LONDON – A Koran written in 1203, believed to be the oldest known complete copy, has sold for more than $2.3 million at an auction.
The holy book, which had been estimated to sell for up to $715,000, fetched $2,327,300 at Tuesday's auction in London, Christie's said.
That was a record auction price for a Koran or any type of Islamic manuscript, the auctioneer Christie's said.
A nearly complete, 10th-century Kufic Koran, thought to be from North Africa or the near East, sold $1,870,000.
Both were offered for sale by the Hispanic Society of America, and were purchased by trade buyers in London, Christie's said.
The record-setting Koran was signed by Yahya bin Muhammad ibn 'Umar, dated 17 Ramadan 599 (June 1203).
It was acquired in Cairo in 1905 by Archer Milton Huntington, who founded the Hispanic Society in New York City in 1904. Huntington, the adopted son of railroad and ship-building magnate Collis P. Huntington, died in 1955.
The calligraphy in the manuscript was done in gold outlined in thin black lines, and the marginal notes are in silver outlined in red.
The kufic Koran bridges a gap between the earlier style, copied on parchment of horizontal format, and the later style of vertical composition, often on paper, Christie's catalog said.
The kufic script takes its name from Kufah in Iraq, an early center of Islamic scholarship, according to the British Library.
Because the script's vertical strokes were very short but the horizontal strokes elongated, it was written on papers in a landscape format.