oldest miniatures found in Moslem circles are from the 9th, 10th,
11th centuries and they have been found in Egypt. Islamic sources
of later periods also confirm this fact. Seljuk Turks established
the first school of miniatures in Baghdad within their vast empire
covering Turkestan, Iran, Mesopotamia and Anatolia in the 12th century.
This school has continued until the end of the 14th century, but
the most important works and examples are from the 13th century.
"The Seven Sleepers", Important characters in history
1583 Islamic culture was influenced also by antique heritage in
the field of miniatures. The books of the antique age were read
and translated. These manuscripts were illustrated. Moslems used
these original illustrations in the translations;
but although the text were not changed in the later translations,
the miniatures were made differently. There are even differences
of style in these early works. The miniatures of the antique age
are disorganised and most of them have descriptive qualities. In
Seljuk miniatures, on the contrary, the subject was composedly depicted.
The subjects were taken from the antique age, whereas the style
was influenced by oriental, Uygur painting. The main characteristics
of the Seljuk-Baghdad school were vigour, briskness, power of expression,
caricature quality, over ornamentation, lack of scenery and accentuation
of figures. Before starting to study the Ottoman miniature, I shall
refer to two more schools of miniature related to Turks. This attitude
has a main reason, and that is the inevitable necessity to know
the contradictory schools in order to comprehend to one under study.
The Chinese influence in the 14th century Mongolian miniatures,
is felt in the landscapes made with Chinese ink. The dominant characteristics
of those pictures were Chinese style clouds, the curved lines and
flower outlines. The colours were dull. There were no figures in
the early works. Scenery and figures have been united in the Mongolian
miniatures after the Chinese influence ended.
portrait Characteristics, light and shadow, perspective were dominant
in large figures. The figures got smaller towards the end of the
15th century, during Tamerlane reign. The surfaces were covered
with superficial and decorative all over designs. The dominant subjects
were romantic stories. The animals in "Kelile and Dimne"
fables were pictured within sceneries. Folk stories such as "H´srev
and Shirin", "Leyla and Mecnun" have been depicted
in the poetic atmosphere of poet Sadi. The abstract expression gave
the same value to each figure as in the carpet motifs.