Aesthetic and Symbolic Analysis of the Manuscript Illustration Alexander the Great (Sikandar) in Conversation with WakWak Tree (Talking Tree) in Shahnameh Demot

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Seyed Hasan Soltani
Armita Saadatmand


Combining Persian miniature and literature together has been influential in the recent decades. Illustrated Shahnameh Demot (Book of Kings, Great Persian Epic), which is known as the most valuable illustrated artwork in the first Tabrīz school, is considered to be the special style of Persian Illustration or Miniature during Mughal Ilkhanid era, taking advantage of interaction between literature and painting. This article attempts to examine artistic and visual qualities of the illustration “Alexander the Great (Sikandar) in conversation with WakWak tree” in Ilkhanid era. A descriptive-analytic approach is used to investigate the interaction between literature and illustration. The research results indicated that the tree is a concept existing beyond human mind, and that it is embodied through symbolism. In Shahnameh, WakWak tree or Talking tree is a symbolic tree where Alexander is in conversation with WakWak tree and the tree foresees his future. As the art is always influenced by the ideology underscoring the era, it could be alleged that mythological thought has been influential in the artistic structure of illustration, and it has been turned into an aesthetic language that has led to the reflection of the evolution of poetry in the illustration. In this illustration, by the adept composition of the debates raised, Ilkhanid illustrator subtly abducts the image from the heart of poetry, and intertwines his capabilities and potentials with words of poetry, such that visual symbolism and color, in keeping with the themes of Shahnameh, are some of the most important features embodied in the elements underlying the illustration.


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Soltani, S. H., & Saadatmand, A. (2017). Aesthetic and Symbolic Analysis of the Manuscript Illustration Alexander the Great (Sikandar) in Conversation with WakWak Tree (Talking Tree) in Shahnameh Demot. International Journal of Applied Arts Studies (IJAPAS), 2(2). Retrieved from
Original Article
Author Biographies

Seyed Hasan Soltani, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran

Professor, Department of Art

Armita Saadatmand, Islamic Azad University, Yazd Branch

MSc student, Department of Art and Architecture


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