Spring 2013

The Arts of the Book in Iran and Islamic South Asia, 1250-1650

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-267  |  Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-267


Yael R. Rice (Section 01)


(Offered as ARHA 267 and ASLC 267.)  This course considers the arts of the book at the royal courts of Greater Iran (including Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia) and Islamic South Asia from the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries. It will focus in particular on illustrated histories and poetic works in Persian, including Abu'l Qasim Firdausi's Shahnama (Book of Kings), Nizami Ganjavi's Khamsa (Quintet), and Abu'l Fazl's Akbarnama (Book of Akbar), among others. All aspects of manuscript production will be considered, from the arts of “miniature painting,” calligraphy, and illumination, to the preparation of paper, brushes, inks, and pigments. The class will explore in depth the nature of the royal manuscript workshop, the formation of visual idioms, the roles of originality and imitation in artistic practice, the aesthetics of the illustrated page, and the theorization of painting and calligraphy in technical treatises, poetry, and other primary texts. Emphasis will be placed on the great movement of artists, materials, and ideas across the Islamic world, all of which contributed to the rise of an elite, cosmopolitan culture of manuscript connoisseurs. Examination of objects in the Mead Art Museum and other local collections will supplement classroom discussion and assigned readings. No previous knowledge of the topic is presumed, and all reading will be available in English.

Requisite:One course in Art History or Studio Art. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Five College Mellon Fellow Rice.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2019