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Islamic art at Christie’s, Spring 2021

Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets, Spring 2021

April 1, 2021
11:00 AM BST

Christie’s King Street, 8 King Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6QT, UK


Christie’s Islamic and Indian Worlds auction this spring features an Iznik dish evoking the garden of paradise. One of the prettiest Ottoman objects in the sale, Lot 93 dates to c1590. The unusual depictions of semi-fantastical animals – probably lions, a gazelle and a hare – is said to be inspired by designs on Balkan silverware. The bowl, with its border of overlapping heart-like cusped motifs, measures 30cm in diameter, and the estimate is £30,000–50,000. Contemporary with it, Lot 91 is more geometrically abstract.

The sale includes 62 carpet lots ranging form an early-17th-century Polonaise carpet with a high estimate of £2 million to a more affordable but also beautiful West Anatolian carpet fragment from Ushak (Uşak) with a characteristic saf architectural design, dated to the late 17th or early 18th century (Lot 102, below). Lot 104 is a spendid Salor ‘main’ carpet from Turkmenistan from the l. Main carpets are the large carpets created by Turkmen nomadic weavers for their tents. The design consists of small repeating medallions, known as gül (roses) that varied in form according to the tribe of the weaver. The pile in this example includes magenta silk. For a summary see the Oriental rug news journal [JOZAN] (https://www.jozan.net/christies-art-islamic-oriental-rugs-carpets).

A mysterious figure on horseback appears in a beautiful fragment of Mina’i ware c1200 from central Iran. Mina’i ware was a highly luxurious form of pottery created in Kashan before the Mongol invasion of 1219. The bowl will appeal to anyone interested in the great medieval steppe empires of Central Asia. The pottery fragment has undergone a museum restoration that has stripped away an earlier reconstruction of the missing segments that were still part of the bowl when it sold in the Christie’s Interiors Sale in New York in 2010 (August 31–September 1, 2010).


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