The Structural Analysis of Illumination Designs in the Paintings of Ibrahim Mirza’s Haft Awrang

Document Type : Research Article


1 Isfahan University of Art, Iran.

2 Assistant professor at Isfahan University of Art, Iran.


A statement of the Problem: One of the richest sources of Iranian art is the miniature painting in which the use of beautiful and well-designed motifs are abundantly visible in the forms of geometric, abstract or naturalistic motifs. Such motifs can also be seen in different branches of this art, including illumination and Shepherd. The illustrated version of Jami’s Haft Awrang, illustrated in the 16th century A. D. and in Mashhad School, is one of the most famous and valuable manuscripts of the Safavid period. The harmonization of the traditions in Herat and Tabriz Schools during the Safavid period and combining it with native and regional features of Mashhad miniature painting has led to the creation of 28 beautiful paintings. This illustrated version has a number of illuminated decorations representing a rich collection of decorative motifs of the Safavid period.
Research Objectives: The present study aimed at analyzing the illumination designs used in the images of the Haft Awrang and also examining their features such as form, color, place of application and the way these designs have been used.
Methodology: Data collection has been conducted with reference to written sources and the obtained data has been examined using a descriptive-analytical method.
Research questions:
- What are the qualities of design and motifs in the images of Haft Awrang?
- How is the use and method of illumination in the illustrated version of the Haft Awrang? Conclusion: The results obtained from the investigation of the images in Ibrahim Mirza’s Haft Awrang indicate that the illumination motifs used in Haft Awrang images, mostly include multi-petal flowers and Palmette flowers, and Khatayi designs as well as combined Khatayi and Arabesque designs have been most frequently used in the illumination patterns of this illustrated manuscript. Illumination designs have been depicted on the surfaces of buildings, tile works, minarets and domes, carpets and rugs, tents, and occasionally in humans’ clothing and animal coverlets. Also, these designs have played a significant role in promoting the decorative glory of the images and adjusting the composition of the paintings. The plurality of the designs and decorative motifs in this illustrated manuscript represents the decorative arts of the Safavid period and provides the virtuosos with a comprehensive collection of Iranian decorative motifs in one of the most flourishing periods in Iranian history of art.


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