Page from Hafiz-i Abru's Majma' al-Tawarikh: The Death of the Samanid Emir Nuh bin Mansur
Text: Ilkhanid period, c. 1310-20; illustration: Herat, Afghanistan, Timurid period, c. 1425-26
Persian manuscript on cream and polished "Baghdadi" paper, the text in black naskh in red and blue rules, a large gouache painting heightened with gold depicting the Amir bedridden and surrounded by the following, the painting framed with 24 lines of text, the leaf mounted on a cardboard page, inventory number '10331', the border inscribed "published by Kunnel [sic]" (Ernst Kühnel).
Size page: 42.9 x 33.4 cm; view: 37 x 25.2 cm; painting: 11.2 x 25.5 cm
Mounted on a cardboard page. Soiling, oxidation and loss of pigments, folds and repaints.
The text and illustration refer to the death of the Samanid Sultan Nuh II bin Mansur on 13 Rajab 387 / 22 July 997. The illustration also exists in the manuscript kept in Topkapi, Hazine 1653 (folio 280a). The style is typical of the so-called 'shahrukhi' illustrations executed in the Shahrukh Kitabkhana in Herat. See two close examples in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, the Birth of Muhammad (F2005.5) and Jamshid on his throne (SS1986.131).
This leaf is thought to belong to the 65 leaves from the 'Divided Manuscript' of the Ilkhanid period that were reused in this manuscript of the Majma' al-Tawarikh. These folios, copied around 1310-20 but decorated in the Shahrukh kitabkhana nearly a hundred years after their production, have a larger text area (here 37 x 25.2 cm as opposed to 33.7 x 22.4 cm for the fully Timurid folios) and 35 lines of text per page (normally visible on the non-illustrated sides). (Private correspondence with Mohammad Reza Ghiasian, October 2021).
A folio from the Majma' al-Tawarikh of Hafiz-i Abru: Rustam blinds Isfandiyar with an arrow, Timurid Herat, Afghanistan, circa 1425-26 (illustration); Ilkhanid Iran, circa 1310-1320 (text)
Provenance: Former Emile Tabbagh collection.
This lot is part of a set of eight pages from the Majma' al-Tawarikh of Sultan Shahrukh presented in this sale. For more information, see the PDF catalogue.
Eight pages of the Majma' al-Tawarikh of Sultan Shahrukh from the collection of Emile Tabbagh
The eight pages presented here are from a major manuscript produced in Herat in the Timurid workshops of Sultan Shahrukh (r. 1405-47), successor to the founder of the dynasty, Timur (1336-1405). Entitled Majma' al-Tawarikh ("The Assembly of Stories"), this Universal History is a dynastic project that establishes the legitimacy of Shahrukh, the fourth son of Timur, to whom he was not the heir apparent.
The manuscript has a complex history, both in terms of its production in Shahrukh's scriptorium(kitabkhana) and its critical fortune in the twentieth century, when numerous illustrations were added to the manuscript shortly before its arrival in the United States around 1926, presumably in Iran, in an attempt to deceive art lovers. The manuscript was divided between 1928 and 1933 by the dealer and collector Émile Tabbagh, its owner with Parish Watson. It is now widely dispersed in international public and private collections. These eight pages were donated by the descendants of Émile Tabbagh (d. 1934). Other pages are in the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, etc. Through its additions, then its almost immediate division and dispersal between 1928 and 1935, the Majma' al-Tawarikh manuscript embodies the history of the Islamic art market in the early 20th century.
The Majma' al-Tawarikh is a Universal History from the Prophets of the Old Testament to the Reign of Shahrukh written by the historian Hafiz-i Abru (d. 1430). Two illustrated manuscripts survive today: one is autograph and is kept in the library of the Topkapi Sarayi Palace, Istanbul (Hazine 1653), the other, from which our folios are taken, is a copy dating from the same years, and is now dispersed. Both copies bear the seal of the Kitabkhana of Shahrukh... See PDF catalogue for more</p