Architecture in miniature : representation of space and form in illustrations and buildings in Timurid Central Asia
Representation of space and form in illustrations and buildings in Timurid Central Asia
Ronald B. Lewcock.
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This study attempts to explore a number of questions about the use of an architectural language in Timurid and Safavid miniature paintings of 15th and 16th century Central Asia. Of these the most important are the following: Is there a language of architectural characteristics that can be identified in the miniature? What is this language? Is it possible to find comparative expressions and representations between the painting and the architecture? Due to the lack of other . records stating otherwise, architecture of this period is often described only as a craft; is it possible to identify a discourse between artists, writers and architects that indicates common ideals and intentions for such things as beauty in form and space? In answering these questions five different methods of analysis were used. The first method was an analysis of the visual space and the formal organization of the miniature. The second method was an analysis of the content and the culture that the miniature visualizes. The third method was an analysis of the experiential space and perception of contemporary architectural forms still in existence. These were then studied in a comparative juxtaposition with the images of the architecture. This comparative analysis was organized in a fourth method as a matrix of diverse concepts and ideas in a search for possible interrelationships between several sources including literature, poetry, Arabic inscriptions and Ko'ranic verses. A final comparative method took the form of three dimensional constructs of the miniatures in order to attempt a parallel analysis of the spatial perception of the architecture and the miniature. The question of whether an architectural language could be identified in the miniature paintings was answered positively. Starting from a basic level, there were consistent similarities between architecture and miniature in building elements and typologies. The search that was made at the conceptual level revealed many possible common expressions such as those of passage, of entrance and its use, of focal paints and of nodes in the architectural and the miniature space. Building and form also appeared to be contemplated at the philosophic and spiritual level. In addition, an expressive vocabulary of design was revealed in the treatment of such architectural forms as iwans, pistaqs and their perception as rhythmic and urban structures. The shallow compressed space that emerged in the constructed interpretation of the miniature appeared to be reflected in the compact spaces created by accretions of cells of varying depths in the Ulugh Beg Madrasa in Samarkand. A potential for further significant interpretive exploration appears to have been revealed in these records of a remarkable time and culture.
Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1991.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 110-114).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology