SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

Iranian-Islamic Illumination Course: Islīmī Patterns

Islamic-Iranian Illumination Course Image
Anahita Alavi

Date: 14 January 2019Time: 6:30 PM

Finishes: 18 March 2019Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: MBI Al Jaber Building, 21 Russell Square Room: MBI Al Jaber Seminar Room

Type of Event: Workshop

Please note that the course will commence on 14 January 2019 and not 7 January 2019 as previously advertised and that it will run until 18 March 2019 instead of 11 March 2019.

This course is designed to immerse participants in the magical patterns and colours of old Iranian-Islamic illustrated manuscripts. Inherited by various visual cultures in the Islamic realm, the tradition of Islamic Illumination has over centuries yielded diverse styles each of which have been fed by different aesthetic styles. The Iranian style of Islamic illumination is an eye‐catching case in point.
Among the diverse types of illumination, this practice‐based course focuses on one of the most significant and common forms of Islamic Illumination, Islīmī (arabesque motif), and aims to familiarise participants with the various steps of making an illumination work; from producing the materials towards a finished work. In addition to a brief historical‐theoretical introduction of the Iranian tradition of Islamic illumination, the course comprises a number of lessons for students to engage with:

  1. Preparing the paper; dying, sizing and burnishing procedures
  2. Making and combining colours
  3. Tracing the patterns on the prepared papers
  4. Delicate outlining by ink and brush (qalamgiri)
  5. Gilding and colouring

Following a line of gradual development, students will be guided to complete, combine and paint various Islīmī motifs in each session so that, by the end of the course, participants will have a portfolio of a series of Islīmī motifs as well as a piece of painted‐finished Illumination.

The course will run over ten weeks, and each session will last 2 hours (6:30-8:30pm). Classes will be held in a group format; however, the instructor will supervise individuals on a one-to-one basis while they are practicing. No artistic background is needed for this course.
Participants are required to bring their own pencils, erasers and paper or notebook for the first session in which they will be advised about the other necessary materials and tools needed for the sessions.

The course is held every Monday 6:30-8:30pm at the London Middle East Institute from 14 January 2019 to 18 March 2019.

Anahita Alavi is an Iranian artist who has learned Persian Miniature, Islamic Illumination and Geometric design under the supervision of the great masters in Iran. Her keen interest in the aforementioned areas sparked when she was sixteen and led her to choosing traditional Persian painting as her BA major. She used to teach Persian painting and Islamic illumination at the Payame‐Noor University of Tehran and a number of schools and institutes in Iran. Aiming to enhance her theoretical‐historical knowledge about Iranian culture and arts, Anahita has done an MA in Art studies at the University of Tehran and another MA in History of Art and Architecture of Islamic Middle East at SOAS University of London. Since 2016, she has been engaged with teaching and producing Persian painting and illumination in London as an entrepreneur sponsored by SOAS.

Fees: £250 (10% discount for early-bird registration is offered until Tuesday 8 January 2019: £225). There will be a small additional charge of around £25 for materials and tools. To register please visit the SOAS Online Store.

Organiser: London Middle East Institute

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4330/4490