Persian Language & Literature

The Development of the Arts of the Book in Early Islamic Art of Persia
By: Dr. Mohammad Khazaie


The arts of the book played a dominant role in Islamic art. In no medium were the ornamental possibilities of the decorative motifs more fully exploited than in the arts of the book, and particularly in Qur'an manuscripts, which were completed with special care. All the other decorative arts, ceramics, tiles, stucco, stonework, woodcarving, metal work, textiles and carpet weaving, used motifs originated by the painter, illuminator and calligrapher, using the decorative motifs either alone or in association with figurative scenes. The materials, techniques and functions might differ, but the designs remained the same. This direct connection between the artists of the book and those practising other decorative arts, mainly in carpet and tile design, has been continued until now.

Our knowledge of the arts of the Islamic book in the early centuries of the Islamic era is based entirely on Qur'anic material. There are no finely illuminated Islamic manuscripts from 11th century Iran other than copies of the Qur'an; in fact, there are no other manuscripts at all. The main reason for the survival of so many Qur'an manuscripts over such a long period, (despite war and the burning of libraries, natural disasters, damage, damp and continual use) is the special protection that accorded the sacred text they contain.

The arts of the book have been classified as: calligraphy, illumination, illustration and bookbinding. The persent article will discuss the development of these branches of the early art of the book, with the exception of bookbinding. Because the manuscripts were used so much, the original binding was changed over the centuries, and so we know nothing certain so far of the oldest Iranian bindings in good condition and with arabesque decoration.

Calligraphy
The art of calligraphy, or beautiful writing, was cultivated by Muslim artists from earliest times, and played a dominant role in Islamic art, combined with every sort of decorative scheme. There are two principal styles of Arabic writing: a formal style with angular letters and a cursive style rounded letters. The first type of writing is known as Kufic, from the town of Kafa in Mesopotamia, probably the first town in which it was put into official use; the second type is known as Naskh. Both types of script were known from the early centuries.

Kufic characters were used during a period of about five hundred years for inscriptions and for copying the Qua'an. The earliest Qur'ans belong to the 'Abbasid period of the early 8th century. Some fragments of these Qur'ans are kept in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and the Biblioteca Vaticana in Rome. The other 8th- century copy of the Qur'an, with a date 784-5 A.D. (168 AH), is in the Cairo library. Most of the Abbasid Qur'ans belong to the 9th century. They are written on parchment in black or gold ink, and show thick, rounded Kufic letters with short verticals and exaggerated horizontals. This script was used in Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia during the 9th century and part of the 10th century.

In Iran the Arabic script had been adopted quite soon after the Islamic conquest of 642 A.D., largely because it was the official script of the new state into which Iran was incorporated. The methods of writing were adopted from the 'Abbasid Kufic scripts. But Iranian calligraphers used a variation of 'Abbasid Kufic scripts in which the verticals were more emphasised than the horizontals. This style, developed by the Persians in the late 10th century, has certain characteristics which belong particularly to standard Kufic, and usually goes by the name of "Eastern Kufic". This term, like Kufic, covers a wide variety of different types. Eastern Kufic was employed for the writing of Qur'ans down to the 13th century.

Several leaves of small parchment Qur'ans of the 10th and 12th centuries are known to be in various places. For example, six pages of a Ghaznavid Qur'an are kept in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from a manuscript that is said to have had a colophon dating it as 1050 AD, and signed by Ghaznavid calligraphers and illuminators. This manuscript is characterised by the most striking combination of highly decorative Kufic in which the verticals end in arabesques. The background of this Kufic script is enriched by rosettes and scrolls in gold, which shows the "Chapter of Unity".

In Seljuq Qur'ans of the 11th and 12th centuries the Iranian type of Kufic is fully developed. Two leaves from a Seljuq Qur'an of 1054 AD are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, written in Iranian Kufic, both leaves show interesting decorative features typical of the Seljuq style. Here the large letters of the fourth line, with the phrase, "Mohammad is the messenger of God" is written in a highy decorative way by having the shafts end in floral arabesques. Such decorative Kufic is known to us from Seljuq architecture and from wall paintings, for instance, in the interior of the tower of Pir-i-Alamdar at Damghan, completed in 1026 A.D.

