Accession of Suleyman




Adam and Eve from A-Tawarikh


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Islamic Miniatures

The 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.

Realism, 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.

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