FOR AN UNRECORDED QUR’AN PALIMPSEST COPIED ON
AN EARLIER COPTIC BIBLE
AS IT ACHIEVES £596,750
A QUR’AN PALIMPSEST WRITTEN ON AN EARLIER COPTIC BIBLE
PROBABLY EGYPT, SECOND CENTURY AH/CIRCA 8TH CENTURY AD AND EARLIER
Estimate: £80,000 – 120,000
Price realised: £596,750
Christie’s is pleased with the results achieved for the palimpsest of a Qur’an copied onto a Christian text, realising £596,750 during the Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets auction, which is still ongoing.
As Lot 1 of the sale, this remarkable manuscript dates to the earliest period of Islam. The leaves from these folios derive from an earlier Coptic manuscript containing passages from the Book of Deuteronomy, which is part of the Torah and the Christian Old Testament. It was very probably produced in Egypt, home to the Coptic community, at the time of the Arab conquest.
This appears to be the only recorded example of a Qur’an written above a Christian text, and the importance of this manuscript resonates with the historical reality of religious communities in the Near East and as such is an invaluable survival from the earliest centuries of Islam. Christie’s is honoured to have offered it at auction in London.
This remarkable discovery was made with the help of French scholar Dr. Eléonore Cellard, as the folios are in fact a palimpsest, a manuscript from which the first writing has been effaced so that the vellum could be reused. Beneath the Arabic script an original Coptic text may clearly be seen.
The Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets sale continues.