Several twelfth century Qur'ans also bear dates: a copy in the Bibliotheque Nationale, written in Sistan (south-east of Iran) in 1112 A.D.; another in the University Museum, Philadelphia, written in 1164 A.D.; and a third in the Chester Beatty collection, dated 1188 A.D. There are fragments of other fine Seljuq Qur'ans in the National Museum in Tehran, the shrine of Imam Riza in Mashhad, the shrine of Abbass, the young brother of Imam Hossein, in Karbalah and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

These Qur'ans show a highly decorative combination of one of the most beautiful decorative forms of Eastern Kufic, the so - called Qarmathian script and ornamentation. Here the Eastern Kufic characters are integrated with a richly illuminated ground consisting mainly of floral designs and arabesques, which are painted in brown ink. The most striking feature is that the long up strokes of letters remain completely vertical while the short strokes are inclined or bent to the left. The outstanding characteristic of these Qur'ans is the elaborate arabesque ground on which the text appears to have been written throughout and which is reminiscent of architectural inscriptions rather than Qur'anic calligraphy. Some writes on Islamic art, for instance Safadi in his book Islamic Calligraphy, note that the name of this script has never been satisfactorily explained.

The Persia literary source, Nizam al-Mulk, the great vizier of the Seljuq, in the Sistan nama points out that the origin of the Qarmati was as follows: Ja'far al-Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with hm), the sixth Imam of the Shi'ah, had a son whose name was Isma'il. He died before his father, leaving a son named Mohammad, and this Mohammad lived until the time of Hurun al-Rashid. Now this Mohammad had a certain Hijazi page called Mubarak, and he was a calligrapher [who wrote the letters] in the fine [nazok] script known as muqarmat; for this reason he used to be called Qarmatwaith. This Mubarak had a friend in the city of Ahwaz [in the south west of Iran] whose name was 'Abd-Allah ibn Maimun al-Qadh. The latter was one day with him in private and said, "Your master Mohammad ibn Isma'il was my friend and he told me secrets which he did not tell you or anyone else". He then made several statements, introducing obscure words from the language of the Imams. He spoke of the Messenger and the prophets and angels, the tablet and pen, and heaven and [the heavenly] throne. After that they parted; Mubarak went towards Kufa, and 'Abd-Allah to Kuhistan of Iraq. Mubarak carried on his activities in secret, in the district around Kufa. Of the people who accepted his teaching some of them had been called Mubarakis and the other Qarmatis. Meanwhile, 'Abd-Allah ibn Maimun preached this religion in Kuhistan of Iraq, and later on in Herat, Ghur, and Transoxiana, so that the people called them [his converts] Qarmatis.

As a result, the Qarmathian Qur'ans, which mainly are or were kept in the shrines of the Imams might have been written and illuminated by these people.

In the 11th century the use of Kufic script became less frequent in the copies of the Qur'an. It was gradually replaced by naskh scripts, although it continued in use for chapter headings even at a much later date. Naskh reached the height of its development in the first half of the 12th century. From the very earliest Kufic Qur'ans a tendency to introduce cursive forms can be noticed. In fact, a purely cursive script had existed almost from the first centuries, employed for ordinary correspondence. The cursive script, naskh had many advantages over Kufic; it could be written more rapidly, and because diacritical points and vowel sounds were normally indicated it was readily understandable.

Two famous calligraphers were associated with the development of the naskh script. The first of these was Ibn Muqla (886-939 A.D.), a Persian vizier to the three 'Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. His contribution to the art of calligraphy was not only the invention of a new script, but the application of the systematic rules to the informal naskh hand. This he did by bringing every letter into relation with the alif, the tall vertical which gives the Arabic script its regular harmonious rhythm; it was his genius and knowledge of geometric science which were responsible for bringing about the most important single development in Arabic calligraphy. He was the true founder of the Arabic cursive script. He is also responsible for the development of another type of cursive writing: the thuluth. This generally followed naskh, but certain elements, such as vertical strokes or horizontal lines, are exaggerated. Here, thuluth is more cursive and more elegant than naskh and the words are placed above each other on two or even more lines.

