Two consecutive leaves from the 'Five Surahs', copied by Abu Muhammad 'Abdul Qayyum ibn Muhammad ibn Karamshah-i Tabrizi, Persia or Mesopotamia, probably Baghdad, Jalayrid, circa 1370
What is guaranteed?
text: surah al-kahf (XVIII), end of v.50 to middle of v.56
Arabic manuscript on paper, 2 leaves, 5 lines to the page, written in bold muhaqqaq script in black ink outlined in gold, verses separated by illuminated roundels with geometric knotted motif, text within red, gold and blue rules
text panels: 36.4 by 26.2cm.
each leaf: 43.1 by 34.5cm.
In fair overall condition, the text panels remounted. Some light creasing and discolouration, consistent with age. The ink remains strong and bold. Mounted with tape at upper edge, 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."
These two leaves originate from a manuscript of selected chapters from the Qur'an known as the 'Five Surahs' which begin with the phrase al-hamdulillah (chapters I, V, XVIII, XXXIV and XXXV). The colophon of the manuscript, now housed in a private collection, gives the name of the scribe as Abu Muhammad 'Abdul Qayyum Ibn Muhammad Ibn Karamshah-i Tabrizi. Abolala Soudavar has suggested on stylistic grounds that the compilation of Qur'anic verses from which this leaf originated was made for the Jalayrid ruler Shaykh Uways (Soudavar 1992, no.19, pp.50-51).
The extremely fine illumination is reminiscent of earlier Ilkhanid imperial Qur'ans, such as Uljaytu's Mosul Qur'an and the superb muhaqqaq script looks forward to the monumental Qur'an attributed to Baysunghur but more likely commissioned by his grandfather Timur (r.1370-1405). Furthermore, David James observes that the calligrapher achieves "...Faultless perfection...equalled only by Suhrawardi in the Qur'an produced in Baghdad in the early years of the 14th century" (James 1992, p.16).
Other leaves from this manuscript are in the Nasser D. Khalili Collection; The Art and History Trust Collection, now on loan to the Freer|Sackler Gallery, Washington; and the David Collection, Copenhagen. Two leaves were exhibited in Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva (see Geneva 1988, nos.23a and 23b, pp.100-104), whilst a further leaf was exhibited in the exhibition Writing the Word of God - Calligraphy and the Qur'an at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 27 October - 3 February 2008 (published in Roxburgh et al 2007, p.46-47, fig.20).
Other leaves from the same manuscript were sold in these rooms, 31 March 2021 lot 7, 19 October 2016, lot 159; 7 October 2015, lot 213; 8 October 2008, lot 19; 1 April 2009, lot 6 and 9 April 2008, lot 24.