An Aberration in the Islamicate Pictorial Tradition

As a trained miniature painter I like to work in Siyah Qalam. I have great admiration for this extraordinary 15th Century artist namely Muhammad Siyah Qalam Herati.

The Muhammad Siyah Qalam Illustrations

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) ca. 1330–40 Iran, probably Isfahan Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper A manuscript illustration reflecting the traditional, highly formalised, Islamic style.   Abu’l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) ca. 1330–40 Iran, probably Isfahan Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper A manuscript illustration reflecting the traditional, highly formalised, Islamic style.

Muhammad Siyah Qalam? 15th century? Central Asia? Black, red, blue ink on paper A representative example of Muhammad Siyah Qalam illustrations  Muhammad Siyah Qalam 15th century Central Asia Black, red, blue ink on paper Topkapi Salayi Library A representative example of Muhammad Siyah Qalam illustrations

The paintings associated with Muhammad Siyah Qalam constitute, in their originality and strange subject matter, a striking aberration in the Islamic pictorial tradition. Unlike the book illustrations most immediately associated with Islamicate painting, with their highly formalized, almost didactic imagery, these expressive and imaginative compositions eschew convention. Dating to approximately the 15th century, these paintings depict nomadic people and demons in a style that incorporates elements of Persian, Indian, and Chinese artistic traditions.[1] Sixty-five works originally collected in two albums, the Ya’qub beg Album and the Fatih Album, at the Topkapi Palace in Turkey, bear signatures attributing the works…

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