Arts & Culture

Journey to Mecca: Rare 17th-Century Map Goes Under Hammer

Bonhams, an auction house and one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques, is set to auction a rare 17th-century map from the Safavid era, spotlighting Mecca at its heart. Previously showcased at the Harvard Art Museum, this historical artifact signifies a remarkable phase in Islamic cartography.

Not Just a Map, but a Masterpiece

Valued between 1.5 to 2 million pounds, its auction unveils a significant Islamic scientific tool to the world. Nima Sagharchi, of Bonhams, appreciates it as a testament to Islamic art and science’s magnificence and precision.

Mecca Map: Turning Point in Understanding

Historian Dr. David King acknowledges its discovery as a milestone in understanding Islamic cartographic advancements. It’s the only known example portraying the Islamic world with precise location markers, enhancing comprehension of Muslim cartographers’ ingenuity.

Although primarily directing viewers to Mecca, the map embodies a time when the Middle East was a global intellectual and artistic hub. Originating from Isfahan, known for its metalwork mastery, its creator “Hussein” was likely a notable craftsman of his time.

Tale of Provenance

Loaned to Harvard for over 15 years, it also graced the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas, reflecting its enduring historical allure. The map’s journey from prestigious exhibitions to the auction block illustrates the perpetual allure surrounding Mecca and Islamic heritage.

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