5 October 2020
Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 July 2022

Imagine a world without perspective and depth. That the whole world can fit into a painting in which the figures are elaborated regardless of size. Here is that picture, that is, miniatures, showing us the time of ancient people we don't know anymore. This art, which follows a completely different path from the art and development of the West, allows us to trace a different history today. The flow of time, which we think is always moving forward, leaves its place in miniature to a world where everything is intertwined, even divided and united. Miniatures ranging from handwritten books to houses continue to bring us stories from centuries ago with their striking colors.


Miniature is a general concept used to describe very finely processed, small-sized paintings and this art. The oldest examples are BC. It appears on the margins of papyrus in Egypt in the second century BC. Origin of the word; It goes all the way back to "minium", which means red paint, which was used in medieval Europe to decorate the chapters of manuscripts and to emphasize their initials. Derived from the Latin root "miniare", the word used as "miniatura" in Italian and "miniature" in French was also translated into Turkish as miniature.

The dominant color of the miniature art, which reached its peak especially in Iran and the Ottoman Empire, in this geography was red. There is no anatomy, depth, light or shadow in the eastern miniature. Distant and near figures are drawn in the same size, more precisely, large or small depending on the importance of the figures. Unlike the perspective in Western art, the figures in the front of the miniatures are usually shown at the bottom and the ones in the back are shown above. It may seem like a chaotic and incomprehensible form according to our current understanding, but it has also deeply affected contemporary painting in which perspective is broken.

The one dimension in miniatures is closely related to the aesthetic rules of this art. Perspective is not absent in Ottoman miniature, it is hidden inside the painting. The perception of time is also reflected by the use of different color tones. Colors such as dark navy blue to describe the night and gold to describe the day are preferred. Sunset and sunrise are shown in light blue. In miniatures, each color represents a different event, and the main purpose of the miniature is to tell an event to the beholder.

There was also a muralist for this art in the Ottoman palace in Istanbul, where miniature was at its peak and was the capital of miniature art at that time. Today, the world's richest miniature collections are in the Topkapı Palace Museum in Istanbul, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and the British Museum in London. These works from the past and telling us about that world build a bridge between the past and the future and enrich not only our cultural world but also our imagination in colorful books and figures. As long as you are ready to step into the colorful world of miniatures.

Important works have emerged in the field of miniature art in the world and in Turkey. In addition to these works, important muralists and painters were trained in our country, especially in the Ottoman Period. If you are interested in this subject, we have listed the important muralists of the Ottoman Period for you. Here are their names: Nakkaş Nigari, Nakkaş Sinanbey, Nakkaş Osman, Seyyid Lokman, Nakkaş Nakşî, Levni, Abdullah Buhari, Nakkaş Hasan, Matrakçı Nasuh, Haydar Hatemi…

Mürekkep 1

So how did these artists perform this art? What were the materials and techniques used in miniature art? If you are wondering about these, let's explain a little bit. Although the techniques change according to time and geography, there are a few pieces of information that generally do not change. For example; Eggs and starch were smeared on the pages. In this way, the paper would become smoother and brighter. This step was important for the brush to move freely and for the ink not to scatter. The dyes were generally obtained from plants, gold and mineral oxides, insect shells. It is known that brushes are made from the hair of cats and sables. How weird, is not it?

Compared to ancient times, the art of miniature is less common and less practiced today. Contemporary paintings are now being used instead of miniature art. Of course there are some people trying to prevent this situation. For example; Names such as Süheyl Ünver, Nilgün Gencer, Nusret Çolpan, Günseli Kato, Gülçin Anmaç, Gülbin Mesera are just a few of today's precious people who strive to keep the miniature alive. Just like these personalities, we, the art lovers, need to show the necessary importance and care to the miniature art.

As our Ata said, "A nation without art means that one of its lifelines has been severed."

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