71 miniatures, painted by the 13th century Azerbaijani artist Abdulmomin
Mohammad al-Khoyi, based on the famous love story of “Varga and Gulsha” seven
centuries ago, are among the first pearls not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the entire
Middle Eastern miniature flower garden. To understand the historical value of these
works of art over all other virtues, it is necessary to consider them together with sloping
and ascending path of miniature art, which literally stretches from that century to
the present day. These works, which are relics of Abdulmomin Muhammad al-
Khoyi, are not only valuable as beautiful works of art, but also extremely important
as one of the first swallows that paved the way, gave impetus to the future development
of miniature and brought the spring of this art.
In the thirteenth century, both our language and our poetry in our native language
began to revive, narrowing the field of Persian poetry, on the other hand, overcoming
the circle of prohibitions, our miniature began to flourish.
It is very interesting that both of these very important tendencies are lead by two
powerful creators from the same city of Azerbaijan. The existence of the lexicographer,
scholar, linguist, poet, philosopher Husameddin Khoyi, as well as his compatriot,
miniaturist painter Abdulmomin Muhammad and a large group of talented penowners
around them, who compiled the first Persian-Turkic glossary, demonstrates
that in the 13th century Khoy had grown into one of the important cultural and scientific
centers along with our cities such as Tabriz, Maragha, Ganja and Shamakhi.
What adds weight to the art of Abdulmomin Muhammad al-Khoyi is that this series
of miniatures should never be perceived as an event exceptionally in the cultural
history of Azerbaijan. The miniatures painted by him to "Varga and Gulsha" written
in Persian in 1030 by the 11th century poet Ayyugi, are among the turning points in
the history of painting of the entire Muslim East. This series has a significant impact
on the establishment of a new stage in the development of the art of book in the Middle
East, the tradition of formal manuscripts, as well as on the development of miniature
not only in the frame of the book, but as an independent branch of painting.
To understand the great sense of the artistic victory of Abdulmomin Muhammad
in its true quality, it is necessary to get down to the history of the struggle of the art
of miniature at early of Islamic culture.
Azerbaijani book painting, which was introduced in the XIII–XIV centuries and
found its own face – our art of miniature did not yet have much importance in the
history of art, the greatest victory of our miniature was yet to come. In the 16-17th
centuries, Azerbaijani miniature art will challenge not only via its brilliant personalities,
but also in the capacity of school.
The 15th century was a period of the formation of this powerful school that was
accumulating its power.
The highest contribution of the beginning of the century to Azerbaijani and
world art in the broadest sense in Tabriz was the invaluable artist Sultan Muhammad
(1470-1555), the school of miniature relating to his style, taste and accuracy.
However, the path to this peak dates back to the 13th century. Therefore, the
name of Abdulmomin Muhammad al-Khoyi, as well as the miniatures and bibliography
created by him, will always cause pride as the most glorious page in our history.
Although the miniatures of Abdulmomin, which we have known for so many
years, are now available in a separate book, it is not only an opportunity to see and
enjoy our classic miniature pearls, but also to explore the individual characteristics of
each tablet, an opportunity to understand the origins of many impulses for the subsequent
development of the art of miniature in the Middle East.
It was in the 13th century that Azerbaijani artists took leading positions in the art
of miniature, distinguished by a variety of themes, differences in styles and performing
differences, which ensured us constant primacy and leadership in this field of art.
The publication of 71 miniatures painted by Muhammad al-Khoyi for the manuscript
of “Varga and Gulsha" with the corresponding analyzes should be regarded as
a very significant event in our cultural and scientific life.
There are favorite love stories of most of the peoples of the world, and famous
heroes of those love epics. Along with Leyli and Majnun, Farhad and Shirin, Vamig
and Azra of the Near and Middle East ... the love of Varga and Gulsha, which is historically
the most ancient of them, was repeatedly made verses by the word-masters
of the different centuries. After Ayyugi, who was the first to write in written literature
about the fiery love of two young persons – Varga and Gulsha, many proverbs
on the same topic appeared in Persian literature, and anfterwards Uzbek, Turkmen,
Afghan and Ottoman poets also tried their hand at this topic. Following Yusif Maddah,
who in 1368 gave birth to one of the finest examples of "Varga and Gulsha" in
Turkic literature, in 1629 another poet, Ruknaddin Masud Masikhi (1579–1656), in
his mother tongue gave new life to this love story in his homeland.