Sa'di, Bustan, a lavishly illuminated and illustrated manuscript, copied by Sultan Muhammad Khandan Bukhara, probably Herat, dated AH 9[56]/AD 1549
Lot 27
Sa'di, Bustan, a lavishly illuminated and illustrated manuscript, copied by Sultan Muhammad Khandan
Bukhara, probably Herat, dated AH 9[56]/AD 1549
Sold for £ 45,600 (US$ 64,068) inc. premium

Lot Details
Sa'di, Bustan, a lavishly illuminated and illustrated manuscript, copied by Sultan Muhammad Khandan
Bukhara, probably Herat, dated AH 9[56]/AD 1549
Persian manuscript on gold-sprinkled cream-coloured paper, 162 leaves including a total of 6 pages at beginning and end exquisitely decorated with exotic birds amidst stylised floral and vegetal motifs in gold, 14 lines to the page written in two columns of elegant nasta'liq script in black ink, double intercolumnar rules in gold, inner margins ruled in blue and gold, catchwords in wide outer margins which are richly stencilled with intertwining floral and vegetal motifs in pink and blue outlined in gold, interspersed with cut-out medallions decorated with floral motifs and serrated leaves in gold on green, dark blue and turquoise grounds, headings written in thuluth and naskhi scripts in alternating red, blue and gold within illuminated panels in colours and gold, a fine illuminated frontispiece incorporating the opening verses preceded by two illuminated shamsas incorporating the title and the author's name written in nasta'liq in white on a gold ground decorated with wiry intertwining vegetal motifs in black, each shamsa within a rectangular panel exquisitely decorated with intertwining floral and vegetal motifs in gold and blue respectively, one double-page miniature and four full-page miniatures painted in the Bukhara style, some flaking resulting in loss of small areas of painted surface, some faces crudely retouched with black ink at a later date, oxidisation, waterstaining mostly restricted to outer margins throughout, some crude repairs, folio 1a defective, numerous royal Safavid and Mughal library inscription and seal impressions on folio 2a, others have been crudely erased, only lower cover of original binding survives, detached, reddish-brown morocco with stamped leather onlay decorated with cranes and ducks in a stream and beside a tree, in the central medallion, and amidst intertwining floral motifs and Chinese cloud-bands in the central panel, defective, doublures decorated with gilt paper filigree on a lapis-lazuli ground, defective
278 x 189 mm.; miniatures approx. 220 x 127 mm.


  • A Sixteenth Century illustrated copy of Sa'di's Bustan signed by Sultan Muhammad Khandan and once in the collection of the Persian and Mughal Royal Libraries

    The miniatures are as follows:
    f2b-3a: A ruler enthroned under an elaborate canopy in a landscape, surrounded by courtiers and musicians, two horses led by their grooms before Iwan.
    f47a: The story of the old Zoroastrian who was given hospitality in Ibrahim's (Abraham's) house until his beliefs were discovered.
    f72a: The story of the doctor of Marv and his patient.
    f93a: The story of Salih of Damascus proving the imprudence of dervishes and the clemency of kings.
    f161a: A seated figure being offered a book in an enclosed garden.

    1. A library inventory inscription written in Persian in nasta'liq script on folio 2a states that this manuscript was written by Sultan Muhammad Khandan.
    2. A Royal Library inventory inscription written in Persian in nasta'liq script on folio 2a states that this manuscript belonged to Shah Abbas I who ruled over Safavid Persia from AH 995-1038/AD 1587-1629.
    3. Seal impression of a Mughal royal library, probably of Shah Jahan's (reigned AH 1037-1068/AD 1628-57).
    4. A librarian's note belonging to Shah 'Alam II reign (AH 1173-1221/AD 1760-1806) states that this manuscript was inspected in the Emperor's 17th regnal year (AH 1190/AD 1770).

    The scribe:
    The manuscript is signed in verse on folio 160b by the scribe Sultan Muhammad Khandan. He is a well-known nasta'liq calligrapher who spent his entire life in Herat, and in his youth worked for Mir 'Ali Shir Nawa'i (died AH 907/1501-02). His recorded work is dated between AH 915-957/AD 1509-1550, making this manuscript one of the last to be written by him. (See M. Bayani, Ahval va athar-e khoshneisan-e nasta'liq, vol I, Teheran, 1345, pp. 268-71.)

    Historical Background:
    It is very rare for a manuscript to appear on the open market with a provenance which traces it back to the royal libraries of Safavid Persia and Mughal India. It is well known that 16th-Century Persian illustrated manuscripts produced in Bukhara began to find their way to the Mughal court during the reign of Emperor Humayun (reigned 1530-40 and 1555-56) when he was forced to seek refuge in Persia. He brought back with him art treasures including manuscripts and miniatures. Many artists sought employment in the Mughal court after Shah Tahmasp lost interest in the commissioning of the art of the book. These imported manuscripts and artists had a tremendous impact on the evolution of Mughal miniature painting and manuscript production. This tradition was to continue during the reigns of Shah Jahan and his successors, some of whose library inscriptions and seal impressions can be found in this manuscript.
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