Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s

Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s ‘Arts of the Islamic World & India’ sale was held March 31. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 April 2021

Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s

Calligraphic classics go under the hammer at Sotheby’s
  • Highlights from Sotheby’s ‘Arts of the Islamic World & India’ sale, held March 31

Illuminated Qur’an copied by Ahmad Al-Rumi, dated 1447 CE

This manuscript, Sotheby’s said, “represents an outstanding calligraphic feat by one of the foremost practitioners in the history of the Islamic Arts of the Book, Ahmad Al-Rumi. He is known as a master of the six pens and was held in great esteem at the Timurid Court. … A small number of works by the scribe are known, including only one other Qur’an, rendering the manuscript to hand both extremely important and rare.” In this manuscript, Al-Rumi displayed his mastery of the art, using four different scripts — “a strong and angular Muhaqqaq interspersed with a fine and balanced Naskh for the main text, an elegant Thuluth for the surah headings, with the addition of Tawqi on the final page” — with extraordinary skill. “The colophon page is extraordinary, as not only do we see the text in four scripts, but also the use of the musalsal method, in which a pen isn’t lifted from the page, resulting in a seamless ‘chain’ of calligraphy,” Sotheby’s added in the catalogue notes. Sold for £378,000.

Illuminated Qur’an made for the chief justice of Jerusalem and Nablus, dated 1514 CE 

This remarkable complete copy of the Qur’an was scribed by master calligrapher Abu Al-Fadi Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Shafi Al-Sunbati Al-Araj — a royal scribe to a Mamluk sultan and a student of Yasin Al-Jalali — and is dated 1514 CE. The piece was commissioned by a former chief justice of Jerusalem and Nablus, Jalal Al-Din Abu Al-Waffa Mohammad Ibn Junis Al-Hanafi, and was later owned by Hajj Uthman Kanoo Isma’il, who was mayor of Yanbu Al-Bahr, in Hijaz. The verses are written in the Naskh script, with surah headings in larger gold Thuluth script outlined in black. “The generous use of gold and silver in the illumination and text illustrates the wealth and prestige of the patron of this Qur’an,” the catalogue notes said. It also sold for £378,000 at the auction.

A compendium of works relating to the Hajj, from the 18th century

This manuscript contains two works — the first is an essay on Makkah, the Hajj, and the measurements of the Great Mosque; the second is a copy of the “Futuh Al-Haramayn,” a famous guidebook to the cities of Makkah and Madinah, originally written in the early 16th century, which included instructions for pilgrims on the rituals of the Hajj and the religious sites they could visit. This book, written in Nasta’liq script with important words written in red ink, also contains 19 illustrations of Makkah and Madinah. Sold for £50,400 at auction.

10th-century Qur’an leaf in gold Kufic script (12-18k sterling)

A real rarity — this folio containing five lines to the page of gold-colored script is part of one of just a handful of Qur’ans in which gold Kufic script was used. It would, the auction house explained, “have been a lengthy and expensive process, indicating a commission at the highest level of patronage.” It is believed to have originated from the Near East, and sold for £37,800 at auction.

Bifolium from the ‘Five Surahs,’ circa 1370

Pages taken from a manuscript of selected Qur’anic chapters (1, 5, 18, 34, and 35) that all begin with the phrase ‘Al-hamdulillah.’ The pages have been traced back to a manuscript that gives the name of the scribe as Abdul Qayyum Ibn Muhammad Ibn Karamshah-I Tabrizi. Sotheby’s cited calligraphy expert David James as describing Tabrizi’s work here in the Muhaqqaq script as, “Faultless perfection … equaled only by Suhrawardi in the Qur’an produced in Baghdad in the early years of the 14th century.” Sold for £37,800.

Illuminated Mamluk Qur’an from Egypt or Syria in the 14th century

“This lavishly illuminated section comes from what must have been an impressive Qur’an in several volumes,” said Sotheby’s of this manuscript — in which the verses are written in Muhaqqaq script and separated by gold florets, while the titles are written in white Kufiq script on blue backgrounds with gold embellishments. The 42 leaves of the manuscript are bound in leather. “Its decoration and illumination recall both Ilkhanid court production (and) early Mamluk manuscripts, rendering it testament to these cross influences at the beginning of the 14th century,” the catalogue notes continue. Sold for £50,400.

