Central Asian miniature painting
In the same period the Bukhara Kitab-khane had another very gifted master. His is the set of miniatures to Saadi's «Gulistan», done in 1547 (the Martin Bodmair Fund VI 5, Geneva), which in style greatly differs from the refined manner of the «Herat» trend by the manliness it displays and the simplicity of its language. It will suffice to mention two diptychs of his («The Parable of the Lebanese Hermits» and «The Parable of Khatim Tai») based on the Sufi ideals of just reign, on life in seclusion and in moral superiority of the poor. The didactic subject takes on a realistic genre interpretation in the miniature. Life in the desert, its laconic landscape, a small yurt, with women and children by the hearth, a poor man picking blackthorn berries — such, is the clear-cut picture of nomadic life masterfully painted by the artist. Although his name is unknown, the miniaturist of «Gulistan» 1547 is unquestionably a most outstanding painter and his style has very much in common with the short-story genre of the «provincial» trend. Bukhara painting kept up this trend during the whole of the second half of the sixteenth century, in the reign of Abdullah-Khan II (1557—1598). The copy of «Tukhfat al-akhrar» (Gift for the noble, Jami, SPL, Dorn 425) is a remarkable attraction due to its artlessness and bright popular print. The artist strips parables of their allegoric implications and depicts scenes of street and rural life. Thus, for example, in a miniature about a tortoise who was going to start out on a journey the central figure is that of an old man washing his feet, and the stream is a runker with a silver embroidery, and a margin decorated with overturned bushes in bloom facing the viewer (a device commonly observed in Central Asian painting). There are many illustrations on the same lines, one of them being the story of Sheikh Sanaan, and his love for a Christian girl, from the poem by Navoi “The Birds' Language” (1553, D. N. Suppl. turc. 996). The reign of Abdullah-Khan II, who consolidated the vast territories of Central Asia, was marked by the strengthening of the political, cultural and trade ties with many countries, India, Turkey and the Moscow state inclusive. Although military campaigns were not infrequent, the capital was building up; there were many poets Huge richly ornamented manuscripts with dedications to the ruler or celebrated patrons were being put out. «Gulistan» by Saadi (1556—1557), now in the Leningrad collection, is one of them. In keeping with the «rhetoric style» in literature, the life at court with its ceremonies, entertainments, madjlis, even hearings («The Generous Vizier Pardons a Young Bobbers) was shown in a festive light (ill. 44).
At the time it became customary for a group of artists to work at one and the same manuscript. This way «Gulistan» (PNS 110) is no exception: in doing it without impairing the style, each miniaturist exhibited his own individual viewing of a face, of parts of the landscape, of the architectural ornament. This shows, firstly, that there was a greater differentiation in the individual work of miniaturists; and secondly, the fact that many painters were wanted to illustrate a single manuscript, to assemble unfinished copies or to add pictures to copies captured on Abdullah's war marches, also shows that a rush, reigned then and there was a general lessening of the funds allotted to the needs of art.
In the course of forty-five years the influence of the Bukhara school transformed the refined Herat style. Small-scale modelling (i.e. virtually «small») refined blending of colours, rhythmical coordination gave way to large-scale modelling and bright colours.
There arises a notable change in the appearance of characters: artists evolve a rather ponderous silhouette, like that of the local type, accentuating the round forms of the female figure and the moonlike form of the face. Such was the manner of painting inherent to the renowned miniaturist in the reign of Abdullah-Khan II, also Abdullah by name. In all likelihood, it is with his participation or in accordance with his model that the diptych «Lovers» (from Jami's volume «Tukhfat al-Akhrar») was illustrated (ill. 47, 47a SPL, PNS 269). His main motif is vicissitude of love; since so, a dual interpretation of the Sufi allegories (which regard love as a kind of deeper penetration into the truth) affords treating miniatures as imperfect forms of our desires, as in accessible ideals... Elements of democratic innovations have effected even the portrait of a courtier («Abdullah-Khan at home» (Former C. Anet Collection, 1572).

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