Wednesday 14 June 2023

Lot 124

A double-sided album page from the Imperial Mughal Library during the reign of the Emperor...

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Lot 124

A double-sided album page from the Imperial Mughal Library during the reign of the Emperor...

Price Realised: £3,640

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (30% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 124


A double-sided album page from the Imperial Mughal Library during the reign of the Emperor Aurangzeb, Herat, 16th century, with Deccani and Mughal additions of the second half of the 17th century, opaque pigments heightened with gold on paper, recto with scene of a prince enthroned, with a inscription identifying the ruler as Genghis Khan, being entertained by musicians, perhaps excised from a manuscript of Jami's Nafahat al-Uns, laid down on an album page with an inner border of fine gilt floral interlace and small birds delicately painted in polychrome, and outer silver-sprinkled light blue border, the page with nasta'liq inscription within gold cloudbands in upper border, Devanagari inscription in gold to lower border, seal impression of Mughal Imperial Librarian at lower right corner; verso, a calligraphic panel signed Qasim 'Ali, with four ll. of diagonal black nasta'liq text outlined in gold, on a green ground, within a border of small panels with 2ll. of black nasta'liq within cloudbands on gold and polychrome, numbered ?? in Arabic at lower left corner, painting verso 21 x 30.5cm. and calligraphy recto 22.7 x 16cm.; album page 41.6 x 29.5cm. (VAT charged on hammer price)

Provenance: The Imperial Mughal Library, apparently during the reign of the Emperor Aurangzeb (reg. 1658-1707); Private UK collection, early 1970s-80s.

The seal impression in the lower right corner (recto) is that of a Mughal official, and reads: sohrab khan khaneh zad-e 'alamgir padshah, 'Sohrab Khan, born in the household of 'Alamgir Padshah'. The date is not clear, possibly (10)69AH/ 1658-59AD, but it is clearly from the reign of Aurangzeb/'Alamgir I (1658-1707), and the terminology indicates the early years of his reign.

Two folios from the same album have appeared at auction, both bearing the seal impression of Sohrab Khan. Bonhams sold most recently a folio from a Private American collection, 25th October 2021 Lot 4 and another appeared at Sotheby's, The Khosrovani-Diba Collection, 19th October 2016, lot 15. This album page featured a calligraphy by Javaher Raqam to the recto. 

The name Sohrab Khan is found on other album pages including one in the Philadelphia Museum, and on a portrait of the Mughal nobleman Farrukh Fal, dated 1650-75, with Francesca Galloway (Indian Miniatures, London 2005, pp. 16-17, no. 6). This also has the same kind of Devanagari inscription indicating a Rajput collection, perhaps Amber. 

The calligrapher's name Javaher Raqam was the title given by Alamgir to Sayyid Ali Tabrizi who had lived in Isfahan and moved to India with his father during Shah Jahan's reign. He is said to have taught Prince Aurangzeb. He held posts in the Royal court, including the Royal Librarian and his seal impression is found in numerous manuscripts. All his recorded works are calligraphic pages dating between 1062AH (1651-2) and 1086AH (1675-1676AD). 

The absence of text makes it impossible to say if the paintings recto were excised from a manuscript of Jami's Nafahat al-Uns, or another text on Sufis, or were simply depictions of the life of Shaykh Majd al-Din, made in an album for a specific patron.

Jami's Nafahat al-Uns told the lives of six hundred and eleven Sufi saints. Shaykh Majd al-Din Baghdadi was a pupil of Najm al-Din Kubra. Khwarazm Shah asked the Caliph of Baghdad to send him a physician and Majd al-Din was sent. The Khwarazm Shah threw him in dajlah (referring, it seems, to a river as large as the Tigris - a scene perhaps depicted at lower left). Examples of the complete text have appeared at auction a few times: the only illustrated instance was a single leaf, dated to Herat, circa 1500 (see Christie's South Kensington, Indian and Islamic Works of Art and Textiles, 11th April 2008, lot 102. For complete examples of the text, see: Christie's, Islamic, Indian and Armenian Art and Manuscripts, 12th October 1999, lot 80 (dated AH 910/AD 1504); Bonhams, Islamic and Indian Art, 5th December 2002, lot 496 (Afghanistan or North India, 17th Century); Christie's, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, 31st March 2009, lot 138A (a Turkish translation, dated 1520).

The verses are unrecorded, the signature reads Qasim Ali, who could be identified with the calligrapher from Shiraz active at the beginning of the 16t century scribe of a manuscript now in the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, S1986.194.1-2.




Provenance: Property from an Important Private Collection

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

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