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Stories of the Prophets Illustrated Manuscripts of Qisas al-Anbiya

With Karin Ruhrdanz, and Barbara Schmitz.

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Islamic Art & Architecture Series 8
Availability: In stock
Published: 1999
Page #: vii + 261
Size: 9 x 12
ISBN: 1-56859-064-4
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$65.00 $45.00

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Quick Overview

This volume presents a detailed iconographic and stylistic study of a group of profusely illustrated manuscripts, from 1570's-80's. This group comprises 21 copies of three Persian texts, all entitled Stories of the Prophets. The lives and deeds of mostly biblical figures, considered by Muslims as prophets, are mentioned briefly in the Koran. They are then developed and enlarged upon in the writings of religious scholars, historians, sufi poets, and popular storytellers. The variation of literary details reflect the differences between Muslim religious trends and the debts of Islamic thinking and art, to pre-Islamic traditions and the syncretism of these various traditions with Islamic theology.
Textual and visual analysis in this book show that in spite of the language and the Persian style of decoration, most of the manuscripts were copied and illustrated by a group of unidentified painters in the Ottoman Empire rather than Iran. The iconographical study reveals ideological programs and cliche typical of the Ottoman polemical discourse with its Shi`ite rival in Iran, and its Christian neighbors in the West.
The non-royal style of the miniatures suggests the existence of a hitherto unknown Ottoman school of painting, either in the provincial town, or in the bazaar of Istanbul. It raises new questions and offers new ideas concerning the organization of non-royal workshops and the role of religious art in various social cycles. These questions of cultural identity and social context of the illustrated manuscripts are studied in this volume. Also discussed are a literary and visual presentation of the individual stories, a reconstruction of a hypothetical model for the iconographic cycle, and a checklist of the manuscripts.

Rachel Milstein

Preface
1 The Manuscripts, the Texts, and the Illustration Cycles 1
2 The Iconography and the Ideological Program 25
3 The Painting Styles of the Qisas al-anbiya Manuscripts 41
4 A Royal Persian Prototype? 65
5 Provenance and Social Context 93
6 The Stories and their Illustrations 105
7 Checklist of the Illustrations 185
Bibliography 219
Index 239
List of Illustrations 245

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