Christie's to auction historic Indian art, gems in UK

Christie's to auction historic Indian art, gems in UK

A bejewelled medieval dagger from the Mughal courts of India will be the showpiece of a major auction here at Christie's next week as part of its Islamic Art Week sale.

The pistol-grip pale jade hilt of the dagger or 'khanjar' (Lot 145) set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, yellow sapphires and coloured gemstones dates back to the 17th century and is expected to fetch between 100,000 to 150,000 pounds.

"It is definitely the top lot among the Indian works, which also include some great paintings as well as works on paper such as manuscripts," said Sara Plumbly, head of the Islamic and Indian Department at Christie's at King Street, London.

"The market for Indian works of art has really strengthened, especially over the last two years. With every sale we see new buyers emerging," she added.

The Islamic Art Week sale at Christie's, between April 8 and 11, also includes the sale of Oriental rugs and carpets and is preceded by an exhibition open to the public over the weekend.

Another highlight from the Mughal courts of India is a high quality jade pendant (haldili) priced between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds and elegantly inscribed with verses from the Quran dating back to 1597-98 AD, making it the earliest known Mughal jade.

"At this moment in the late 16th century the Emperor Akbar was still the head of the Mughal Empire but his young son – Prince Salim (later Emperor Jahangir) – was beginning to make his play for power.

"Although there are very few extant Mughal jades that can be plausibly attributed to the period of Akbar's reign, the existence of such works may be inferred through the visit to the imperial court in 1563 of a Central Asian jade merchant Khwaja Mu'in who was the overseer at the main jade-bearing river in Kashgar," Christie's said in a statement.

A folio from an important Mughal album made for the Emperor Shah Jahan in around 1620 is estimated to fetch between 30,000-50,000 pounds.

Indian art is also well represented with Mughal works as well as paintings from the Punjab Hills, South India and the Deccan.

Included in the small selection of paintings of Sikh interest is a portrait of Rani Jindan, Maharaja Ranjit Singh's youngest wife (1,500 pounds).

Rani Jindan was the mother of Maharaja Duleep Singh and became the regent when her son ascended the throne when he was only 5.

She died in London in 1863.

On April 10, the sale of art of the Islamic and Indian worlds includes a private collection donated to benefit the University of Oxford, covering works of art from across the Islamic world such as India, Turkey and Iran.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox