Mughal pashmina and silk Flower Style carpet c.1650
This ‘Lattice and Flower’ design carpet was made in one of the Mughal carpet workshops for the court of Shah Jahan, c.1650. The core material, woven at an average of 672 knots per square inch, is the highly prized pashmina undercoat of the Himalayan mountain goat.
An important example of the new Flower Style which took hold in architectural decoration and the decorative arts in this period, a variety of blooms are represented in profile and organised in rows.
Although at 9ft x 8ft 11in (2.75 x 2.74m) it has been cut down from its original size (three smaller fragments have survived), it is one of only four near-complete carpets of this type remaining in private hands.
The carpet has an estimate of £2.5m-3.5m at Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction on October 27.
An Encampment of Ascetics, gouache heightened with gold on paper Burhanpur, c.1680
The subject of a gathering of ascetics in the wilderness was a popular one in Indian painting from the 16th century. In this impressive work some 40 figures, mostly Sufis (followers of the mystical strain of Islam), are shown in varying degrees of inebriation from the potent effects of bhaang, a preparation of the cannabis plant. The gathering includes a solemn European, dressed in a brown cloak, as well as a nobleman. Probably painted c.1680 in Burhanpur, it comes for sale as part of the collection of Betsy Salinger.
Late 16th century illustration to a mid-13th century erotic poem, Bukhara, Iran
Worked in ink and pigments heightened with gold, this is the earliest known illustration to a little-known erotic Persian poem which was composed in the 1260s in Shiraz, Iran. While scholarship on eroticism in Islam and representations of sexuality in Islamic art is a relatively new field, it appears this miniature painted in late 16th century Bukhara may be unique and a particularly fine representation of a little discussed aspect of Persian and Islamic society.
SHAPERO RARE BOOKS
Tarikh’i Iskandar copied by Ibn Muhammad Khan Safdar ‘Ali
This illuminated manuscript with unusual marbled paper borders is titled Tarikh’i Iskandar (The History of Alexander) and inscribed Copied by Ibn Muhammad Khan Safdar ‘Ali in Kabul on Monday 8th Rabi II 1291AH (May 25, 1874AD).
The text is a translation of a history of Alexander the Great’s conquests written by James Campbell, an East India Company employee who became chief surgeon to the Qajar prince Abbas Mirza. Little is known about this particular calligrapher, although the only other known textual manuscript to include marbled borders in this way is a copy of Voltaire by the same scribe.
Tarikh’i Iskandar was previously owned by Begum Iskandar Mirza (1899-1969), wife of Iskandar Ali Mirza, president of Pakistan from 1956-58.
Rajput leather, pigment, copper alloy and gold maharani dhal, 18th century
At 2ft (61cm) across, this Rajput dhal (shield) is unusually large and its impressive size is matched well by its striking depiction decoration.
Picked out in black-and-gold paint is a complex procession of royal and courtly women that surrounds the central representation of the sun god Surya and four domed, gilt-copper bosses chased with floral patterns and fantastic animal hunting scenes.
Direct comparisons are hard to find for this piece that was acquired from an American private collection.
Mughal Indian jade, gold and ruby khanjar, the hilt late 17th or early 18th century, the blade 19th century
The code for fashionable dress of the nobility in northern India under the Mughals and their successor states included the wearing of highly decorated daggers which reflected the wearer’s social standing and prestige. Animal-headed daggers became popular early in the 17th century and were reserved for nobles of the highest rank.
The most popular medium for the hilts of these daggers was jade – here fashioned as a horse’s head and set with gold wire and rubies. A khanjar with a near identical hilt is in the Royal Collection, presented to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) during his tour to India in 1875-6 by Mahbub ‘Ali Khan, Nizam of Hyderabad.