
Notes: The knot count is approximately 11V x 11H per cm. sq.
The Armenian workshops of the Koum Kapi area of Istanbul were responsible for the production of arguably the most beautiful silk carpets of the 20th century, inspired by the renewed interest in and publication of the classical weavings of the 16th and 17th century. The design of the present rug is copied from the famous Clam Gallus carpet in the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Inv. no. T 9026/1941, a 16th century Safavid carpet woven in Herat in North East Persia. The Clam Gallus carpet was published in all the important carpet publications of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as The Vienna Book (lot 1 in the present sale), F.R. Martin, A History of Oriental Carpets before 1800, Vienna, 1908 and Sarre and Trenkwald, Old Oriental Carpets, Vienna and Liepzig, 1926. Interestingly, in each of these publications only a quarter of the carpet was illustrated and it is this truncation in the coloured plates that explains the proportions of the present rug.
The quality of the weaving and drawing of the present lot is exceptional. The finesse of the rug brings to mind the best production of the workshop of the master weaver Zareh Penyamin (see lot 110 in the present sale). However, the signature is not that of Zareh but rather that of an unknown master and is found in the very centre of the rug, in a star-shaped cartouche, worked in blue silk on a metal-thread ground. The intricacy of the flat woven metal-thread details across the rug, supplemented with coloured silk, are exquisite (please see the detail on p.8) and very similar to the two spectacular unsigned Koum Kapi carpets sold in these Rooms on 24 April 2012, lot 50 and the 23 April 2013, lot 25. The appearance of this new signature raises two questions; are the carpets that we would usually attribute to Zareh Penyamin on the grounds of their quality in fact are the work of an entirely different master and how many master weavers are we yet to discover?
Following the record-breaking sale of a remarkable early Iznik bowl last season for £1.4million, the King Street sale will include a very rare mid-15th century dish, which is one of the earliest surviving Ottoman pottery vessels. Although tiles from this period are known almost no pottery vessels survive. A number of the decorative elements on our dish, such as the elegant cypress trees, later become popular in the famous pottery of Iznik but their appearance here is amongst the earliest known. It was discovered by Christie’s team recently in a private Greek collection. It is estimated at £120,000-180,000. The sale also features two private collections of Iznik which include a striking fish scale dish from 1580 (£25,000-35,000), a large Iznik pottery tankard decorated with repeated bands of clouds (estimate: £15,000-25,000) and a tile spandrel (shown here: £20,000-30,000).
An important early Ottoman blue and white pottery dish, probably Edirne or Bursa, mid 15th century. Estimate £120,000 – £180,000 ($196,320 – $294,480). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014.
With sloping sides and cusped rim on short foot, the white ground painted in deep blue with a large cusped palmette issuing from a stylised Chinese ribbon motif and sprouting another fleshy palmette, all surrounded by flowing vine with small curled leaves and flowerheads, the cavetto with large palmettes issuing cusped foliage alternating with tall elegant cypress trees, the rim with a band of stylised interlocking cloudbands and a band of small dotted motifs, the exterior with scrolling vine issuing palmettes bordered above and below by cusped bands, intact with minor chips to the rim; 17¾in. (45.2cm.) diam.
Property from a Private Greek Collection
Notes: This important dish is one of the earliest surviving Ottoman pottery vessels.
Like both the pottery of Timurid Iran and Ottoman Iznik, our dish is obviously stylistically inspired by the decoration of the Chinese porcelain that was so prized in the Persian and Turkish courts from the 14th century. A 14th century Ming dish that feels very close to ours in overall conceit, as well as in many of the individual details, such as the band around the cavetto which closely resembles the exterior of our bowl, was in the collection of Henri Pharaon (John A. Pope, ‘Chinese Influences on Iznik Pottery: A Re-examination of an Old Problem’, in Richard Ettinghausen (ed.), Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1972, pl.15a, p.124). It is tempting to suggest that its presence in a Lebanese collection means that it is one of the dishes that the potters of the Islamic world may have encountered. A dish from the Hongwu period, Ming dynasty (1368-98), has a very similar rim to ous, decorated with alternating scrolling motifs (Geng Bao Chang, Qing hua you li hong. shang shang, Shanghai, 2000, no. 20, p.22). A more unusual feature on our dish is the root-like motif found beneath the lower fleshy lotus flower. It has been suggested that that is probably a development of the ribbon often found on Ming ceramics (see for example an early 15th century dish published in Sir Harry Garner, Oriental Blue & White, London, 1970, no.13). The potter responsible for our dish was clearly exposed to these Chinese imports, and inspired by them.
