Islamic Area Studies Group 5a

Report on 5th Research Seminar on the Saray Albums
Date: May 1, 1999


1) Report on Foreign Dispatch to Turkey
2) Individual Research Series Report #5: "An Iconographic Study of Triple-Paneled Throne" by YAMANLAR-MIZUNO Minako


1) Report on Foreign Dispatch to Turkey

The albums studied during this research trip were different from most manuscripts in that they were compilations of isolated works from different periods and places, using different materials and techniques. For this reason, there are many points that came to light only after careful examination of each individual work.

Each of the calligraphic and pictorial works are mounted on very thin sheets of paper and are protected from exposure by sheets inserted in between them. Many of the works were embellished with borders, which were clearly added later.

The drawings which were supposedly used as design patterns are covered with creases and pounce marks, which give clues to the original uses of these works. Among the works imaged on both sides of the page, there are some whose reverse sides, covered in the process of mounting, can be reconstructed due to the pounce marks.

There are several places where glue has dried on the albums, but the white color of the glue is different from that of the yellow glue manufactured in Iran.

The images painted on the textiles have been photographed directly and each weave has been recorded graphically . Although most of the weaves were simple, with one warp and one weft, we found that a variety of weaves were used in the images. More research is required on the materials used for the textiles.

The leaves used for the pictorial works attributed to Siyah Qalam are clearly distinguishable by their gray color.

It is thought that the types of glues, textiles and leaves used will be important clues in determining the geographical origins of the works and the albums.

In addition, although it is thought highly likely that album Hazine 2153 was compiled in the Ya'qub Period (1478-90) by Prince Aq Qoyunlu, Professor Seki pointed out that the album also includes works bearing the name of a calligrapher who was active during the Rustam Period, which was later (1493-97).


2) Individual Research Series Report #5


An Iconographic Study of a Triple-Paneled Throne


Thought to be an early 14th century piece, one of the Mongol court images included in the Saray Albums, "Mongol Ruler and Consort Enthroned" depicts a king and queen on a throne. The shapes of these thrones resemble triple-panelled folding screens whose side "wings" are hinged to the center portion to form double doors opening outward, much like the swinging doors on a Japanese shrine. Thrones such as these are not seen in Islamic images dating before the Ilkhanid Period but are depicted in Chinese images during and after the Tang Period .

The throne depicted in this Mongol court image uses a seating concept never before seen in Islamic thrones: the creation of a "special space" of sorts by the surrounding three sides. Prototypes of this three-folded screen may be found in Arhats by Liu Songnian, a Song Period painter. This concept was brought westward to Iran by the Mongols.

In images from the Timurid Period, thrones are more stylized and the side "wings" are depicted completely open. Here, the idea of creating a "special space" is abandoned. Probably by this point in time, such three-folded thrones no longer existed. Because they lived on only as "conventional expressions" of thrones in court images, it was not possible to depict them as concretely as they had been in Ilkhanid Period images.

Professor MURANO Hiroshi then commented on the presentation by MIZUNO from the point of view of Chinese art history. He noted that in China, there were two types of furniture used for sitting, the chuang, or bed, and the yi, or chair. They were used interchangeably in ancient times. The screen was known as a bing and was used both for concealment and to block the wind. There are many instances in Chinese art where bing are depicted set up around beds.