Persian miniature
Overview
 
A Persian miniature is a small painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a muraqqa
Muraqqa
A Muraqqa is an album in book form containing Islamic miniature paintings and specimens of Islamic calligraphy, normally from several different sources, and perhaps other matter...

. The techniques are broadly comparable to the Western and Byzantine traditions of miniatures
Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment...

 in illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s. Although there is an equally well-established Persian tradition of wall-painting, the survival rate and state of preservation of miniatures is better, and miniatures are much the best-known form of Persian painting in the West, and many of the most important examples are in Western, or Turkish, museums. Miniature painting became a significant Persian genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 in the 13th century, receiving Chinese influence after the Mongol conquests
Mongol Conquests
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

, and the highest point in the tradition was reached in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Encyclopedia
A Persian miniature is a small painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a muraqqa
Muraqqa
A Muraqqa is an album in book form containing Islamic miniature paintings and specimens of Islamic calligraphy, normally from several different sources, and perhaps other matter...

. The techniques are broadly comparable to the Western and Byzantine traditions of miniatures
Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment...

 in illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s. Although there is an equally well-established Persian tradition of wall-painting, the survival rate and state of preservation of miniatures is better, and miniatures are much the best-known form of Persian painting in the West, and many of the most important examples are in Western, or Turkish, museums. Miniature painting became a significant Persian genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 in the 13th century, receiving Chinese influence after the Mongol conquests
Mongol Conquests
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

, and the highest point in the tradition was reached in the 15th and 16th centuries. The tradition continued, under some Western influence, after this, and has many modern exponents. The Persian miniature was the dominant influence on other Islamic miniature traditions, principally the Ottoman miniature
Ottoman miniature
Ottoman Miniature or Turkish miniature was an art form in the Ottoman Empire, which can be linked to the Persian miniature tradition, as well as strong Chinese artistic influences. It was a part of the Ottoman Book Arts together with illumination , calligraphy , marbling paper and bookbinding...

 in Turkey, and the Mughal miniature
Mughal painting
Mughal painting is a particular style of South Asian painting, generally confined to miniatures either as book illustrations or as single works to be kept in albums, which emerged from Persian miniature painting, with Indian Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist influences, and developed largely in the court...

 in the Indian sub-continent.

Persian art under Islam had never completely forbidden the human figure, and in the miniature tradition the depiction of figures, often in large numbers, is central. This was partly because the miniature is a private form, kept in a book or album and only shown to those the owner chooses. It was therefore possible to be more free than in wall paintings or other works seen by a wider audience. The Qu'ran and other purely religious works are never illustrated in this way, though histories and other works may include religious scenes, sometimes even depicting the Prophet Muhammed
Depictions of Muhammad
The permissibility of depictions of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, has long been a concern in the history of Islam. Oral and written descriptions are readily accepted by all traditions of Islam, but there is disagreement about visual depictions....

, after 1500 usually without showing his face. As well as the figurative scenes in miniatures, which this article concentrates on, there was a parallel style of non-figurative ornamental decoration which was found in borders and panels in miniature pages, and spaces at the start or end of a work or section, and often in whole pages acting as frontispieces. In Islamic art this is referred to as "illumination", and manuscripts of the Qu'ran and other religious books often included considerable number of illuminated pages. The designs reflected contemporary work in other media, in later periods being especially close to book-covers and Persian carpets, and it is thought that many carpet designs were created by court artists and sent to the workshops in the provinces.

Style

The bright and pure colouring of the Persian miniature is one of its most striking features. Normally all the pigment
Pigment
A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

s used are mineral-based ones which keep their bright colours very well if kept in proper conditions, the main exception being silver, mostly used to depict water, which will oxidize to a rough-edged black over time. The conventions of Persian miniatures changed slowly; faces are normally youthful and seen in three-quarters view, with a plump rounded lower face better suited to portraying typical Central Asian or Chinese features than those of most Persians. Lighting is even, without shadows or chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro in art is "an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted"....