The glaze of our dish is thick and opaque, demonstrated on the rim where in a few places it has chipped off leaving the original clay surface intact. In this, it relates most closely to a group of Islamic imitation celadon wares (see for example a dish sold in these Rooms, 27 April 2004, lot 96). The attribution of that small group has been disputed, although they are generally thought to be from the Iranian rather than the Ottoman world, probably dating to the mid-15th century. Apart from in that small feature however, our dish clearly differs from the Persian pottery of the 15th century. In their seminal work on Timurid pottery, Lisa Golombek, Robert B. Mason and Gauvin A. Bailey talk of a “precise” style found on a small number of dishes (Golombek et al., Tamerlane’s Tableware, Toronto, 1996, pls.62-67). With some confidence they attribute the majority of the group to Tabriz. Their ‘Tabriz’ dishes, like ours, are characterized by very high quality Yuan or early Ming style decoration but most have a marked crackelure in the glaze, typical of Timurid pottery but very unlike ours. However, one dish included in that group by Golombek et al, is slightly different. Not only does it have a smooth glaze, like ours, but it was tested and has a similar petrofabric to that found in Iznik pottery (1978.1484, published in colour in James W. Allan, Islamic Ceramics, Oxford, 1991, no.31, pp.52-53). That example, in the Ashmolean Museum, led Golombek et al to broaden the attribution of this “precise” group to Tabriz or Iznik, late fifteenth century (Golombek et al, op.cit., p.120).
The Ashmolean dish shares a number of features with ours, and provides perhaps the closest comparable. Not only is it almost exactly the same size (42cm. in diameter) and uses the same deep blue but, like our dish, the designs show obvious parallels with subsequent Iznik decoration. The fleshy floral sprays around the cavetto are very similar to those found alternated with cypress trees in our dish. The thin ‘comma-shaped’ leaves which spring from the floral scroll at the centre of the Ashmolean dish are also not dissimilar from those found at the bases of each cypress tree on ours. The cypress tree on our dish is a feature never found on Timurid pottery but one which becomes popular in Iznik and as part of the Ottoman decorative repertoire. The cypresses are found on early Iznik vessels – for example on a bowl sold in these Rooms, 10 April 2014, lot 188 or on a flask, attributed to circa 1480 now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (inv.no.PO.005.97; John Carswell, Iznik Pottery for the Ottoman Empire, exhibition catalogue, Doha, 2003, no.21, no.1, pp.22-25). As on both of these examples, our cypresses are carefully filled in with thin vertical lines (in the bowl and flask then painted over by curls), and gently break the confines of the borders set for them by a few millimetres. Both the Ashmolean dish and ours have designs clearly organised into three registers, and divided by paired blue lines. The wave and rock border on the Ashmolean dish, though different to ours, is a clear nod towards the wave and rock borders found on Chinese porcelain, and later so popular in Iznik. All of these individually separate points seem decisively to link the two dishes to Turkey rather than Iran.
Apart from Miletus ware, very few ceramic vessels are attributed with any certainty to Ottoman Turkey in the period between 1420 and 1470. Most of we know of the ceramic production of the period stems mainly from tiles of Edirne and Bursa – and there our dish again finds close comparable examples.
After the defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Ankara in 1402, Timur bought craftsmen back with him to Samarqand. Amongst these was the designer Nakkas Ali who, on the return to his homeland, supervised the building of the mosque and tomb complex of Mehmed I in Bursa, between 1419 and 1424. The style that these artists bought back to Turkey from Iran and Central Asia is known as the ‘international Timurid style’ and was characterised by organic floral and foliate designs that synthesise traditional ‘Islamic’ motifs such as arabesques with Chinese-inspired designs (Venetia Porter, Islamic Tiles, London, 1995, p.99). In this melting-pot of Ottoman, Chinese and Persian styles it seems most likely that our dish was created.
