Chapter 2 examines the representation of epigraphic inscriptions in Persian painting, inscriptions that appeared in pictures as ornaments adorning buildings. It argues for a shift in these inscriptions’ content and function in the late Timurid period. Until the mid-fifteenth century, inscriptions were mainly used to link painting to patron. But in the Cairo Bustan, the poetic verses were chosen so as to convey a celebration of the painter. As such they constitute an example of wasf (ekphrasis), a description of the visual that was also a discourse of praise. Moreover, the verses were picked from the poetry of ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami, a late fifteenth-century poet. The inscriptions thus staged a model for the pictures’ reception, a model in which the painting would circulate among famous poets such as Jami, prompting responses about the medium and its makers. A possible institutional setting for such a scenario was the majlis, a form of social gathering that fuelled the art of jawab (response).
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