Miniature, in its basic meaning is the name given to the small sized painting art applied delicately and very meticulously in order to make the text in hand written manuscripts easier to understand and to enrich the subject. When we look at the origin of the word, we may think that this name is given due to its small size. However, for one point of view, the name was given because of the letters at the beginning of the pages in hand written books in Middle Age Europe, were painted and garnished to red with lead oxide (in Latin minium). Ultimately, wherever the name came from, we call this art branch “Miniature” today, which we called “nakış-embroidery” or “tasvir-portrait” and which has its origins before Christian era.
Although the eastern and western miniature is almost identical with each other from painting art, they separated from each other by color and shape. Since the main objective is to illustrate, the story, incident or information is transferred by painting in classical miniatures. If we mention the Turkish-Ottoman miniature, we may say that it is essentially attached to the visual tradition of Islam. Miniature is improved and diversified within this world. Although it follows the main expression language, these principles were adjusted to the inclination of Ottomans, were affected by the wide geography of the Empire and the painting style of her neighbors, and a genuine painting language was created with the pluralism of the palace specific to itself.
The world view lying underneath the Ottoman miniature is quite different than the European Renaissance tradition. Although there was an increased observed in realism starting from 16th century the painters were not aiming to be realistic while painting alive or lifeless figures. On the contrary, they were declined to deny imitation. The main reason of this is the Sufism, which is an Islam philosophy that was widely accepted within the empire. In accordance with this belief, the images of the earthly entities are not constant. Therefore, traditional Ottoman artists implicated eternal and transcendental reality with their stylized and abstract paintings. In addition, the philosophies and working methods of the Miniature artists changed in time and enriched with new techniques and opportunities.
When we mention modern days, we see that the Miniature artists are in an innovative effort both in their artistic materials and styles. The Miniature art went beyond being a picture of a book with new techniques and opportunities and pushing the limits. Modern miniature artists are pursuing new horizons with their visions and courage while laying claim to this unique legacy. As long as we transfer this to the new generations in right manner, this art will continue to progress.