. Walls and other surfaces are shown either frontally, or as at (to modern eyes) an angle of about 45 degrees, often giving the modern viewer the unintended impression that a building is (say) hexagonal in plan. Buildings are often shown in complex views, mixing interior views through windows or "cutaways" with exterior views of other parts of a facade. Costumes and architecture are always those of the time.

Many figures are often depicted, with those in the main scene normally rendered at the same size, and recession (depth in the picture space) indicated by placing more distant figures higher up in the space. More important figures may be somewhat larger than those around them, and battle scenes can be very crowded indeed. Great attention is paid to the background, whether of a landscape or buildings, and the detail and freshness with which plants and animals, the fabrics of tents, hangings or carpets, or tile patterns are shown is one of the great attractions of the form. The dress of figures is equally shown with great care, although artists understandably often avoid depicting the patterned cloth that many would have worn. Animals, especially the horses that very often appear, are mostly shown sideways on; even the love-stories that constitute much of the classic material illustrated are conducted largely in the saddle, as far as the prince-protagonist is concerned. Landscapes are very often mountainous (the plains that make up much of Persia are rarely attempted), this being indicated by a high undulating horizon, and outcrops of bare rock which, like the clouds in the normally small area of sky left above the landscape, are depicted in conventions derived from Chinese art. Even when a scene in a palace is shown, the viewpoint often appears to be from a point some metres in the air.
The earliest miniatures appeared unframed horizontally across the page in the middle of text, following Byzantine and Arabic precedents, but in the 14th century the vertical format was introduced, perhaps influenced by Chinese scroll-paintings. This is used in all the luxury manuscripts for the court that constitute the most famous Persian manuscripts, and the vertical format dictates many characteristics of the style. The miniatures normally occupy a full page, later sometimes spreading across two pages to regain a square or horizontal "landscape" format. There are often panels of text or captions inside the picture area, which is enclosed in a frame, eventually of several ruled lines with a broader band of gold or colour. The rest of the page is often decorated with dense designs of plants and animals in a muted grisaille
Grisaille
Grisaille is a term for painting executed entirely in monochrome or near-monochrome, usually in shades of grey. It is particularly used in large decorative schemes in imitation of sculpture. Many grisailles in fact include a slightly wider colour range, like the Andrea del Sarto fresco...

, often gold and brown; text pages without miniatures often also have such borders. In later manuscripts, elements of the miniature begin to expand beyond the frame, which may disappear on one side of the image, or be omitted completely.

Another later development was the album miniature, conceived as a single picture rather than a book illustration, though such images may be accompanied by short lyric poems. The withdrawal of Shah Tahmasp I
Tahmasp I
Tahmasp or Tahmasb I was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty...

 from commissioning illustrated books in the 1540s probably encouraged artists to transfer to these cheaper works for a wider circle of patrons. Albums or muraqqa
Muraqqa
A Muraqqa is an album in book form containing Islamic miniature paintings and specimens of Islamic calligraphy, normally from several different sources, and perhaps other matter...

s
were assembled by collectors with album miniatures, specimen pages of calligraphy, and miniatures taken from older books, to which border paintings were often added when they were remounted. Album miniatures usually showed a few figures on a larger scale, with less attention to the background, and tended to become drawings with some tints of coloured wash, rather than fully painted. In the example at right the clothes are fully painted, and the background uses the gold grisaille style earlier reserved for marginal decoration, as in the miniature at the head of the article. Many were individual portraits, either of notable figures (but initially rarely portraits of rulers), or of idealized beautiful youths. Others were scenes of lovers in a garden or picnics. From about the middle of the 16th century these types of images became dominant, but they gradually declined in quality and originality and tended towards conventional prettiness and sentimentality.

Books were sometimes refurbished and added to after an interval of many years, adding or partly repainting miniatures, changing the border decoration, and making other changes, not all improvements. The Conference of the Birds miniature in the gallery below is an addition of 1600 to a manuscript of over a century earlier, and elements of the style appear to represent an effort to match the earlier miniatures in the book. The famous painting Princes of the House of Timur was first painted in 1550-55 in Persia for the exiled Mughal prince Humayun
Humayun
Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor who ruled present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early, but with Persian aid, he eventually regained an even larger one...