The 'proportion script' of the Ibn Muqla was brought to perfection by the great calligrapher of the Buyid period Ali b. Hilal, known as Ibn al-Bawwab, the son of the door-keeper (d. 1022 A.D.). He was a pupil of Ibn Muqlah's pupils, and he managed with an artist's soul to give grace and elegance to the geometrical harmony of the letters designed by Ibn Muqlah. At the same time, in the 10th century naskh was used for Copying the Qur'an. However, the earliest existing Qur'an in naskh script is the well-known copy in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, which has been definitely attributed to Ibn al-Bawwab, who was also active as decorator, illuminator and bookbinder. This manuscript is finely illuminated. Its pages contain all the elements that were to become part of the general repertoire of decorative motifs and also as fine examples showing certain links between preIslamic motifs and early Islamic motifs. This term will be discussed in the next section.

The cursive script, naskh, had many advantages over Kufic; it could be written more rapidly and was easy to read. But the use of the naskh script as a method of ornament was less successful, because of the system of rules for the informal naskh hand. But an essential point about Kufic epigraphy is that it was not subject to strict rules. It gave the artist virtually a free hand in conceiving and carrying out its ornamental forms. The letters themselves began to be used as ornament, and this opened the way for the creation of ornamental letter forms. The free end of some letters, which at the beginning were simply squared off during the later centuries, began to acquire ornamental extensions.

Manuscript Illumination
As mentioned above, the Qur'ans are the only manuscripts which have remained from the early period of the Islamic era in Persia. In the earliest Qur'ans the individual suras were not illuminated unmarked, but later the close of a sura was depicted by a band, first without and then with a chapter heading (sarlowh), which indicated the end of one sura and the beginning of the next. In the eighth century the decorative band became more complex. The title of the suras is written in gold in the band, or in a foliated ground. The marginal design, now larger, almost circular in form, affixed only to the centre of the band, has attained such importance that it may be the sole decoration of the suras heading, and then as an indication of the new suras it becomes analogous to the mark of the 5th and 10th verses. In the majority of the Qur'ans of the early times, however, its subsequent transformations provide one of the main terms of Persian illumination. Finally, full-page decorative frontispieces appear as either single or double page compositions, and similarly ornamented counterparts were occasionally added at the beginning of the manuscript. They are sometimes decorated in imitation of mosaic, textiles, or architectural features but have no. At this stage the text was written in black Indian ink, but the titles of the different parts of the Qur'an or manuscript were very often written in gold or coloured letters. The text is occasionally set in a decorative frame. Manuscripts were usually written on white or ivory-coloured paper.

The ornaments of the Qur'ans of the 9th century are typical of the Abbasid style, in which appear many of the motifs of Sasanid art, such as wing motifs and a stylised form of the "Tree of Life" with scroll branches. The highly decorative chapter heading, sarlowh, of these Qur'ans shows the usual arrangement of the title within a rectangular panel from which extends a stylised "Tree of Life", which is one of the most strikingly beautiful features of the early Qur'ans. The other marginal ornaments - shamsa (medallion), for example, often serve to indicate, by means of the number five or ten inscribed within them, that five or ten verses have passed. Such inscriptions, like the sura heading itself, are nearly always upon a ground of arabesque.

Before discussing the development of arabesque in the art of illumination, it might be useful to look briefly at some decorative terms of the book illuminator, including the first page (shamsa), the chapter heading (sarlowh, unwan) and the last page (colophon).

The ornamentation of the first page conforms to the earlier tradition. In the centre is a medallion or rosette, known as shamsa (from the Arabic word shams for sun). The rosette was the shape of a slightly oval medallion. Above and below the medallion, may be ornamented cartouches and palmettes, in Persian known as `sar turang.' In early Qur'anic tradition, small shamsas are depicted on the margins of the text. The shamsa take a great variety of forms, apart from the usual round ones: there are eight-pointed stars, rosettes with `sar turang' and twelve-pointed stars. The shamsa are most often ornamented with arabesque motifs or sometimes with combinations of flower motifs.

The central part of the shamsa is occupied by an inscription, the content of which is determined by the function of the shamsa in each particular instance. It may give the name of the owner, it may play the part of a modern title-page, giving the name of the author, the title of the work and its various sections, or a list of the different works contained in the manuscript; or very occasionally it may include a dedication in Arabic or in Persian. In some cases, a large shamsa or more than one shamsa, giving the names of the works contained in the manuscript, appears on two pages.

