Rare Arab treasures up for auction at Christie’s in London

Rare Arab treasures up for auction at Christie’s in London
A Fatimid-era gold armlet. (christies.com)
Updated 24 April 2018

Rare Arab treasures up for auction at Christie’s in London

Rare Arab treasures up for auction at Christie’s in London
  • The text was likely produced in Egypt, home to the Coptic community, during the eight century
  • According to the auction house, only a handful of Qur’anic palimpsests have ever been recorded

DUBAI: Christie’s in London is set to auction off an exceedingly rare palimpsest of a Qur’an during its Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets event on April 26.

The palimpsest — a manuscript on which later writing has been superimposed — is an excerpt from the Qur’an written over an earlier Coptic text. 

The earlier Coptic text contains passages from the Book of Deuteronomy, which is part of the Torah and the Christian Old Testament.

According to Christie’s, the text was likely produced in Egypt, home to the Coptic community, during the eight century.

The discovery was made with the help of French scholar Dr. Eléonore Cellard from the Collège de France in Paris, who lauded the find as a groundbreaking discovery.

“This is a very important discovery for the history of the Qur’an and early Islam. We have here a witness of cultural interactions between different religious communities,” she said in a statement released by Christie’s.

According to the auction house, only a handful of Qur’anic palimpsests have ever been recorded, with one example being  two leaves from a seventh century Hijazi Qur’an, copied over an earlier text of the Qur’an, which were sold at a Christie’s auction in 2008.

Other highlights set to go up for auction include five treatises on astronomy and mathematics by Persian thinker Nasir Al-Din Muhammad Bin Muhammad Bin Al-Hasan Al-Tusi, as well as an incredible Fatimid-era gold armlet, crafted in Egypt or Syria in the 11th century.

The armlet features a twisted band with lines of calligraphy and is beset with an emerald, green glass beadwork and miniature pearls.

Auction-goers will also have the opportunity to bid for a Marasali prayer rug from the North East Caucasus circa 1851, finely woven with ivory silk wefts.