Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Sale of a Rare, Gold-painted Qur’an at Christie’s Raises Questions of Provenance

By Sarah Rose Sharp
An illuminated Timurid copy of the Qur’an, believed to have been produced in Northern India, at the the Walters Art Museum. This Qur’an is separate from the copy that was sold at Christie’s on June 25. (via Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts/Flickr)
When rare book experts launch invective against each other, would you call that a book-burn? Annotations were flying this June, as scholars and bibliophiles engaged in civilized debate over the provenance of an extremely rare Qur’an slated for sale at Christie’s on June 25. The work, which was estimated to rake inbetween £600,000 and £900,000 (~$780,000-$1.2 million) subsequently sold for £7,016,250 (~$8.8 million). Aside from the beauty of the 15th-century Timurid Qur’an is the rarity of an edition copied on Ming Dynasty gold-painted colored paper — there are only four other similar Qur’ans written on Chinese paper. [More