Lot 131. A Fatimid carved rock crystal chess piece, Egypt, 10th-11th century; 3.8cm. Estimate 15,000 — 25,000 GBP. Courtesy Sotheby's.
of typical form, carved with cut stylised foliate designs and dash details.
Provenance: Purchased from Michel Albert Manoukian, Paris, 7 April 1969 (receipt on file).
Note: The feat of carving rock crystal, an extremely hard element, was mastered by the Fatimids in the tenth century as evident from the magnificent, but limited, corpus of remaining works, including ewers, flasks and chess pieces. It was the abundant wealth of the Fatimid caliphs that permitted them to commission works of such refinement as the present chess piece. A similar example is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no. 669:1, 2-1883), described as “probably a king".
King or Bishop Egyptian, 10th century. Rock crystal. Height: 6.3 cm, Height: 3.8 cm of front protuberance, Diameter: 4.5 cm of base. 669:1, 2-1883. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Sotheby's. Arts of the Islamic World including Fine Rugs and Carpets, London, 01 May 2019, 10:30 AM