The shamsa, also appears frequently on carpets, metalwork, on the interiors of domes over mosques and tombs, and other decorative art in Islamic art. The shamsa medallion often has symbolic meaning, for example, sometimes it symbolises the central unity of God, the vault of heaven and so on.

The ornamentation of the page after the shamsa is of two types: first is the decoration of the entire page frontispiece or sarlowh, the other is the decoration confined to the upper half `unwdn. In the first case the illumination of the page often combines with that of the following one to form a single composition in the form of a double-page with a symmetrical design. The ornamentation on the sarlowh serves as decoration of the beginning of the text, as decoration of a whole page and as decoration of the title page. The most interesting aspect of the illuminator's art is often found on the opening double-frontispiece. The second is the `unwdn, a large, ornamented superscription preceding the text and occupying the upper part of the page. The main function of the unwan is to emphasise and ornament the beginning of a text. The unwan also often contains the title of the work and the name of the author (if this has not already appeared in the shamsa or sarlowh). In such cases, the function of the unwan is the same as that of the shamsa and sarlowh, which it replaces in less lavishly illuminated manuscripts.

The last page of the manuscript gives the name of the calligrapher, the date, the place where it was written and sometimes the name of the person who commissioned it. The colophons are designed in the shapes of circles or ovals and decoration was usually the same as that surrounding the chapter headings in the same manuscript. These pages are mainly decorated with arabesque motifs.

As mentioned above, one of the earliest Qur'ans is the Ibn al-Bawwab Qur'an, copied in Baghdad during the Buyid domination in 1000-1001 A.D. This complete example shows how single-volume Qur'an manuscripts of the period looked in terms of their illumination, reproducing the older designs of the Qur'an in a vertical rather than a horizontal format. The illuminated pages of this Qur'an contain all the elements that were to become part of the repertoire of decorative motifs and also as a fine example that shows certain link between pre-Islamic motifs and early Islamic motifs. The frontispiece pages occupies an intermediate stage in the development of Qur'an illumination, introducing some new motifs, such as arabesques in the shape of the symmetrical wing motifs, and the lotus motif. The symmetrical arabesque at the top and bottom of the rectangular field are clearly derived from Sasanid Wing motifs of the type found among the circular stucco panels of the Sasanid palace at Ctesiphon.

Other illuminated pages of this manuscript that show the arabesque appearing behind the script are two pages which state that the versecount of the Qur'an is that of the people of Kufa, on the authority of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib, and these inscriptions are interwoven with Arabesque ornaments and flowers. The contents pages are also decorated with the floral arabesque design. The arabesque scrolls are applied as bands to the beginnings and ends of various canonical sections of this Qur'an. In general, the illumination of this Qur'an shows more use of arabesque scrolls.

As mentioned above, during the early Iranian dynasties the Kufic script became an important element in Islamic art, used either as script or as a decorative factor. This employment of calligraphy as a method of ornament forms the most significant contribution of the Samanid period (819-1005 A.D.).

One type of Kufic, in which the letters are ornamented with arabesque-like designs, was frequently used in manuscript illumination during the 11th and 12th centuries under Ghaznavids and Seljuqs. This sort of Qur'anic illumination, which was produced during these periods, shows us that the art of illumination was not separated from calligraphy. In fact the illuminator and the calligrapher was the same person, as was often the case in later periods.

One of the best examples of this kind of design, as seen in Figure 1, are some pages of a Ghaznavid Qur'an in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which are dated at 1050 A.D. The illumination of this page shows the remarkable ability to combine calligraphy and ornament into a decorative pattern. This manuscript is characterised by the most striking combination of highly decorative Kufic in which the vertical letters are finished with arabesques. The decorative motifs at the end of each vertical letter achieve a symmetrical balance with the same decoration of the next vertical letter. The background of the Kufic, in which there is no vertical letter is also enriched by arabesque scrolls and rosettes in gold. This style of the Ghaznavid illumination also appears in the letters of the fourth line of a page of the Seljuq Qur'ans in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which contains the last verses of Sura 48, "The Victory," and the title of Sura 49. Here the sentence "Mohammad is the messenger of God" is depicted in large letters and in a highly decorative way by having the shafts end in floral arabesques and heightening them with a touch of gold. The same design can be found in architectural ornament, for example, in the Nizamiyah of Khargird, middle of the eleventh century, which has letters with carefully sculptured outlines, each letter ending with floral arabesques.

