AN ILLUMINATED QUR’AN, COPIED BY ‘ABD AL-LATIF AL-SAYFI UZBEK, EGYPT, MAMLUK, DATED 876 AH/1472 AD
Arabic manuscript on paper, 282 leaves plus 2 fly-leaves, 12 lines to the page, written in naskh in black ink, verses separated by three inverted red commas, surah headings in red riqa, f.1a with a blue and gold shamsa, ff.1b and 2a with an illuminated frontispiece, f.282a with the end of surah al-Nas and the colophon ruled in gold and interspersed by gold and polychrome rosettes, f.282b with a shamsa bearing an endowment note, in a red leather modern binding, with flap
35.1 by 27.5cm.
The margins have been cropped and the manuscript has been rebound, some areas of restoration to the paper, stains and smudges, some holes, some areas of re-inking and restoration to the text, losses to the illuminations, traces of folds, page numbered in European numerals on the upper external corner, as viewed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
N. Safwat, A Collector’s Eye. Islamic calligraphy in Qur’ans and other manuscripts, London 2010, no.49, pp.200-5.
This impressive and complete copy of the Qur’an is a great rarity as it was written by a member of the royal family and was intended for either an emir or the Sultan himself. Copied during the beginning of the reign of Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qaytbay (r.1468-96 AD), it attests to the cultural vibrance of the end of the Mamluk empire. It was under Qaytbay’s patronage that numerous Qur’ans were copied and endowed to foundations. A recent example is the monumental Qur’an dated 894 AH/1489 AD sold at Christie’s London, 2 May 2019, lot 11.
The present Qur’an is indeed part of this trend but also an exception as it was not just copied in the scriptorium but by a member of the royal family. The nisba al-Sayfi indicates that the scribe belonged to the household of Sayf al-Din (Burji). The manuscript was inspected by H.J. Goodacre, acting Head of the Arabic section in the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed books at the British Library, in May 1984 who noted that "the royal medallion on the last folio indicates that the scribe was at the time himself a Mamluk ruler."