A single leaf from an early manuscript of a collection of tales known as the Maqamat of Al-Hariri of Basra, sold for a far higher than expected £21,000 by Bloomsbury Auctions.

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Offered at Bloomsbury Auctions (30/20/12% buyer’s premium) on October 30, this work known in English as the ‘Complete Book of the Medical Art’ preceded and indeed influenced the work of the great Persian polymath we know as Avicenna.

It was the work of a 10th century Persian physician and psychologist, Ali ibn al-’Abbas al-Majusi, who is also known as Masoudi, or in a Latinised form of his name as Haly Abbas. The Bloomsbury manuscript dated from c.1582-84 and ran to some 600 leaves, all in the hand of a single scribe.

Cross purposes

Produced in Granada in 1507 and the work of Al-Tarjuman, which simply means ‘the translator’, an Arabic treatise of 55 leaves that refutes the religious arguments of the people of the cross, the Christians, realised £20,000.

Its creator was born in Palma de Mallorca, becoming first a member of a Franciscan order and not converting to Islam until, aged 35, he began working in Tunisia. Though he produced many successful works in both Catalan and Arabic, this one was by far his most famous and influential.

Paddle number

Shown top is a single leaf from a manuscript of the Maqamat of Al-Hariri of Basra that is thought most likely to have been produced in Mamluk Syria and to date from c.1300AD.

Depicting a young man paddling a small boat, it shows some water staining and fading, but estimated at just £1500-2000 it went on to sell instead at £21,000.