The art of illumination was developed in the courts of the Seljuq period as well as the other arts. It is always extremely beautiful in design, especially in the Seljuq Qur'ans. The decoration of the Seljuq Qur'ans is remarkable in design and colour, and here too the main ornamental motif is the arabesque. All Seljuq Qur'ans start with the frontispiece, many of them with a whole series of such pages. At the ends of the books are fully decorated pages, sometimes carrying a colophon. These Qur'ans must indeed rank as some of the greatest accomplishments in the art of the book. Even more important are the purely decorative frontispieces which are outstanding in design, their arabesque decoration astonishingly varied.

Among the most notable illuminated manuscripts of the Seljuq period are the enormous Qur'ans known as Qarmathian Qur'ans, which are divided among several collections throughout the world. As noticed above, they are written in a superb script called Qarmathian. These Qur'ans show a highly decorative combination of fine Kufic script and ornament, consisting mainly of arabesque scrolls and floral designs, painted in brown ink. Furthermore, the spaces between lines and letters have been completely covered with endless arabesque scrolls in every empty space. It is almost as though the writing is set against a rich background of plant forms, even though the design itself is carefully separated from the writing. The outstanding characteristic of these Qur'ans is the elaborate arabesque ground on which the whole text appears to have been written and which is reminiscent of architectural inscriptions rather than Qur'anic calligraphy.

The idea of this type of decoration, the combination of endless arabesque and scroll forms, reminds us of the form of the "Tree of Life " in the pre-Islamic art of Persia. Here the Muslim artists applied this motif with a new significance as "Sidra" or "Tuba", a tree in the garden of Paradise whose height is unknowable. Because of this concept the centre of these forms composed of arabesquescroll motifs seems to have no beginning and no end.

Sixteen disjointed parts of Qarmathian Qur'ans are kept in the Imam al-Rida Shrine Library in Mashhad. These were copied and illuminated by `Uthman ibn Husayn alWarraq, the illuminator and calligrapher in the court of Mahmud in Ghazni, and have an illuminated frontispiece, dating back to 1073 A.D. The headings at the top of these pages are decorated with Kufic on a florid ground of arabesque motifs, below which are four lines written in Samanid Kufic script. In the margins are two gold illuminated shamsa, in which the arabesques are designed in the form of symmetrical wings. This manuscript is a classic example of the early Persian paper Qur'an.

Another 12th century Qur'an is in four volumes with interlinear commentary and Persian translation kept in the Iran Bastan Museum in Tehran. It was copied in thuluth for the Ghurid amir Ghiyath al-Din Mohammad (1163-1203 A.D.), in 1188 AD, in Khurasan. The margins of these Qur'ans bear a vertical rectangular design which uses Kufic script and the highest quality of arabesque motifs as backgroun.

The outstanding characteristic of the Seljuq Qur'an is the elaborate arabesque ground for Kufic and naskh script, which is fully developed in the decorative arts particularly in architectural inscriptions in the following periods.

Book Illustration
The history of Islamic painting in Persia, during the first four centuries of the Islamic period, is still little known to us, but from a few monuments that have been discovered we can at least get some idea of the richness and splendour of wall decoration. The earliest paintings that have been found so far in Iran are some fragments of wall painting, in the Iran Bastan Museum, Tehran, and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, preserved from the Nishapur excavation. These wall paintings, which belong to the Samanid period, may be dated from the beginning of the 9th century. The main decoration of them contains various compositions of plant ornament and wing motifs, or geometric pattern of squares and lozenges, all filled with curving lines that vaguely suggest leaves and rosettes, which to a certain extent recall Sasanid stucco and the 'Abbasid painting of Samarra.

Although no actual book illustrations of Persian schools have survived from before the early centuries, literary sources indicate that illustrated books were in existence in the 9th and 10th centuries. The historian Mas'udi speaks of seeing a book in 915 A.D., at Istakhr in western Iran, which contained the portraits of the Sasanid kings. Another account says that in 1092 A.D. the treasury library of Ghazni possessed the Arzhang, a book of pictures by Mani.

