SRINAGAR: Global auctioning site, Soothbay sold a copy of an illuminated Quran for 18380 UK Pounds (Rs 19.04 lakh). The handwritten Quran was produced in Kashmir somewhere in 1821.
This copy of Illuminated Quran written by Murtaza ibn Jawad for Aqa Muhammad Baqir in 1821-22 was sold for Rs 19 lakh.
The 311-page manuscript has the Quran written on gold-speckled paper leaves in naskh in black ink. There are 15 lines on every page, the pages are ruled in blue and gold, verses separated by gold roundels, surah headings in blue within illuminated panels, gold and polychrome marginal devices, marginal commentary in black nasta’liq within clouds against a gold ground.
“After Akbar’s annexation of Kashmir in 1586, many of the most talented Kashmiri scribes emigrated to the Mughal court,” the auctioneer said in its details. “However, by the eighteenth century, after the conquest of Kashmir by the Durrani Afghans, Kashmir re-emerged as the centre of book production. In 1831, French traveller Victor Jacquemont records that there were between seven and eight hundred copyists in the region.”
The site said that despite the large number of scribes, signed and dated manuscripts from Kashmir are rare. “The gold and blue palette is typical of Kashmiri production, but the striking cobalt-blue ground of the frontispiece is a more unusual feature,” the site said.
“A beautiful illuminated Quran produced in Kashmir in 1237 AH/1821 CE, written by Murtaza ibn Jawad for Aqa Muhammad Baqir,” Kashmir’s architect and author, Hakim Sameer Hamdani wrote on Twitter in the caption of the manuscript that was sold. “Was Aqa Baqir a part of the Iranian shawl merchant fraternity residing in Srinagar that commissioned many similar codices in Kashmir, maybe?”
Kashmir has been a famed spot for creating Kashmir paper and the finest copyists. In fact most of the manuscripts written for nearly 300 years till the late nineteenth-century area were written on Kashmir paper which was in demand globally. The copyists would write the Quran for their mentors, court officials and businessmen.
Some of these manuscripts were sold at Soothbay and Christie in recent years. Since 2018, Soothbay alone sold around 11 illuminated manuscripts of the Quran produced in Kashmir in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One such manuscript was sold in March 2023.