The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

Islamic Art and the Ottoman Empire

What is a miniature painting?

Particularly popular in Persian, Ottoman, and Mughal traditions, miniature paintings are small works on paper, whether book illustrations or separate paintings kept in albums (known as a muraqqa.) Miniature paintings were not framed and not displayed on walls, but were meant to be held in one’s hands. Miniature painting required years of training and apprenticeship to create. One of the most important centers of miniature painting was the royal Herat School in Afghanistan, where students were instructed on painting and calligraphy. During the early sixteenth century, the school was moved to Tabriz, Iran. Miniature painters sat on the ground with one knee bent to support the painting board. Multiple layers of colors derived from pigments were applied, including gold, and then the painting was burnished.


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