, who largely began the Mughal miniature tradition by taking back Persian miniaturists when he gained the throne. It was then twice updated in India (c.1605 and 1628) to show later generations of the royal house. The dimensions of the manuscripts covered a range not dissimilar to typical modern books, though with a more vertical ratio; many were are small as a modern paperback, others larger. Shah Tamasp's Shahnameh stood 47 cm high, and one exceptional Shahnameh from Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 of c. 1585 stood 53 cm high.

Artists and technique

In the classic period artists were exclusively male, and normally grouped in workshops, of which the royal workshop (not necessarily in a single building) was much the most prestigious, recruiting talented artists from the bazaar
Bazaar
A bazaar , Cypriot Greek: pantopoula) is a permanent merchandising area, marketplace, or street of shops where goods and services are exchanged or sold. The term is sometimes also used to refer to the "network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen" who work that area...

 workshops in the major cities. However the nature of the royal workshop remains unclear, as some manuscripts are recorded as being worked on in different cities, rulers often took artists with them on their travels, and at least some artists were able to work on private commissions. As in Europe, sons very often followed their father into the workshop, but boys showing talent from any background might be recruited; at least one notable painter was born a slave. There were some highly placed amateur artists, including Shah Tahmasp I (reigned 1524–1576), who was also one of the greatest patrons of miniatures. Persian artists were highly sought after by other Islamic courts, especially those of the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

s, whose own traditions of miniature were based on Persian painting but developed rather different styles.

The work was often divided between the main painter, who drew the outlines, and less senior painters who coloured in the drawing. In Mughal miniatures at least, a third artist might do just the faces. Then there might be the border paintings; in most books using them these are by far the largest area of painted material as they occur on text pages as well. The miniatures in a book were often divided up between different artists, so that the best manuscripts represent an overview of the finest work of the period. The scribes or calligraphers
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

 were normally different people, on the whole regarded as having a rather higher status than the artists - their names are more likely to be noted in the manuscript.

Royal librarians probably played a significant role in managing the commissions; the extent of direct involvement by the ruler himself is normally unclear. The scribes wrote the main text first, leaving spaces for the miniatures, presumably having made a plan for these with the artist and the librarian. The book covers were also richly decorated for luxury manuscripts, and when they too have figurative scenes these presumably used drawings by the same artists who created the miniatures. Paper was the normal material for the pages, unlike the vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

 normally used in Europe for as long as the illuminated manuscript tradition lasted. The paper was highly polished, and when not given painted borders might be flecked with gold leaf.

A unique survival from the Timurid period, found "pasted inconspicuously" in a muraqqa in the Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace
The Topkapı Palace is a large palace in Istanbul, Turkey, that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years of their 624-year reign....

 is thought to be a report to Baysunghur from his librarian. After a brief and high-flown introduction, "Petition from the most humble servants of the royal library, whose eyes are as expectant of the dust from the hooves of the regal steed as the ears of those who fast are for the cry of Allahu akbar ..." it continues with very businesslike and detailed notes on what each of some twenty-five named artists, scribes and craftsmen has been up to over a period of perhaps a week: "Amir Khalil has finished the waves in two sea-scenes of the Gulistan
Gulistan of Sa'di
The Gulistan is a landmark literary work in Persian literature, perhaps its single most influential work of prose. Written in 1259 CE, it is one of two major works of the Persian poet Sa'di, considered one of the greatest medieval Persian poets. It is also one of his most popular books, and...

and will begin to apply colour. ... All the painters are working on painting and tinting seventy-five tent-poles .... Mawlana Ali is designing a frontispiece illumination for the Shahnama. His eyes were sore for a few days." Apart from book arts, designs for tent-makers, tile-makers, woodwork and a saddle are mentioned, as is the progress of the "begim
Begum
Begum, Begam or Baigum is a Turkic title given to female family members of a Baig or 'Beg', a higher official. The term Begum is derived from the word Beg, and means a female member of the Beg's family.Also used Begzadi, for Ex...

's little chest".

