Preparation of the Manuscript
1. The Structure of the Atelier
Right before the Timurid period (11th 13th centuries), it may be that the same person did both the writing and illustrating as evidenced in that Yahya b. Mahmud al Wasiti is attributed to having written and illustrated Maqamat.
Through an endowment deed from the thirteenth century, we find that there was an atelier founded by Rashid al Din. “According to the endowment deed for his quarter outside of Tabriz, the Rab I Rashidi, variou michael kors handbags s manuscripts in both Arabic and Persian were to be transcribed yearly. They were to be done i michael kors handbags n neat script on good Baghdadi paper, carefully collated with the original kept in the library at the Rab I Rashidi, and bound in leather.”3 For the making of these manuscripts it is known that there was a master painter and illuminator through the biographer Ibn al Fuwati.4 So while there is not much information recorded on the process of making these manuscripts, there are bits and pieces that give some details.
These manuscripts that Rashid al Din commissioned are “large format manuscripts with numerous illustrations that are either large squares or more often rectangles occupying the full width of the written space.”5 Besides being larger manuscripts the style of these manuscripts is described as being line drawings with color washes, which would give evidence that several people could have worked on one illustration. This methodology for executing the production of manuscripts did not change as time went on. In the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, the manufacturing of manuscripts would escalate under the direction and patronage of the king to foster and maintain an interest in the arts.
2. Pens and Brushes
A charred twig would be used as pen for drawing (possibly made of tamarind). Powder from the twig could also have been used for pouncing (a procedure that Persians did to transfer writing from one page to another similar to the effect of tracing paper in the modern world). Besides that an awl would have been used to punch holes.
Brushes have been recorded as to have been made from squirrels fur (from Sadiqi Bek’s account). The process for making brushes included collecting and then floating the hair on water so as to separate the hair. The artists would then collect the hair and lay it on a flat and smooth surface to dry. The shaft of the brush would be made from that of a pigeon’s feather. By collecting the dry hair they would secure and tie the hair with a silk thread to the pigeon’s feather.
3. The Process
To begin a painting, an artist would have secured his paper to a wooden panel with a clamp. The artist would then burnish his page, front and back, until it “achieved the proper gloss. The preparation resulted in a slick, somewhat impermeable surface.”6 He would have burnished his picture with either polished agate, rock crystal, or carnelian.
Unlike the Western procedures in creating their manuscripts where they stretched the parchment so as to keep it from curling, the Persian artist would sit on the floor, raise a knee to support his drawing board and begin to work.
After the paper has been clamped to the drawing board, the master artist would make his preliminary drawings. As mentioned earlier, the master artist would sketch the drawing and the younger artists would color it in. This preliminary drawing the Persians called tarh and would now be called a rough draft or rough sketch. After the preliminary drawing, the tarh, the master painters would often trace a previous painting. To do this they would place a thin piece of paper (or a translucent gazelle skin)7 over the master drawing or painting. The design would then be traced with the charred twig. When finished, “the tracing was carefully pierced along the traced lines. Charcoal powder held in a thin fabric (pounce) bag was then pounced through the piercings of michael kors handbags the tracing onto a sheet of prepared paper.”8 These tracings could be used several times and in fact were used often. After this outlining was completed, the younger artists would then take their color pigments and begin coloring in the drawing. The outlines informed the young artist what color to use and layer after layer of translucent paint would be applied until a glossy finish or the right shade of the color would appear.
If a color was ever the same, the artist would apply more paint and brushstrokes to make the color more brilliant. If a mistake was made, the color would be removed by wetting the area and stroking it with a dry brush until the color was gone. Even if an artist were to make the mistake and color outside the lines, a final outline would be made so as to darken the line.9
Finally, the master artist would do some final outlining and shading to complete the harmony and blending of the colors in his painting. This is where some of the talent of the master artist would become evident as he woul michael kors handbags d work hard at blending and outlining his painting just right. It was important for the Persian artist to achieve a balance and harmony in his paintings. And when he felt that his painting was complete, it was given to the binder. Here some marginal decoration may have been added but only before the book was bound. These margins would have helped bring a balance between the scripts and paintings, achieving a perfect harmony.10