The early Persian school must have been influenced by the richly illuminated manuscripts of the Manicheans. Mani (d. 274 A.D.), was renowned as a great Iranian painter. His adherents made much use of pictorial art, especially in books. Manicheans immigrated to Mesopotamia in the 8th century, and by the 9th century had become so well established that they enjoyed the favour of the caliph Ma'mun (813-33 A.D.). In the 10th century, however, they were persecuted and contemporary historians (such as Ibn al-Jawzi), record that in Baghdad Mani's portrait and fourteen sacks of books were burned, and pieces of gold and silver were found in the ashes, because of the rich illumination of these books. Manichean art is known to us from miniatures and frescoes of the 8th and 9th centuries found in East Turkistan. There is a certain affinity between them and the Mesopotamian school, which suggests that Manichean Persian painting was already an influence upon earlier Muslim book painting.

One of the earliest examples of Islamic book illustration is a manuscript entitled Suwar alKawkib al-Thdbita, "Forms of the Fixed Stars," in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, which was written in 1006 A.D. The fixed stars interested the powerful Buyid amir Adud al-Dawla, who, about 960 A.D., commissioned one of his friends and teachers, Abd alRahman al-Sufi (903-986 A.D.) from Rayy in Iran, to compose a book on the subject. (Adud al-Dawla also commissioned al - Sufi to make a large silver celestial globe). The Bodleian Library's copy of al-Sufi's treatise was written by his son al - Husain b. Abd al-RahmAn after his father's holograph probably from Shiraz, the Buyid capital, in 1009-10 A.D. This manuscript is the earliest known example of al-Sufi's work.

Like the classical models, the texts of alSufi were illustrated with pictures of constellations. The illustrations were probably made in mid-11th century and its style is a fusion of 'Abbasid Mesopotamian or Rayy pottery influences with the older Sasanid Persian tradition. The illustrations of this manuscript forms in linear design around red dots indicating the stars of the constellation show great decorative skill. The rich jewellery of figures can be traced back to works of the Sasanid period. The folds of their garments are draped into a fairly regular pattern at the bottom, which recall closely the Sasanid basreliefs. The Arabesque patterning through the linear curve of the illustrations plays an important role. There is more use of arabesque scroll. In parts of the drawing, the end of the curves turn into arabesque forms. For example, Pegasus' wings are depicted with extremely beautiful fine arabesque motifs. This drawing shows that a developed arabesque style existed at the time.

The famous manuscript, Warqa wa Gulshah, is the only surviving illustrated Persian manuscript of the Seljuq period, and is held in the Topqapi Sarayi Museum library, Istanbul. This manuscript was probably copied in Qunya about 1225 A.D. In this manuscript, the arabesque motifs were applied as the main element for decoration of background of the paintings, and the surface of objects, particularly the tents. This book painting is a particularly fine example of the highly decorative style developed by the painter who has inscribed his name on one of the paintings in this manuscript, Abd al-Mu'min ibn Mohammad al-Khuy al-Naggash; his nisba would indicate that he was from Khuy in Azerbaijan.

The paintings in the manuscript follow the same principle as those on the Seljuq pottery of Persia. Both bear intricate design, placing the figures against a background of large - scale arabesque scrolls. The arabesque motifs of the paintings are in the more naturalistic tradition, rather than the flat arabesques of the pottery.

Needless to say, there are manuscripts on medicine of the Seljuq school such as The Mufid al-Kh&ss of al-Razi in the shrine of Imam al-Rida in Mashhad dated 1200 A.D., and a Dioscorides manuscript in the Topqapi Museum at Istanbul dated 1229 A.D. In the latter the plants are illustrated in a highly stylised fashion as seen in the figure, where the whole plant is drawn with almost complete symmetry, and the leaves are also depicted in the form of stylised symmetrical wing motifs, which, as mentioned in Chapter Two, were a very popular element for decoration in the early periods.

All the other decorative arts, ceramics, tiles, stucco, stonework, woodcarving, metalwork, textiles, and carpet weaving, used motifs originated by the painter, illuminator and calligrapher, using the decorative motifs either alone or in association with figurative scenes. In fact, decorative motifs were transferred from the arts of the book to other arts. The materials, techniques and functions might differ, but the designs remained the same. This direct connection between the artists of the book and those practising other decorative arts, mainly in carpet and tile design, has continued until the present day.