Islamic Illumination Course (a Safavid illuminated border) - Zoom Online
Illumination Course (a Safavid illuminated border) – Short Zoom Course

Islamic Illumination Course (a Safavid illuminated border) - Zoom Online

When: Sun 14 Mar 2021 16:00 - Sun 02 May 2021 18:00
Where: Online - Zoom

Islamic Illumination Course:


A Safavid Illuminated Border



by Anahita Alavi


Date: Sunday, 14 March till 2 May 2021 (8 sessions)

Time: 16:00-18:00  (UK Time)


Type of Event: Zoom Online Course

Course Fee: £210 for SOAS Students 

£250 for non-SOASians




Among various compositions of Islamic illumination, this practice-based course focuses on one of the most significant masterpieces of the Safavid style (a 16th-century illuminated Quran) as a basis to teach Islamic Illumination techniques and skills. The course aims to instruct how simply to analyse, draw and paint this beautiful border from the Ruzbihan Quran. Participants will practice various steps of making an illumination work; from preparing the paper towards a completed work. Students will take lessons such as:



1.      Drawing individual motifs in the given border including:

           -  Khataei motifs (flowers and leaves)

           -   Islimi motifs (the motifs located in the internal lobed frames)

2. Preparing the paper; dying, sizing and burnishing procedures

3. How to calculate and construct the border structure

4. Tracing the patterns on our prepared papers

5. Gilding, mixing and applying colors

6. How to draw and add the needle-like motifs

7. Delicate outlining and shading the motifs

8. How to elaborate the narrow decorative borders (including the weaving pattern) and complete the work




While working on this particular piece, you will become familiar with the principals of composition to combine the two main motifs  mentioned (Khataei and Islimi). The course addresses half of this work, however, by completing 1/2 of the border, students will be acquiring the required skill and knowledge to complete and paint the entire border by themselves. The course runs in 8 weeks with each session lasting 120 minutes. The classes will be held in a group format; however, students are welcome to send their practices to our tutor and receive instructions and corrections individually. Furthermore, participants will have access to the recordings of the lessons, therefore, in case they miss some sessions, they will be able  to catch up.

No background in arts is necessary; so beginners are welcome too. 




The registration deadline is 12 March 2021. For registration and more information about the course please email us on


Anahita Alavi has an MA in History of Art and Architecture of Islamic Middle East from SOAS University of London. An Iranian artist, she has learned Persian miniature painting and Islamic illumination under the supervision of a number of great masters in Iran. Her keen interest in the aforementioned areas led her to choose traditional art as her BA major. Aiming to enhance her theoretical-historical knowledge about Iranian culture and arts, Anahita also did an MA in Art Studies at the University of Tehran. She used to teach Persian painting and Islamic illumination at the Payame-Nur University of Tehran and a number of schools and institutes in Iran. In 2016, she started an entrepreneur project called Muqarnas Art sponsored by SOAS.

The project is concerned with teaching and producing Persian miniature and illumination. This aims to preserve the tradition of Miniature painting and Islamic illumination and transmit the respective knowledge and skills to enthusiastic students. To this end, Anahita has been teaching Persian miniature painting and Islamic Illumination courses at the SOAS London Middle East Institute and British Institute for Persian Studies.

This webpage was last updated on: 09 Oct 2020 12:40