The aesthetic of the tiles in the Mehmed I complex, though very different to ours, was very Iranian and can only have been inspired by the tiles of contemporary Samarqand and Herat. A Persian inscription on the tiles of the mihrab of the Yesil Cami (Green Mosque), ‘amal-i ustadan-i Tabriz , ‘made by the masters of Tabriz’, confirms that Persian craftsmen were unquestionably involved in the building’s decoration (Porter, op.cit., p.99). Over the next fifty years, the ‘masters of Tabriz’ worked on various buildings in Turkey. These included the tiles of the Complex of Murad II in Bursa in 1425 and a series of buildings in Edirne including the Sah Melek Pasa Cami in 1429, the Üç Serefeli mosque between 1438 and 1448 and, perhaps most notably, the mosque of Murad II in 1436. The lower walls of the latter were decorated with a lattice of hexagonal blue and white tiles, each decorated with a wide variety of chinoiserie floral motifs, closely related to those of our dish (illustrated in Gérard Degeorge and Yves Porter, The Art of the Islamic Tile, Paris, 2002, p.196). Both our dish and the Murad II tiles distinctively outline many of their cobalt-blue floral forms with thin white borders – as on the upper palmette on our dish and the small rounded pomegranate-like motifs. Similarly the small curling leaves that spring from the vines are closely comparable. The deep blue used on a number of those tiles also relates them to our dish.
Although the work of itinerant Iranian craftsmen is not known solely though the work of the ‘masters of Tabriz’ (tile cutters from Khorassan are, for instance, thought to have worked on the ?inili Kösk in the grounds of the Topkapi Saray in 1472), the known work that they produced does seem to be limited to architectural cladding. Few or no vessels produced by them seem to have survived. The technology and skill required to produce them clearly existed however, and so there is no obvious explanation for this. Though no precise comparables for our dish are known, the closest parallels are certainly to be drawn with the Ottoman pottery of the 15th century. A number of our motifs make their first appearance with the work of the ‘masters of Tabriz’, mature over the century and are later perfected by the potters of Iznik. It seems likely that our dish was an early, and successful, experiment.
An Iznik pottery dish, Ottoman Turkey, circa 1580. Estimate £25,000 – £35,000 ($40,900 – $57,260). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014.
Of shallow form with sloping rim on short foot, the white interior decorated in cobalt-blue, green, bole-red and black with a central roundel filled with panels of green and blue fish-scale motif divided by red and white arabesques, four half-palmettes filled with red fish-scale around the edge of the roundel, surrounded by alternating blue and red cusped motifs within an outer rim with trefoils reserved against cobalt-blue ground, the exterior with alternating flowerheads and floral sprays in blue and green between plain blue lines, old collection label to the base, foot drilled; 12¼in. (31.1cm.) diam.
Provenance: Anon sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 30 May 1986, lot 136
Literature: Walter B. Denny, Ottoman Treasures: Rugs and Ceramics from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price, Birmingham Museum of Art, 2004, fig. 18, p.15
Exhibited: Ottoman Treasures: Rugs and Ceramics from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price, Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 2004 , cat.41
Notes: The use of the elegant fish scale pattern which covers the ground of this dish is first found decorating a jug in the form of a fish in the Benaki Museum, Athens, which dates to the 1520’s (inv.no.10, Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik, the Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, no.451, pl.124, p.106). The scale pattern was probably inspired by early 16th century Deruta majolica although its use can be seen in Islamic art on a 15th century twin dragon headed candlestick from Khorassan in the David Collection (Kjeld von Folsach, Islamic Art, Copenhagen, 1990, no.346, p.207). In the late 1570s and 80s it became popular to enliven the background of vessels with fishscale motif, as seen here.
