In the late Islamic period (16th -18th), perhaps even more so than in preceding periods, art was an instrument of dynastic expression in this great age of empires. Spurred by royal patronage, the arts flourished under the Ottomans and Safavids.
Ottoman art was a vibrant synthesis of Turkish and Persian-Islamic, Byzantine, and Mediterranean culture and styles through conquest, through direct invitation of artisans, or through the migration of peoples. The Ottoman Turks were renowned for their architecture, as well as for their traditions of calligraphy and miniature painting. They were also renowned for their decorative arts including carpet weaving, jewelry making, paper marbling, and their characteristic Iznik ware ceramics. The Ottomans promoted themselves as the defenders of Islam, and this explains why their public art includes a rich variety of ornamental designs but no human figures. Plant- and flower-based patterns were the most common. Observing Iznik ceramics, a superficial abstraction is dominant in the naturalistic plant designs. Besides, around 16th century Ottoman Miniature Art reached its peak. The Miniatures and illuminated manuscripts were created largely for the emperors, with their focus mostly on the important and powerful figures in their retinues. A unique feature of Ottoman Miniature was that it depicted the actual events realistically, while also keeping the abstract formal expressive touch of the traditional Islamic Art.
The Safavid style developed in Iran from 1500, when the country was re-united under the dynasty of this name. Unlike their Ottoman neighbors, the Safavids had no qualms about depicting human beings in all forms of art. These figures became an unusually prominent feature of the Safavid style. Depictions of elegant young men and women, often shown in outdoor settings, adorned many objects, from clothing to the bindings of manuscripts. One of the most renowned manuscripts from the period is a now-dispersed copy of the...
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