Baisunghur Mirza’s Academy and Library

Much of the new impetus to the book arts in general, as well as binding in particular, were the result of an academy and library which was established in about 823/1420 by Baisunghur Mirza, the son of Shah Rukh and grandson of Timur. Baisunghur was an artist and great patron of the arts. Many pupils of Mir Ali, inventor of the nasta’likh script, who worked in the academy and library, were occupied in copying manuscripts there. Baisunghur had a profound influence on the development of Persian miniature painting and we can see how these new styles of painting were readily transferred to the more elaborate book covers. At this academy, which was in existence for about one hundred years, craftsmen were trained in all the arts of the book and, during the same period, there was considerable interchange among the major Persian cultural centres. For example, at Herat a calligrapher called Ja‘far Tabrizi prepared reports for Baisunghur, in one of which (now in the Topkapi Sarayi in Istanbul), there are four references to the art of bookbinding.

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