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Indian, Himalayan &
Southeast Asian Art

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art

Art Passages

San Francisco location

By Appointment

3450 Sacramento St
Unit 216
San Francisco CA 94118

tel (415) 690 9077

Instagram: @artpassages

Asia Week Exhibition 2021

Adorned Words
Art of Islamic Illumination

The art of illumination of manuscripts in the Islamic lands, tazhib derived from the Arabic word zahab meaning gold, owes its origin to the practice of embellishing the word of God as embodied in the Qur’an. Due to the importance of the Qur’an in Islam and its place as “the mother of all Books”, Illumination quickly evolved into a sophisticated art form worthy of adorning pages of the holy book. Alongside with calligraphy it aimed to enhance the visual and devotional experience of the reader. Often the opening double pages of the Qur’an would be elaborately illuminated framing the calligraphy, and at times, it would be mirrored by a similarly illuminated double page at the end of the book. Additionally throughout the book, ornamental devices of varying shapes and styles would fill margins of the pages and by ample use of gold, Silver, lapis, and other rare minerals, the illuminator would create a delightful experience for the reader filliping through these adorned pages.

Eventually the application of illumination expanded to include literary and poetry works which allowed a greater flexibility in design and artistic expression.

In this exhibition, we attempt to demonstrate the sophistication and delightful beauty of Islamic manuscript illumination.