Mid-14th-century Qur’an leaf attributed to Arghun Al-Kamili

Pages from a Qur’an that is believed to have been scribed by Al-Kamili, one of the most prolific calligraphers working in Baghdad in the middle of the 14th century CE — a time when the Iraqi capital was the center of the calligraphic arts. Al-Kamili was one of the six famous pupils of Yaqut Al-Mustasimi — the secretary of the last Abbasid caliph, and was, Sotheby’s said, “renowned to a point that illuminators of his manuscripts signed their work in a wish to stress their association with him.” This leaf is written in Rayhani script and its verses are separated by blue and gold rosettes. It was expected to fetch around $20-25,000 at auction.

Illuminated Qur’an copied by Abdullah Al-Qadir Al-Husayni in the 16th century

“This magnificent and well-preserved Qur’an has all the hallmarks of the most refined manuscripts of the Safavid period,” the catalogue notes said. Copies of the Qur’an were traded between the Ottoman and Safavid empires despite the animosity between them, and Qur’ans such as this were often offered as gifts to the Ottoman court by Safavid envoys. This particular manuscript is written in Naskh script and contains some fine examples of full-page illumination.


‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine

‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine
Updated 12 April 2021

‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine

‘Wuf,’ a fantastical love story narrated by a canine

CHICAGO: A fantastical novel that took the Turkish literary world by storm, Kemal Varol’s “Wuf” is a love story narrated by a canine. Translated into English by Dayla Rogers, the novel takes place in the 1990s amid a war between the southerners and northerners. Mikasa, the main character and a young street pup, learns about life and how to survive between the big city and the mountain town where he attempts to find shelter, food, friends and love. His journey will transform him into a legend and an enigma.

With a politically charged backdrop of the conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the state, Varol layers his surrealist novel with humor, tragedy, friendship and the horrors of war that befall places, people, animals and the natural landscape. He keeps a politically realistic and emotional novel accessible to everyone, according to Rogers in the translator’s statement, as she points out that Varol “manages to capture multiple perspectives in the conflict thanks to myriad characters who straddle social divides.” Varol creates his main character as a bridge to opposing worlds, and in doing so allows for the story to reach eyes, ears and hearts on all sides of the conflict.

Readers first meet Mikasa at a shelter along a mountain road. He arrives half alive, wounded and bloody, and sleeps for seven days as his fellow kennel-mates speculate about who he is. They are in the middle of a war, as is evident by the army trucks and soldiers that pass on the road day and night. There are rumors among the dogs about what is going on in a world that they are kept from, but Mikasa fills in the gaps as he recalls his life, the war, the destruction and hardship, and Melsa, his love.

Varol’s novel references real political events that inundated the country in the 1990s. In Mikasa, a dog who has been forced to survive his entire life without his family and as a minesweeper during the conflict, Varol captures the devastation of war and the comradery between creatures when fighting for life. Through the eyes of his canines, Varol writes about life that surrounds war, those who want to fight, those who do not want to fight, and those who are caught in the middle.


Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives

 Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives
Updated 12 April 2021

Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives

 Palestinian DJ duo Simi, Haze Khadra show support for Lebanese creatives

DUBAI: US-Palestinian twins and DJ duo Simi and Haze Khadra showed support for Lebanese creatives this week by wearing merchandise from Ya Habibi Market, an online streetwear store designed to support artists from the Middle East.

Simi championed the brand’s Laurel Soap Official Stamp sweater and wrote on her Instagram Stories: “All proceeds go to Impact Lebanon.” 

(Instagram/@simihaze)

The duo, whose real names are Sama and Haya, were born in Palestine, but grew up between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They are the younger sisters of Fai Khadra, who first made waves when he accompanied model and reality television star Kendall Jenner to Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s wedding in September 2018. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

Ya Habibi Market started after the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut’s port area, with the aim of uniting artists in the region and helping those affected by the blast.


Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set

Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set
Updated 12 April 2021

Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set

Singer Katy Perry steps out in Alaia creation on ‘American Idol’ set

DUBAI: US singer and songwriter Katy Perry this week championed a dress by renowned luxury label Maison Alaia, which was founded by late French-Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaia. 

The superstar wore the brand’s Panther Print Velvet Jacquard Gown on Monday’s episode of “American Idol,” which she judges alongside Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Ryan Seacrest. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KATY PERRY (@katyperry)

Not only did the 36-year-old singer step out in an Arab label, but she also rocked a new darker hair color.

