Lot 1
  • 1

A double-sided frontispiece page from a Qur'an, the illumination signed by Muhammad Ibn Uthman Ibn al-Husayn, Seljuk, Zangid or Ayyubid, late 12th/early 13th century AD

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
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  • ink and gold on paper
gold and gouache on paper

Catalogue Note

This finely illuminated opening folio from a Qur’an is highly important due to the presence of the signature of the illuminator, making it one of the earliest signed examples of Islamic illumination known. In the four corner squares on the verso are the words: “dhahabahu/Muhammad/Ibn Uthman/Ibn al-Husayn”. The style of the illumination is also very interesting. It is close to Seljuk work of the late twelfth century, but also retains elements of Ghaznavid and earlier Seljuk style and anticipates certain characteristics of Ayyubid and early Mamluk work. A close comparison is the well-known Qur’an in the Philadelphia University Museum (NEP27), produced at Hamadan in 559/1164 (see http://www.penn.museum/collections/object/283157), which, significantly, is also signed by an illuminator - Mahmud Ibn al-Husayn al-Kirmani. It is notable that the name al-Husayn occurs in the lineage of both these illuminators, who were working in a related style at a similar period. It is thus possible that they both came from the same family, one generation apart. For other Qur’ans with related illumination see Lings 2005, nos.16, 17, 18, 21, 29, and James 1988, figs.21, 23, 32, London 1976, no.514, p.322, Curatola et al 2010, nos.196, 197, 215, pp.213, 214, 232.

Sotheby’s is grateful to Marcus Fraser for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.