SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Islamic 12th century zodiac basin sells for £3.1m in Sotheby’s auction

A stunning 12th century zodiac basin sold for £3.1 million ($4.2m) in an auction of rare Islamic valuables  at Sotheby’s in London.

The silver-inlaid, scalloped basin, adorned with intricate astrological designs, was given an estimate of £1m-£1.5m before going under the hammer.

However, a protracted bidding war between four prospective buyers saw its price soar to more than three times the initial figure.

The rare objet d’art was crafted in the shape of the sun and features zodiac signs, solar symbols, planets, animal heads and calligraphic scripts. Art experts said it was made to symbolise the universe and harness its energy.

The basin had never been displayed in public before as it was held in a private family collection for decades.

It was part of a wider Arts of the Islamic World & India auction, which celebrated historic artefacts and paintings from Asia dating across 10 centuries.

Items included a unique, 14th-century astrolabe, the only known version created by a Muslim artist in a Christian-ruled city, which sold for £741,000.

A Khurasan, silver-inlaid, bronze inkwell from the 11th century was bought for £277,000.

Leading the paintings in the sale, a newly discovered, 17th-century portrait of Ottoman ruler Suleyman the Magnificent more than quadrupled its estimate to sell for £438,000.

Experts said the “vibrant, Venetian brushwork opens a window on to a narrative of artistic exchanges in the 1530s”.

A portrait of Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Suleyman, painted in 17th century Italy, went for £75,600, nearly nine times its estimate.

Sotheby’s said the sale continued the strong interest in Islamic items. In 2020, it sold a 15th-16th century Mamluk carpet for £1.9m, a Mughal gem-set and enamelled gold flask for £983,000 and a mid-13th century gilded glass flask for £837,800.

The auction house said today’s sale exceeded expectations, raking in £9.5m.