Rare And Important Mamluk Ivory-inlaid Wooden Panel

Egypt - 14th Century - Dimensions: 57.5 x 34 cm

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 Panelmagnifing glass

OTTOMAN TORTOISESHELL AND MOTHER OF PEARL INLAID CALLIGRAPHER’S PEN BOX

Turkey, 17th century, Dimensions: 14 x 15 x 34 cm.

Of rectangular form, standing on four legs, the exterior revetted with tortoiseshell and mother of pearl plaques, the sides and cover inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell, corners edged in ivory, bone and ebony, sides with stylized medallion and roundel designs, the sliding cover with a central palmette surrounded by cartouches and corner pieces. This box is a fine example of Ottoman woodwork, displaying a high degree of originality in design and quality in execution. Boxes of this type were important for calligraphers and served both aesthetic and practical purposes. Besides gracing the calligrapher’s desk, these boxes were used to preserve the tools used by the calligrapher, such as the reed-pen-sharpener, inkwell and the maqta‘ (the flat, long and rectangular tool, usually made of ivory or bone, used for cutting and perfecting the nib of the reed pen). A comparison can be made with an almost identical 17th century Ottoman calligrapher’s box is in Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

Provenance: Private French Collection

OTTOMAN TORTOISESHELL AND MOTHER OF PEARL INLAID CALLIGRAPHER’S PEN BOXmagnifing glass

OTTOMAN CALLIGRAPHER’S CHEST

Turkey, 18th Century, Height: 17 cm., Width: 48 cm., Depth: 26 cm.

Of compressed globular form with cylindrical neck Of rectangular form, the exterior revetted with tortoiseshell and mother of pearl plaques, the sides and cover inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell, corners edged in bone and ebony, sides with stylized medallion and roundel designs, the sliding cover decorated with scale motifs surrounded by cartouches and corner pieces, the front side has a lock to lock the sliding cover and a key. This box is a beautiful example of Ottoman woodwork, displaying a high degree of originality in design and quality in execution. Boxes of this type were important for calligraphers and served both aesthetic and practical purposes. Besides gracing the calligrapher’s desk, these boxes were used to preserve the tools used by the calligrapher, such as the reed-pen-sharpener, inkwell and the maqta‘ (the flat, long and rectangular tool, usually made of ivory or bone, used for cutting and perfecting the nib of the red pen).

Provenance: Private French Collection

OTTOMAN CALLIGRAPHER’S CHESTmagnifing glass

A RARE OTTOMAN IMPERIAL COAT OF ARMS WITH THE TUGHRA OF SULTAN ABDULHAMID II (R. 1876-1909) CARVED ON WOOD

Turkey, Reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909) Dimensions: 49 x 44 cm

The tughras of Ottoman sultans were rarely carved on wood and located above the entrances of palatial chambers and in ships of the Ottoman naval forces. Some examples which belong to this small group are preserved in the Naval Museum in Istanbul. The application of the imperial coat of arms on wood, on the other hand, is extremely rare. The only comparable one with the tughra of Sultan Abdulhamid II, known to us, is in the reading room of the Rare Manuscripts Library of the Istanbul University. This example is located
at the top of the main bookcase, produced by Sultan Abdulhamid himself who was a master carpenter. The book-case was originally located in the Yildiz Palace Library, founded by Sultan Abdulhamid II.

Every sultan of the Ottoman Empire had his own monogram, called the tughra, which served as a royal symbol. The Ottoman imperial coat of arms in the European heraldic sense was created in the late 19th century. Hampton Court requested from the Ottoman Empire the imperial coat of arms to be included in their collection. As such an imperial coat of arms had not been previously used in the Ottoman Empire,

it was designed on this request, and the final design was adopted by Sultan Abdulhamid II on April 17, 1882. It included two flags: the red flag of the Ottoman dynasty with a star and crescent, and the green flag of the caliphate, largely obscured by a cornucopia. Behind the flags are a number of spears and other weapons representing stately authority. The coat of arms in hand is a finely executed, rare example of its kind. The letters of the tughra of the sultan are clear and legible.

A RARE OTTOMAN IMPERIAL COAT OF ARMS WITH THE TUGHRA OF SULTAN ABDULHAMID II (R. 1876-1909) CARVED ON WOODmagnifing glass

Rare Ottoman Lacquered Pencase

Dated 1196 AH / 1781 AD - Height: 30.6 cm

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 Pencasemagnifing glass

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Ottoman Mother Of Pearl Inlaid Wooden Scribe's Box

Turkey - Reign of Sultan Abdulaziz (r. 1861-1876) - Height:18.8 cm - Width: 20.1 cm - Length: 30.5 cm

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 Boxmagnifing glass

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Ottoman Ivory Inlaid Wooden Scribe's Box

Turkey - Reign of Sultan Abdulaziz (r. 1861-1876) - Height: 17 cm - Depth: 28 cm

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 Boxmagnifing glass

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A Magnificent Ottoman Tortoiseshell And Mother-Of-Pearl Box

Turkey - Circa 1640

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 Boxmagnifing glass

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