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History of Art & Architecture

The magic of Islamic Illumination comes




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FEBRUARY 3, 2020

Devyani Nighoskar

If a brief history of time flashed before our eyes and we could see the evolution of man from the early ages to 2020, a common tenet of humanity that would run through would most probably be ‘faith’. Be it faith in nature or faith in particles, or a fantastical higher power; humans have always embraced some sort of faith to fall back upon in the most testing of times, and therein lies its beauty.
Anahita Alavi, Islamic Illumination, SOAS

The Iranian style of Islamic illumination from Persia is one charming style that is all set to be taught in SOAS every Wednesday from 12 February to April 22. Generous in its Islimi (Arabesque) patterns, Islamic illumination in Iran, developed gradually since the 15th century under the patronage of Timurid rulers. Boasting mostly of intricate floral motifs (Khatei) along with the use of gold to create frames and heavy use of ‘Lapis’ for its rich blue colour; Iranian Islamic illumination has a distinct and a delicate artistic character.

In the fast gentrifying world, there is an attempt to revive the classical Iranian illumination of the 15th to 18th centuries. Talking about its changing legacy, Anahita says that “illumination not only has a decorative purpose but also facilitates the reading of the Quran. The motifs, however, are also largely found in building, manuscript, object and textile decoration...

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