The miniatures are real pictures with a decorative frame formed of zigzags, curves, rainbows, etc.The Gospel canons are set in arcades ornamented with flowers and birds.The papyrus containing the poems of Timotheus (fourth century B. In the Goleniscev collection there are sixteen leaves of a universal Coptic chronicle on papyrus, dated 392 and decorated with miniatures in a very barbarous style, intended as illustrations of the text.C.) found at Abousir, has a long-legged bird in the body of the text as a mark of division. In the margin are seen successively the months (women crowned with flowers), the provinces of Asia (fortified gateways), the prophets, the kings of Rome, Lydia, Macedonia, Roman emperors, and perhaps the Patriarch Tehophilus presiding at the destruction of the Serapeum.Besides fantastic scenes ("Apocalypse of Mohomet", Paris, Bib. Turk., 190) are found contemporary reproductions of scenes from real life which take us into the streets of Bagdad in the thirteenth century or permit us to follow an army or a caravan on the march ("Maqâmât" of Hariri, Bib. The history of Byzantine miniatures is yet to be written; it is impossible at present to determine its origin or to study its development.
Syria and Mesopotamia The existence of Persian manuscripts on parchment very rich in miniatures, is proved by allusions of St. The masterpiece of this school is the Syriac Evangeliary written in 586 at the Monastery of Zagba (Mesopotamia) by the monk Rabula (since the fifteenth century in the Laurentian Library, Florence).Matthew discovered at Sinope (since 1900 in the Bib. In these three manuscripts the painting has an anecdotic character ; it is intended to illustrate the text, and sometimes two periods of a scene are represented in a picture.Both the evangelaries show a bearded face of Christ, majestic and severe, which already suggests the "Pantocrator" of church cupolas.And whereas most of the paintings of the Middle Ages have perished, these little works form an almost uninterrupted series which afford us a clear idea of the chief schools of painting of each epoch and each region.Finally, in the history of art the rôle of illuminated manuscripts was considerable; by treating in their works scenes of sacred history the manuscript painters inspired other artists, painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, ivory workers, etc.; it is especially in miniature that the ebb and flow of artistic styles during the Middle Ages may be detected.