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Persian art and architecture

The Mongol and Timurid Periods

The Mongol invasions of the first half of the 13th cent. destroyed many towns and much art. We know little of Persian painting until the so-called Mongol school of the 14th cent. The most famous work of this period is the magnificent Demotte Shah Namah (The History of Kings). The book has been divided up, and many leaves are in American collections. The pictures are large, somber in color, and free and lively in execution, with landscape playing an important role. Small Shah Namahs have simple illustrations in yellow, red, blue, and gold.

Timurid painting of the 15th cent. employs smaller figures and more static compositions. Chinese influences have been integrated and patterned symmetry reemerges. Bihzad, the greatest painter in this style, is renowned for his fine, firm line and exquisite delicacy. The Blue Mosque at Tabriz, named for its brilliant faience casing, is contemporary. Mosaic faience-covered architecture reached its height in 16th-century Isfahan in the great building complex Maidan-i Shah.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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