SULTAN MEHMED II’S (R. 1451-1481) PERSONAL COLLECTION OF KAMAL KHUJANDI’S POEMS (DIWAN ) DEDICATED TO HIS IMPERIAL TREASURY, SUBSEQUENTLY PASSED TO THE LIBRARY OF HIS SON SULTAN BAYAZID II (R. 1481-1512)
Turkey, Dimensions: 20 x 12 cm.
Manuscript on cream paper, 243 ff. plus 3 fly-leaves, each folio with 17 lines of neat black nas-ta’liq
script arranged in two columns with double gold intercolumnar rule, headings in gold and contained
in clouds reserved against green or red-hatched ground. Some panels of text with borders of gold and polychrome scrolling vine, some folios with small panels with small clouds-bands framing text, first folio with elegant gold and polychrome illuminated headpiece, preceding folio with illuminated medallion with royal dedication to Sultan Mehmed II, first and final fly-leaves with later owner’s notes and stamps including one of his son Sultan Bayazid II’s imperial seals. In extremely fine Qajar lacquer binding commissioned by the Qajar prince Muhammad Qasim Khan, signed by the artist Lutf ‘Ali Shirazi and dated 1287 AH /1870 AD.
The Royal Dedication in the gold medallion on fol. 1a:
برسم خزانة السلطان الاعظام مالك رقاب الامم ابو المظفر سلطان محمد خان بن مراد خان ابدت
Bi rasm khizānat al-Sultān al-A‘zam Mālik Riqāb al-Umam Abu al-Muzaffar Sultān Mehemmed Khān bin Murād Khān Abbida Saltanatahu
(On the order of the treasury of the greatest Sultan, the ruler of the Necks of Nations, the Father of the Victorious, Sultan Mehmed Khan son of Murad Khan, may his reign be Eternal)
The illuminated medallion at the beginning of this manuscript contains the royal dedication above.
A known bibliophile, the legacy of the Sultan’s love for books resulted in ninety surviving manuscripts dedicated to him – a far greater number than are associated with any other Muslim imperial patron. Of these ninety, twenty are on philosophy and a further five on logic. Ottoman art-historians Raby and Tanindi mention that Mehmed II’s bibliophilia was not a constant phenomenon and that changes in the intensity of
his demand fits well with the periods when he rested from campaign and spent his time in cultural pursuits (Julian Raby and Zeren Tanindi, Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, London 1993, p. 62). For this reason, the mid-1460s was a period of intense artistic creativity.
The illumination of the medallion and the headpiece is typical of mid-15th century Ottoman palace workshops (naqqashkanah), and appears to draw influence from Timurid/Herati manuscripts of the same period. The illumination, with the use of black and bold colours as well as the open format in the arrangement and execution of the design, and indeed is very similar to the heading of an extraordinary Timurid Qur’an in the Khalili Collection (David James, After Timur, Oxford 1992, no.5, pp. 28-33).
The Qajar lacquer binding is of extraordinary quality and bears the signature of the artist Lutf ‘Ali Shirazi and the date 1287 AH / 1870 AD. An additional note on the back cover of the binding, just above the signature, states that the binding of the manuscript was renewed on the order of the above- mentioned Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan. The juxtaposition of the inscription against the floral background is truly masterful. For mention of the artist Lutf ‘Ali Shirazi please see Muhammad Ali Karimzadah Tabrizi, The Lives and Art of Old Painters of Iran, London, 1990, pp. 561-568, also see Muhammad Ali Karimzadah Tabrizi, Qalamdan, London, 2000, p. 323.
The imperial provenance of this manuscript does not end with Sultan Mehmed II. The last page of the manuscript bears the imperial seal of his son Bayazid II (r. 1481-1512). The imperial library was inventoried under Sultan Bayazid II, and a number of the manuscripts that bear his seal also have an inscription in the Bayazid’s own hand, giving titles and subjects of the works.
The Imperial Seal of Sultan Bayazid II on the last page:
بايزيد بن محمد المظفر دائما
“Bāyazid bin Mehmed al-Muzaffar Dāiman” (Bayazid, son of Mehmed, the always victorious)
The manuscript subsequently left Turkey, finding its way to Persia, possibly as a royal or diplomatic gift, a common practise between muslim courts. The manuscript eventually ended up in the possession of the Qajar royal family. We know this because of the extraordinary inscription on the later lacquered
binding, stating that the binding of the manuscript was renewed in 1287 AH / 1870 AD, on the order of the Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan, son of Fulana Bagum, descendant of Fath Ali Shah (r. 1797-1834) (Please see Yilmaz Oztuna, Muslim Dynasties, 1996, p. 798). The extremely fine lacquered decoration of the binding indicates the importance given to the manuscript by its Qajar owner Muhammad Qasim Khan. The exit stamp of Persian border control on the first page (fol. 1a), confirms that the manuscript left Iran in 1315 AH / 1897 AD. The inspection seal reads: “Taftīsh shud, 1315” (Inspected, 1897).
Sultan Mehmed II: Commissioned for the imperial Treasury of Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1451-1481), royal dedication in illuminated medallion on the first page: Bi rasm khizāna al-Sultān al-A‘zam Mālik Riqāb al-Umam Abū al-Muzaffar Sultān Mehemmed Khān bin Murād Khān Abbid Saltanatahu [On the order of the treasury of the greatest Sultan, the ruler of the Necks of Nations, the Father of the Victorious, Sultan Mehmed Khan son of Murad Khan, may his reign be Perpetuated]
Sultan Bayazid II (r. 1481-1512): His imperial seal is on the last page.
Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan: A note on the lacquered binding states that the binding of the manuscript was renewed in 1287 AH / 1870 AD, on the order of the Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan, son of Fulana Bagum, descendant of Fath Ali Shah (r. 1797- 1834) (Please see Yilmaz Oztuna, Muslim Dynasties, 1996, p. 798).
It has been in a Qajar family collection in London since then.