Rare Timurid-era Quran sells for over $8m at UK auction

A rare 15th century Quran from Iran written on Chinese paper has sold at an auction in London by Christie’s for $8.6 million (£7,016,250) almost 12 times more than its estimated value.

The manuscript written in the naskh Arabic script dates to the Timurid-era (1370-1507), which was a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turco-Mongol origin and named after its founder Timur (also known as Tamerlane) and which exemplifies the rich artistic exchange between Iran and China.

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The colourful Ming dynasty-era pages in the manuscript include blue, turquoise, pink, purple, orange, green, and cream. Described as an “exceptional” its calligraphy is accompanied with elegant blue and gold lines, and pages decorated with gold roundel verse markers, and surah headings in gold Thuluth calligraphy. The book is covered with a stamp and gilt in later Safavid binding.

The auction was part of Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets held on 25 June which included 35 Iranian artworks. An exhibition is currently taking place in Iran’s Malek Museum featuring 40 rare Quranic manuscripts presenting the evolution of Quranic calligraphy.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Timurid rulers were sympathetic to Persian culture and lured artists, architects and men of letters who would contribute to their high court culture. Timurid cultural tradition was also partly carried on by the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires.

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