For 130 years, a dusty wooden box lay shut in the attic of the Quazi family's Daribal house. Word had it that it carried a family curse.
But on June 13, when the younger members of the family opened it, they found a treasure trove of relics: A mat used by Prophet Mohammad, a shirt belonging to his son-in-law Hazrat Ali, the cap, comb and belt of 16th century saint Sheikh Hamza Mukhdoomi — complete with two Mughal era letters of authorisation — a scroll Quran dating back to the era of Mughal emperor Jahangir and some manuscripts.
"The house was crumbling and we were asked to empty it," said 77-year-old Quazi Mohammad Ashraf.
The state's archives and antiquities department investigated the mind-boggling find for two months before pronouncing it authentic. But further investigations are pending.
"The box contained relics with sanads (authentication letters from priests)," said Peerzada Muhammad Ashraf, deputy director of the department.
For the academics, the most intriguing of the lot, perhaps, is the 25-ft Quran.
"The letters are too tiny to be read by the naked eye and it seems that the author employed a rare technique to write it. Preliminary investigations suggest it could have been written by Baba Dawood Khaki, a well-known saint," said the official.
The Kashmir University's library department has undertaken to digitize the documents.
"The find open layers of history. The manuscripts document the transition of the society, religion, politics and Islamic practices," said Saleem Beg, head of the Kashmir chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
"The relics will also shed light on the route by which Islam entered Kashmir."