Rare And Important Mamluk Ivory-inlaid Wooden Panel

Made up of individually cut sections fitted into a framework, the design based on a central sixpointed star with radiating polygons, hexagons and half-stars carved of light and dark woods including ebony inlaid with thin ivory strips and carved ivory plaques, with late 19th -early 20th century European fruitwood frame. The Mamluks of Egypt and Syria were a powerful dynasty of Turkic slave soldiers who rose to power in the thirteenth century. It was the Mamluks who drove back the Mongol invaders and banished the Crusaders from the Holy Land. Their reputation in battle was matched by their energy as builders and patrons of the arts. Under Mamluk patronage, Cairo was transformed by elaborate domes and minarets, creating one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Mamluk woodworkers – wood is a precious material in Egypt- excelled in the art of inlaying ivory into furniture destined for buildings commissioned by sultans and amirs. Geometrical designs were favoured for their bold symmetry and formal strength. This panel most likely came from a door or a minbar. It is assembled like a mosaic using individually carved segments, a technique that requires great patience and skill as well as knowledge of geometry and mathematics. The central star and each of the polygonal elements has been cut and carved separately and then inlaid with ivory filaments which act to highlight and define the design. The present panel can be compared with the Qur’an box in the Sultan Hasan Mosque in Cairo, completed in 1359 AD. Both have ivory polygons set against wood geometry. Both incorparate small lozenges containing palmettes, similarly executed border treatment and carved arabesque units.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Rare And Important Mamluk Ivory-inlaid Wooden Panel magnifing glass

Rare Ottoman Lacquered Pencase

Of cylindrical form painted with flower bouquets amongst dark green ground, with oblique cartuches of poetry in nas-ta‘liq script. The poem in ottoman Turkish in nas-ta‘liq script on the pencase reads:

"Aceb nakş oldu bu resmin edâsı
Güzel düşmüş tûtî yeşil boyası
Nukûşu ol kadar ... ü rânâ
Altun ile gümüş tahrir arası
Müzeyyen oldu nukûşu güller ile
Şükûfe üzre sabra karar alası
... devât-ı hûb ü rânâ Bakınca ziyâde olur safâsı"

Translation of the poem:

"How wonderfully the design has been painted!
How beautifully the parrot-green colour has turned out!
The motifs are so [graceful] and exquisite:
Within the outlines of gold and silver,
The composition has been ornamented with flowers.
Upon the blossoms ... [...] an inkwell so fine and elegant.
When anyone looks at it, how great will be their pleasure!"

The artist who signed his name Ahmed, appears to be Hezargiradizade Ahmed Ataullah Efendi, a celebrated Ottoman lacquer master active in the first half of the 19th century.

Provenance: Ex-private U.S. Collection

Rare Ottoman Lacquered Pencase magnifing glass


Ottoman Mother Of Pearl Inlaid Wooden Scribe's Box

Of rectangular form, the lid with the inlaid tughra of Sultan Abdulaziz, the top surface and sides decorated with mother of pearl, inlaid interlacing vegetal motifs. The application of the imperial monogram, the tughra, on the cover indicates that the box was produced for a patron from or closely related to the Ottoman palatian circles. A comparable walnut book stand produced in a similar design, bearing the tughra of Sultan Abdulaziz, is in the Topkapi Palace Museum (inv. no. 8/496), Istanbul. See: Cevdet Çulpan’s Rahleler, Istanbul, 1968, p. 34.

Provenance: Private French collection

Ottoman Mother Of Pearl Inlaid Wooden Scribe's Box magnifing glass


Ottoman Ivory Inlaid Wooden Scribe's Box

Of rectangular form, the lid with the inlaid tughra of Sultan Abdulaziz, the top surface and sides decorated with fleshy ivory inlaid interlacing vegetal motifs, comprising intertwining scrolls. The application of the Ottoman imperial monogram (tughra) on the present piece indicates a palatial background. It must have been produced for a royal dignitary or a member of the palatial circle. A tughra is a calligraphic monogram, seal or signature of a sultan that was affixed to all official documents and correspondence. It was also carved on his seal and stamped on the coins minted during his reign.

Very elaborate decorated versions were created for important documents that were also works of art. The tughra was designed at the beginning of the sultan's reign and drawn by the court calligrapher or nişancı on written documents. The first tughra belonged to Orhan I (r. 1284–1359), the second ruler of the Ottoman state and it evolved until it reached the classical form in the tughra of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1494–1566). The interlacing vegetal motifs point to the openness of Turkish art to European decorative repertoire in the 19th century. A comparable scribe’s box bearing the imperial monogram is in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul (inv. no. 210). See; Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Akbank, İstanbul, 2002, p. 318.

Provenance: Private French collection

Ottoman Ivory Inlaid Wooden Scribe's Box magnifing glass


A Magnificent Ottoman Tortoiseshell And Mother-Of-Pearl Box

This unique box characterised by its octagonal form, luxurious use of materials, notably tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl and ivory as well as its design, derived from the classic crescent moon and star with a cintamani motif on the lid, an iconic Ottoman theme.

Although the box’s octagonal shape can be traced back to Roman and Byzantine times, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem most probably served as the model for the other boxes produced in this shape during the Ottoman period, with the primary function of containing religious artefacts, for example, the Qur’an cabinets in the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul (inv. nos. 2, 3, 5, 10), published in The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Akbank, Istanbul, 2002, pp. 255-9.

A connection can be made with the reliquary casket in the Hall of the Mantle of the Prophet in the Topkapi Palace Museum which was intended to preserve hairs from the beard of the Prophet (inv. no. 21/391, published H. Aydin, Hırka-i Saadet Dairesi ve Mukaddes Emanetler, Kaynak, Istanbul, 2004, p. 108 ). This shape is also seen on another reliquary in the Topkapi Treasury, designed to hold the relic of St. John the Baptist (inv.no. 2/2743, see T. Mimarlik, Topkapi Palace – The Imperial Treasury, Istanbul, 2001, p.62).

Its design (and subsequent dating) relates to shutters in the Bağdad Köşk in Topkapi palace, built in 1638-9, which feature the same cintamani motifs, rare in furniture (see Rogers 1988, pp.44-45, nos.106-7). In form and stylistic repertoire, it is comparable to a box in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (inv.no.M.2005.125), dated to circa 1640 and a mirror case in the Esterházy Schatzkammer, Schloss Forchtenstein, Austria. Further analogies can be drawn with a number of artworks in other media: textiles (such as velvet brocade in the David Collection, Copenhagen, inv.no.25/1962), and furniture (see the inlaid wood campaign throne, possibly for Suleyman the Magnificent, in the Topkapi Palace Museum, inv.no.2/2879, Atil 1987, p.168, no.107).

A Magnificent Ottoman Tortoiseshell And Mother-Of-Pearl Box magnifing glass