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Rare Persian celestial globe up for auction

New Delhi: A rare 18th century Persian globe, one of only 200 such astronomical instruments available in the world is up for grabs in the Bonhams upcoming Indian and Islamic art sale.

The finely engraved celestial treasure from the Zand dynasty passed down through a private English family, contains the position of 83 stars and their Persian names as well as the Persian names for the North and South Poles.

"The rare and unique celestial globe is estimated to fetch between 40,000 to 96,000 pounds at the next sale of Indian and Islamic art on October 4 in New Bond Street in London," according to an official of the auction house.

The globe dated 1776 AD, the only known dated example securely attributable to the Zand period is an important addition to the small surviving group of Persian celestial globes.

"The use of gold and the very fine script indicate the possibility that this globe was made for the Zand ruler Mohammed Karim Khan Zand (1751-1794)," says the auction house.

The Zand period is remarkable for its short length and high artistic productivity. Spanning only 44 years, and an incredible seven rulers, it was a period of relative peace and economic growth when many territories previously lost to the Ottomans were recaptured.

The British established a trading post in the port of Busehr, extending the influence of the British East India company in Iran. The art of this era produced a distinct school of painting, fine enamel work and calligraphy.

Celestial globes were used primarily for solving problems in astronomy. Although known to have been used in antiquity, the form of the celestial globe came into being in the Islamic world. The globe depicts various constellations in the northern and the southern hemisphere.

Only 200 instruments remain in private and museum collection worldwide, the earliest dating to the 11th century.

The globe up for auction features labelled stars such as the Pole star, the back of the Lion, three stars in the tail of Ursa major, Sirrah in Pegasus, the knee of the Archer among others.

lso included in the upcoming Bonhams auction is a Persian manuscript illustrated with eleven miniatures in the Kashmiri style.

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