Illuminated border from a royal copy of the Garshaspnama, India, Mughal, circa 1610
This very finely decorated border comes from a manuscript of the Garshaspnama probably executed for the emperor Jahangir around 1610. The manuscript has been referred to most frequently as a Shahnama, but in a recent Sotheby's catalogue it was stated that the text was the Garshaspnama of Hakim Abu `Ali bin Ahmad Asadi Tusi, an epic tale written wholly in the style of Firdausi's Shahnama (see below). The style of the borders is close to that of the Farhang-i Jahangiri, the royal dictionary written for Jahangir in 1608 by Jamal al-Din Husain Inju (see lot 34 in this sale), but while the paper of the latter is ivory-coloured, the paper of the Garshaspnama borders is a sightly darker buff in colour.
There are seven complete text folios from the Garshaspnama in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (11A.34, see Leach 1995, pp.327-9), and other text folios have appeared at auction as follows: Sotheby's, London, 7th April 1975, lot 14, this item sold again at Christie's, London, 26th April 2005, lot 239; Sotheby's, London, 12th April 1976, lot 4, 23rd April 1979, lot 36. A handful of illustrated pages survive, including one in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Pal 1993, no.68), one in the Cleveland Museum of Art (45.171, Leach 1986, no.21), two sold by P and D Colnaghi in 1976 (Persian and Mughal Art, no.88), and one sold at Sotheby's, London, 7th December 1971, lot 188A, and again 28th April 2004, lot 57.
The fact that the present border has been separated from its text/miniature, the paper split, and then mounted on a plain sheet of paper points to the previous ownership of either Hagop Kevorkian or Georges Demotte (or both), who were in the habit of cutting the borders from one manuscript and re-using them for illustrations from another (see lot 34 in this sale).