View full screen - View 1 of Lot 22. A miniature illuminated Qur’an, India, Sultanate, 15th/16th century.

A miniature illuminated Qur’an, India, Sultanate, 15th/16th century

A miniature illuminated Qur’an, India, Sultanate, 15th/16th century

A miniature illuminated Qur’an, India, Sultanate, 15th/16th century

Arabic manuscript on paper, 415 leaves plus 2 fly-leaves, 19 lines to the page written in Bihari script in black ink, the word Allah written in gold, verses separated by a polychrome and gold rosette, polychrome and gold round or tear-shaped verse markers in the margins, surahs marked by polychrome and gold cartouches, 8 double pages decorated with polychrome and gold margins with text on a hatched red ground, brown stamped leather binding, probably European, decorated with vegetal scrolls, with flap

9.5 by 6cm.

In overall good condition, the margins have been trimmed, minor stains and smudges, minor losses to the illuminations, minor later notes on the margins and the last page, very few pages have 17 lines to the page rather than 19, but do not seem a later replacement, minor restorations to the paper, misbound, the binding associated, 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. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

Pre-Mughal Islamic manuscripts from India are rare, few having survived mainly due to political instability and unfavourable climatic conditions; most of the Qur’an survived from the period are of larger dimensions. The present miniature Qur’an, rare for its portable dimensions, contains much illumination, pointing towards a personal, noble, ownership.

Stylistically, it can be compared to a group of Qur’ans produced in Sultanate India between the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The earliest known Qur'an of this type is from Gwalior, near Delhi, and it is dated 1398 (now in in the collection of the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, published in Canby 1998, pp.106-7, item 76). A further similar Qur'an, dated 1483 AD, is in the Bijapur Archaeological Museum (inv. no.MS.912; published in Brand & Lowry 1985, cat. no.71). A fifteenth century Sultanate period Qur'an in Bihari script was sold in these rooms, 25 April 1991, lot 237; further related examples dated to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were also sold in these rooms, 31 March 2021, lot 20; 27 October 2020, lot 411; 9 October 2013, lot 212, and 6 October 2010, lot 16 and 13 October 1989, lot 90. None of these examples are miniature in size (the smallest, lot 90, measured 15 by 11.5cm.), making this lot exceptional.

The eight illuminated double pages divide the Qur’an in seven sections, each known as a manzil; the Qur’an is misbound but seems to be complete and the divisions are now in the following order:

Beginning with surah al-Fatihah (I)

Beginning with surah al-Ma’ida (V)

Beginning with surah al-Isra’(XVII)

Surah al-Tawbah (IX) beginning of v.125

Beginning with surah al-Shuara (XXVI)

Beginning with surah al-Saafat (XXXVII)

Beginning with surah al-Qaf (L)