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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 18:34 GMT
Rare copy of Koran found in India
Police in Bangalore display the seized rare Koran
The rare Koran and the painting
Police in the Indian city of Bangalore have seized a copy of the Koran they believe may have belonged to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb over 300 years ago.

The book was discovered after a raid on a hotel in the city. Police arrested a man who was trying to sell it and an antique painting for more than $1m.

The gold-embroidered Koran, written in Persian, has more than 1,000 pages.

Experts are checking if a signature on the back belongs to Aurangzeb, who ruled India from 1658 to 1707.

'Fragrant'

The Mughal ruler was a lover of art and literature, and renowned for his piety, apparently transcribing the Koran in his spare time.

Bangalore police have sent the Koran to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to see if its experts can verify how old the book is and if markings found on it were made by the emperor.

The BBC's Habib Beary in Bangalore says the Koran weighs 13kg and emanates a fragrance.

Reports say its 30 sections are all written in different calligraphic styles.

Joint Commissioner of Police Gopal Hosur said the man arrested was from the neighbouring southern state of Kerala.

Mr Hosur said the suspect had told police he was in Bangalore looking for antique customers. It is not clear how the man came by the Koran, which he told police had been treated with a chemical to make it fireproof.

The painting seized along with the Koran is thought to have come from Tanjore and portrays a king and his minister.


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