Central Asian miniature painting
Some structures of the Herat compositions, especially those representing throne scenes, characterized by methodical horizontal-vertical arrangement and hierarchy in placing the figures, were canonized by Bukhara miniaturists. Like in Herat's samples, in Maverannakhr's miniatures the Khan is always depicted in the centre, on the vertical axis, with figures of lower rank arranged on either side, at a distance, in accordance with the established ceremonial. Thus apart from continuity in art, it was also ritual and etiquette traditions, as well as the idea of courtlife and dynasty steadfastness as a whole that was getting firmly established. Scenes of receptions (madjlis) initially connected with the contents of the text, changed with time into two-page ceremonial frontispieces in honour of the person the manuscript was dedicated to. The right-hand page usually portrayed the ruler on the throne and the one to the left showed the way the feast was being prepared (following the writing, the illustrations were viewed from right to left).
Frontispieces also represented such unimportant subjects as reading and drinking wine in the garden (ill. 16, 17, Leningrad, IOS AS), lovers' rendezvous, a music or philosophic Madjlis out in the open. Possibly, hidden behind the subtle manner of the genre there is a symbolic implication in the spirit of the Sufi poetry, which used the vocabulary of love lyrics to express the author's love for the Almighty. Hence a sophisticated reader was encouraged to interpret the miniatures: to him a picnic symbolized man's oneness with nature, a kind of self-absorption, the scene of wine-drinking was understood as means of access to divinity, intoxication ending up in mystic ecstasy; the representations of animated rocks, containing grotesque profiles of persons and animals, were thought to be a pantheistic idea of divine emanation that lives on in nature, i.e. the thought that even stone has a soul (see ill. 18, 18a).
In the fifteen twenties besides art workshops in the capital, there Kitab-khane also existed in apanage principalities. Nowadays it has become possible to distinguish miniatures of Tashkent make. Here belong manuscripts to Navoi's complete works (SPL, Dorn 559, Leningrad) and to Kashifi's fables Anvar and Sukhaih (IOS AS UzSSR 9109). Tashkent was first ruled by Siyunj Khoja (Sheibani-Khan's uncle) then by his son Keldi-Muhammad (15251532). The style of the miniatures was in keeping with the tastes of the new gentry and differed from the official-aristocratic trend of the capital. Its inner stimulus was nourished not so much by the Timurid art traditions, as by the local folklore sources.
The illustrations to the fables by Kashifi (Husain-ibn-Ali al-Vaiz) adhere to the reserved lapidary manner first introduced by the Samarkand Fatkh-nama. The observational value of the subject of fable writing exceeds that of the multitude of miniatures illustrating epos and lyric writing. The illustrations to the complete works of Navoi (Dorn 559), made for Keldi-Muhammad in 1521 -22 are beautifully done. Side by side with, the traditional battle scenes, also such scenes as Leili and Madjnun at school, Farhad's and Shirin's rendez-vous, the painter of the greater part of miniatures (some of them are done by another hand) shows his own specific vision of the text. Of great interest is his consistent, presentation of Navoi's view of the duties of a sovereign, and of the concept of democratic rules. Farhad architect-builder is given special heed in the manuscript. The illustrator shows the kind and powerful warrior as seen by the eyes of the folk, sings praise to this courage, his love of toil, his talent, the creative nature of his activities. Miniatures of the Tashkent group form a branch parallel to the short-story provincial trend in literature and enable us to trace the process of democratization in Central Asian art.
In all probability on the whole the Tashkent group had rather a small number of manuscripts, for the historical march of events in no way added to the workshop's advancement. Yet, the trend that was formed there was kept alive in another apenage centre in Samarkand. This can be proved by The History of Abul-Khair-Khan (IOS AS, UzSSR, N 9989), compiled for Abd-al-Latif-Khan, sovereign of Samarkand, the cousin of Sheibani and Keldi-Muhammad.
The copy is an evidence of the fact that the miniaturist of the chronicle was either familiar with the manuscript of Navoi's works (Dorn, N 559) or he made use of the same tracings. In the throne scenes as well as in the battle scenes, there arc certain personages, even whole blocks, taken directly from Navoi's volume, sometimes with the help of a mirror reflection (the battle of Gaznevi against the Seljuqs). The general style of the composition is no less laconic, each composition having very few figures; the characteristic folk motifs, as well as the somewhat dull range of colours, slightly limited in gamut, are a combination of blue, red and green (the colours of the clothes) against a dull golden background. Of special significance, however, is the fact that the miniatures of the History of Abul-Khair-Khan echo the views expressed in the illustrations to Navois works, thus proving the need of establishing a just form of a rule, of introducing accusatory items and showing more concern for the life of artisans. In the dynasty chronicle of the Sheibanids the illustrator repeated the figure of Farhad with a raised pick, earlier known from Navoi's manuscript. In the scene Iskender (Alexander the Great) by the crossing over the Sur-Darya the great military commander is shown deep in thought, without his suite, and at the same time in the foreground two stonecutters are working at a cliff, bringing it down. In this case the image of Farhad mergers with the peoples vision of warrior-labourers and is thus perceived as a social metaphor (ill. 24).

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