From the Mongol period onwards, the illustrated manuscript was the primary vehicle for the pictorial arts in the Persian-speaking world. Along with Persian language and literature, the Persian arts of the book spread over a vast area that stretched from Anatolia to Central Asia and India, constituting a visual lingua franca that was understood, reproduced and embellished upon.
Though the origins of Persian illustrated manuscripts lie as far back as the 12th century, it was under the Ilkhanid Mongol rulers of Iran at the beginning of the 14th century that the patronage of illustrated books became an established princely pursuit. Curiously for the Mongol Ilkhans, the work most frequently commissioned for illustration was Firdausi’s national poem, the Shahnama or Book of Kings. The interest in Firdausi’s epic may have stemmed from a desire on the part of the foreign Ilkhans to identify themselves with their Iranian subjects’ national traditions. An illustrated leaf in the exhibition comes from one of the earliest of these Shahnamas, probably made for the Mongol ruler Ghazan in Baghdad around 1300. It shows the Iranian prince and commander Rustam, depicted in Mongol dress, seated in a tent, receiving the commander of the Arab army, Sa’d ibn Waqqas.
This exhibition of over 20 illustrated manuscripts and leaves coincides with Islamic week at the auction houses in London.
Sam Fogg Gallery Web Site
Detailed schedule information:
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 5.30 pm