384 pages, 8 1/2 x 10
152 illus., 90 in color
Release Date:01 Jan 2013

The Look of the Book

Manuscript Production in Shiraz, 1303–1452

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Published with Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Look of the Book assesses the role of the city ofShiraz in Iranian book production between the early fourteenth andmid-fifteenth centuries. It is the first detailed analysis of allaspects of the book – illumination, codicology, illustration,calligraphy, and binding – during this significant era when thelook of the book was transformed. Four periods of change areidentified: the years following 1340 until the end of Injuid rule inShiraz; the later 1350s and the 1360s, during Muzaffarid rule; theyears from 1409 to 1415, when the Timurid prince Iskandar Sultan wasgovernor of Shiraz; and the decade (1435–45) following the deathof Ibrahim Sultan, Iskandar’s cousin and successor as governor.Although the focus is Shiraz, the author’s comparative andchronological approach to the material means production elsewhere inIran is also considered, while the results of the study increase ourunderstanding of the history and development of the arts of the booknot only in Shiraz, or even Iran as whole, but also in other centers ofthe Islamic world that followed the Iranian model.

Highlights of this book, which is heavily illustrated with exquisiteilluminated manuscript pages, are its examination of illumination, anoverlooked area of book production; the codicological aspects of themanuscripts, including paper and text layout; and the development ofnasta‘liq script. The manuscripts studied are held in more thanfifty collections, primarily those in Dublin (Chester Beatty Library),Istanbul (Topkapi Palace Library and Museum of Turkish and IslamicArts), London (British Library), Oxford (Bodleian Library), Paris(Bibliothèque Nationale de France), and Washington, DC (Freer andSackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution).

Elaine Wright is curator of the Islamic Collections atthe Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland.
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