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Paintings and Illustrations

Literary works, mostly products of Persianate epic and romantic traditions, dominate the sphere of illustrated manuscripts in the Islamic world. The Persianate tradition of illustrated manuscripts spread westward from Iran to the Turkish Lands, Central Asia, and Mughal India.
The majority of paintings in the Islamic world were produced as illustrations to a text. Many constituted cycles of the protagonists’ adventures. Such illustrated manuscripts generally followed similar decorative patterns, opening with illuminated frontispieces and chapter headings with the name of the chapter inscribed within. As many of these epic stories were composed in rhymed double verses, pages were divided into four columns by gold borders where the lines of the first and third columns would rhyme with those of the second and fourth columns. The script of preference for these types of Persian poetic works is nastaʿliq.

Illustrations range between minute to full-page. Frequently, details such as tree branches, architectural elements, and horse hooves break through the image frame, adding a playful to the composition.