The practice of separating panels of fish scale with saz leaves or arabesque, as on our dish, also became popular. The technique can be seen on a water bottle in the British Museum dating to 1580-85 (inv.no.G.1983.83, Atasoy and Raby,op.cit., p.l.745). A dish of similar shallow form to ours, and also decorated in fish scale with elegant arabesques is in the Louvre (inv.OA 7880/28; 3 Capitals of Islamic Art. Masterpieces from the Louvre Collection, exhibition catalogue, Istanbul, 2008, no.38B, pp.140-41).
A large Iznik pottery tankard, Ottoman Turkey, circa 1580. Estimate £25,000 – £35,000 ($40,900 – $57,260). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014.
Of typical form with angular handle, the white ground decorated in turquoise, cobalt-blue and bole-red with repeating bands of small turquoise cloud motifs joined by cobalt-blue dots, bands of red and white strapwork above and below, the handle with cobalt-blue accents, rim chips with small areas of restoration; 7½in. (19.2cm.) high; 4¾in. (12cm.) diam. at rim
Provenance: Dr. Josef Kranz, Vienna,
Sold Rudolph Lepke’s Kunst-Auction-Haus, Berlin, 8 November 1927, no.21,
Anon sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 30 May 1986, lot 115
Exhibited: Ottoman Treasures: Rugs and Ceramics from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price, Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 2004, no.43
Notes: Fragments from Iznik tankards with similar cloud decoration were found in the excavations at Iznik (Oktay Aslanapa, Serare Yetkin and Ara Altun, The Iznik Tile Kiln Excavations (The Second Round: 1981-1988), Ankara, 1989, p.247).
An Iznik pottery tile spandrel, Ottoman Turkey, circa 1575. Estimate £25,000 – £35,000 ($40,900 – $57,260). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014.
Of cusped form, the white ground painted in two tones of blue, green, bole-red and brown with a flowering prunus overlaid at the base with a tulip and carnation spray, a red band around the inner edge and a plain brown line framing the other edges, the inner edge with a band of blue and red cusped motifs, repaired break, minor areas of restoration, in fitted wooden frame with stand; 22½ x 14½in. (57.2 x 36.8cm.)
Provenance: European private collection formed before 1950s
Notes: Decorated spandrels were in use in Turkish architecture from as early as the Seljuk period – for example those from the Kubadabad palace at Beysehir which are in stucco and decorated with peacocks (The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, exhibition catalogue, Sydney, 2000, no.79, pp.92-93). Iznik tiles later became a popular method of decorating these spaces and Iznik tile spandrels now exist in several museum collections including those in Istanbul, New York, London, Copenhagen, Paris and Kuwait.
A particularly similar spandrel, although forming the left hand side of an arch, is in the ?inili Kösk (Esin Atil (trans.),The Anatolian Civilisations III, exhibition catalogue, Istanbul, 1983, cat.E.170, p.208). Like ours, the ?inili Kösk tile has a brown outer border, red inner border and although it is not obvious in the catalogue image, also a series of ‘trefoils or crenellations’ along the inner edge.
In the South Kensington sale is a manuscript offering prayers in honour of the Prophet Muhammad, with a number of illuminations including that of the two Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina. Dating from 1762-63, the manuscript was written and illustrated in Turkey and is estimated at £5,000-8,000.
Muhammad Bin Sulayman Al-Jazuli (D. 1465 Ad): Dala’il Al-Khayrat , signed Ibrahim Na’ili, Ottoman Turkey, dated AH 1176/1762-63 AD. Estimate £5,000 – £8,000 ($8,180 – $13,088). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2014.
Prayers in honour of the Prophet Muhammad, Arabic manuscript on paper, 116ff. plus five fly-leaves, each folio with 11ll. of elegant black naskh script, with gold and polychrome rosette verse markers, some words picked out in red, text within gold, black and red rules, including three finely illuminated headpieces, a number of illuminated title cartouches and two depictions of the Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina and the Tomb of the Prophet in Medina, some folios with illuminated marginal medallions, notes in red and black naskh script, catchwords, colophon signed and dated, in original tooled and stamped gilt brown morocco binding with flap, with gilt doublures, occasional repairs, otherwise in very good condition. Text panel 4 3/8 x 2 ¼in. (11.1 x 5.7cm.); folio 6 ½ x 4 ½in. (16.7 x 11.3cm.)