History

The ancient Persian religion of Manichaeism
Manichaeism
Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

 made considerable use of images; not only was the founding prophet Mani
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

 (c.216–276) a professional artist, at least according to later Islamic tradition, but one of the sacred books of the religion, the Arzhang
Arzhang
The Arzhang was one of the holy books of the Manichaean religion, written and illustrated by its prophet Mani, in Syriac Aramaic. It was unique in that it contained numerous pictures designed to portray the events in the Manichaean description of the creation and history of the world.The book has...

, was illustrated by the prophet himself, whose illustrations (probably essentially cosmological diagrams rather than images with figures) were regarded as part of the sacred material and always copied with the text. Unfortunately, the Islamic suppression of the religion was so thorough that only tiny fragments of Manichean art survive. These no doubt influenced the continuing Persian tradition, but little can be said about how. It is also known that Sassanid palaces had wall-paintings, but only fragments of these have survived. There are narrative scenes in pottery, though it is hard to judge how these relate to lost contemporary book painting.
The great period of the Persian miniature began when Persia was ruled by a succession of foreign dynasties, who came from the east and north. The traumatic Mongol invasion
Mongol Conquests
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

 of 1219 onwards established the Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 as a branch of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, and despite the huge destruction of life and property, the new court had a galvanising effect on book painting, importing many Chinese works and probably artists, with their long-established tradition of narrative painting. The Ilkhanids continued to migrate between summer and winter quarters, which together with other travels for war, hunting and administration, made the portable form of the illustrated book the most suitable vehicle for painting, as it also was for mobile European medieval rulers.

After 1335 the Ilkhanate split into several warring dynasties, all swept aside by the new invasion of Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 from 1381. He established the Timurid
Timurid
Timurid may refer to:* Timur , also known as Tamerlane in English, a fourteenth-century conqueror of Western, South and Central Asia, founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty in Central Asia...

 dynasty, bringing a fresh wave of Chinese influence, who were replaced by the Black Sheep Turkmen in 1452, followed by the White Sheep Turkmen from 1468, who were in turn replaced by the Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 by 1501; they ruled until 1722. After a chaotic period Nader Shah
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 took control, but there was no long-lived dynasty until the Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

, who ruled from 1794 to 1925.
It was only in the 14th century that the practice began of commissioning illustrated copies of classic works of Persian poetry, above all the Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

of Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 (940-1020) and the Khamsa of Nizami, which were to contain many of the finest miniatures. Previously book illustration, of works in both Arabic and Persian, had been concentrated in practical and scientific treatises, often following at several removes the Byzantine miniatures copied when ancient Greek books were translated. However a 14th-century flowering of Arabic illustrated literary manuscripts in Syria and Egypt collapsed at the end of the century, leaving Persia the undisputed leader in Islamic book illustration. Many of the best miniatures from early manuscripts were removed from their books in later centuries and transferred to albums, several of which are now in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

; this complicates tracing the art history of the period. Miniatures from the Safavid and later periods are far more common than earlier ones, but although some prefer the simpler elegance of the early 15th and 16th centuries, most art historians agree in seeing a rise in quality up to the mid-16th century, culminating in a series of superb royal commissions by the Safavid court. There was a crisis in the 1540s when Shah Tahmasp I
Tahmasp I
Tahmasp or Tahmasb I was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty...

, previously a patron on a large scale, ceased to commission works, apparently losing interest in painting. Some of his artists went to the court of his nephew Ibrahim Mirza
Ibrahim Mirza
Prince Ibrahim Mirza, Solṭān Ebrāhīm Mīrzā, in full Abu'l Fat'h Sultan Ibrahim Mirza was a Persian prince of the Safavid dynasty, who was a favourite of his uncle and father-in-law Shah Tahmasp I. He is now mainly remembered as a patron of the arts, especially the Persian miniature...

, governor of Mashad from 1556, where there was a brief flowering of painting until the Shah fell out with his nephew in 1565, including a Haft Awrang
Haft Awrang
Haft Awrang by Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami is a classic of Persian literature composed some time between 1468 to 1485...

, the "Freer Jami". Other artists went to the Mughal court. After this the number of illustrated book manuscript commissions falls off, and the tradition falls into over-sophistication and decline.

Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 in the north-west of Iran is the longest established centre of production, and Bagdhad (then under Persian rule) was often important. Shiraz
Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

 in the south, sometimes the capital of a sub-ruler, was a centre from the late 14th century, and Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, now in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, was important in the periods when it was controlled from Persia. Each centre developed its own style, which were largely reconciled and combined under the Safavids.

Chinese influences

Much of the Chinese influence in Persian art is probably indirect, transmitted through Central Asia. There appear to be no Persian miniatures that are clearly the work of a Chinese artist or one trained in China itself. The most prestigious Chinese painting tradition, of literati landscape painting on scrolls, has little influence; instead the closest parallels are with wall-paintings and motifs such as clouds and dragons found in Chinese pottery, textiles, and other decorative arts. The format and composition of the Persian miniature received strong influence from Chinese paintings.

The Ilkhanid rulers did not convert to Islam for several decades, meanwhile remaining Tantric Buddhists or Christians (usually Nestorians). While very few traces now remain, Buddhist and Christian images were probably easily available to Persian artists at this period. Especially in Ilkhanid and Timurid Mongol-Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 mythological miniatures, mythical beasts were portrayed in a style close to the Chinese qilin
Qilin
The Qilin is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler. It is a good omen that brings rui . It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over...

, fenghuang
Fenghuang
Fenghuang are mythological birds of East Asia that reign over all other birds. The males are called Feng and the females Huang. In modern times, however, such a distinction of gender is often no longer made and the Feng and Huang are blurred into a single feminine entity so that the bird can be...

 (phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

), bixie
Bixie
A Bixie , is a type of lion-like mythological Chinese creature, or chimera. It is considered as an exorcising animal and is usually hornless....

 and Chinese dragon
Chinese dragon
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western and Turkic dragons. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs...

, though they have a much more aggressive character in Islamic art, and are often seen fighting each other or natural beasts.

Prominent Persian miniaturists

The workshop tradition and division of labour within both an individual miniature and a book, as described above, complicates the attribution of paintings. Some are inscribed with the name of the artist, sometimes as part of the picture itself, for example as if painted on tiles in a building, but more often as a note added on the page or elsewhere; where and when being often uncertain. Because of the nature of the works, literary and historical references to artists, even if they are relied upon, usually do not enable specific paintings to be identified, though there are exceptions. The reputation of Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād Herawī
Kamal ud-Din Behzad
Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād , also known as Kamal al-din Bihzad or Kamaleddin Behzad , was a painter of Persian miniatures and head of the royal ateliers in Herat and Tabriz during the late Timurid and early Safavid periods.-Biography:...

, or Behzād, the leading miniaturist of the late Timurid era, and founder of the Safavid school, remained supreme in the Persianate
Persianate
A Persianate/Persified society is a society that is either based on, or strongly influenced by the Persian language, culture, literature, art, and/or identity....

 world, and at least some of his work, and style, can be identified with a degree of confidence, despite a good deal of continuing scholarly debate. Sultan Mohammed, Mir Sayyid Ali, and Aqa Mirak, were leading painters of the next generation, the Safavid culmination of the classic style, whose attributed works are found together in several manuscripts. Abd al-Samad was one of the most successful Persian painters recruited by the Mughal Emperors to work in India. In the next generation, Reza Abbasi
Reza Abbasi
Riza Abbasi, Riza yi-Abbasi or Reza-e Abbasi, رضا عباسی in Persian, usually "Riza" or Reza Abbasi also Aqa Riza or Āqā Riżā Kāshānī was the leading Persian miniaturist of the Isfahan School during the later Safavid period, spending most of his career working for Shah Abbas I...

 worked in the Late Safavid period producing mostly album miniatures, and his style was continued by many later painters.

Further reading

  • Canby, Sheila R., Persian Painting, 1993, British Museum Press, ISBN 0714114596, 978-0714114590
  • Grabar, Oleg
    Oleg Grabar
    Oleg Grabar was a French-born art historian and archeologist, who spent most of his career in the United States, as a leading figure in the field of Islamic art and architecture.-Academic career:...

    , Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian Painting, 2001, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691049998, 9780691049991
  • Hillenbrand, Robert. Shahnama: the visual language of the Persian book of kings, Ashgate Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0754633675, 9780754633679

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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