Fans quickly took to social media to comment on Perry’s new look.

 “Is it just me or is @katyperry hotter than normal tonight?” one Twitter user asked. 


Ramadan gift guide: From tea to beauty buys, these sets will brighten your day

Huda Beauty Ramadan advent calendar. Supplied
Huda Beauty Ramadan advent calendar. Supplied
Updated 12 April 2021

Ramadan gift guide: From tea to beauty buys, these sets will brighten your day

Huda Beauty Ramadan advent calendar. Supplied

DUBAI: From a fragrant bouquet of flowers to a selection of the world’s finest tea, read on for seven gift sets to give (and get) this Ramadan. 

 

Huda Beauty Ramadan Gifting Calendar


Treat your loved ones (or yourself) to a curated advent calendar filled with Huda Beauty’s top 10 products. The calendar has been designed to be opened every evening after breaking one’s fast during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Lakrids by Bulow Love Selection Box


This gift box features the Danish confectionery’s popular chocolate-coated liquorice and is perfect to end your iftar and suhoor on a sweet note.

Tania’s Teahouse Ramadan advent calendar


Celebrate each day of the Holy Month with a cup of some of the world’s finest tea. From black tea to fruity infusions tucked inside the drawers, this is every tea lover’s dream. 

Kiehl’s Ramadan Set

The curated collection of the brand’s best-selling products delivers intense hydration and skincare benefits that cover all your needs.

Bateel Luna gift set


Filled with Bateel organic gourmet dates, this crescent-adorned box set makes for a healthy and thoughtful gift this Ramadan. 

 

Maison des Fleurs gift set


This tray with a small box of Medjool dates and a faux flowers arrangement is not your typical bouquet.

Sugargram Ramadan candygram box

To celebrate Ramadan, Sugargram has  launched a a gift box filled with locally-produced candy cubes you could gift or just enjoy for yourself. With an assorted mix of 10 artisanal flavors, each box is guaranteed to satisfy.


Lebanese influencer, designer Karen Wazen launches mobile game app

The free-to-download game launched today on iOS and Andriod app stores. Supplied
The free-to-download game launched today on iOS and Andriod app stores. Supplied
Updated 11 April 2021

Lebanese influencer, designer Karen Wazen launches mobile game app

The free-to-download game launched today on iOS and Andriod app stores. Supplied

DUBAI: Lebanese-British fashion blogger and eyewear designer Karen Wazen has just launched her very first mobile game app. Available on iOS and Android, the new mobile app is titled “Karen Wazen: My World,” and arrived on all app stores today.

The interactive game is based on the Dubai-based fashionista’s real life and is similar to “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” a highly addictive app that mythologizes Kardashian West’s ladder climb to the A-list. 

The free mobile app is a role-playing game with multiple levels that allows users to re-live Wazen’s journey and most memorable milestones, such as graduating in London, getting married and becoming a mother and an entrepreneur in Dubai. 

The interactive game is based on the Dubai-based fashionista’s real life. Supplied

Wazen reveals that the new game came about during lockdown last year, when playing games with her family was a major source of stress-relief during the uncertain time.

“Like so many people during lockdown, we had to think of creative ways of having fun and stay positive during those uncertain times. What sparked the idea for developing the app was discovering how stress relieving playing games with the family was — both online and offline,” Wazen said in a released statement.

“And with this, we’re so excited to be introducing ‘Karen Wazen: My World,’ a free app where we can connect with our followers beyond Instagram and around the world, where users can get to know my story and be a part of my world through a fun, lighthearted game,” she added.

The story-driven game features characters such as the influencer’s husband, Elias Bakhazi. Supplied

The story-driven game also features characters such as the influencer’s mother and her husband, Elias Bakhazi.

In order to advance, users are tasked with decorating Wazen’s home, playing wedding planner and styling her looks.

The new mobile game app, which was developed with NiM Games, is available in both Arabic and English.

It marks the mother-of-three’s first foray into the technology industry.

She follows in the footsteps of regional It-girls, who go by The Real Fouz, Model Roz and Noha Style Icon on Instagram, who featured in the free mobile app “StyleCity,” an iOS and Android role-playing game made by Dubai-based tech company Dubzplay, that launched in Jan 2020.