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Art, Allegory and the Rise of Shi'ism in Iran, 1487-1565$
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Chad Kia

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474450386

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474450386.001.0001

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Fixed-figure Prototypes and the Symbolic Order

Fixed-figure Prototypes and the Symbolic Order

(p.103) 4 Fixed-figure Prototypes and the Symbolic Order
Art, Allegory and the Rise of Shi'ism in Iran, 1487-1565

Chad Kia

Edinburgh University Press

Drawing on the intertextuality of Sufi discourse, this chapter is devoted to the analysis of the 1494 illustration from Nizami’s romance of Layli and Majnun, painted a few years after the Attar manuscript had initiated the use of enigmatic figures. The painting contains the first of several instances of what I am calling emblematic figure-types, which continued to appear in Persianate painting for decades. In this case, the conventional iconography is re-valourised and re-energised by the same impulse that animates the iconographical innovation in the Mantiq al-tayr manuscript. The discussion demonstrates how the emblematic depictions relate not directly to Nizami’s text but rather correspond to intertextual layers of Sufi discourse and the contemporary allegorical mode of reading romance.

Keywords:   Nizami, Layli and Majnun, allegory, emblem, intertextual, Sufi discourse, romance

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