Abstract: The article is devoted to the aspects of using oriental miniature as a primary source. Drawing on a number of concrete samples of Persian and Indian miniature art, the authors reveal the dependence of the painting informational validity on the understanding of its authenticity and the place, time and circumstances of its creation. The only way to get the relevant data is the usage of different approaches to the study of miniatures illustrating epic and mythological stories, court chronicles, fairy tales or historical events as well as paying attention to the aims of miniature making: either for an only aristocratic patron or for the market sale. The authors point to the dependence of choice of stories for illustration and ways they are represented in the manuscripts on the political and cultural tendencies and tastes of a given time. The difference between the detailed representation of a story and the realism of the acquired image is also stressed. Simultaneously the authors analyze such features of oriental miniature as existence of stereotype patterns and stylistic models, long lasting designs and canonical images, which make correspondence of depicted details and objects with the given period difficult. In addition to the usage of accepted stereotype designs painters often rendered objects in a way permitting to achieve almost exclusively artistic goals.
When drawing on oriental miniature as a primary source it is necessary to take into consideration the methods of information transferring which all the while determined the content and hence the loading of miniatures with images that are estimated as the basis for the study of the material world. At first an artist makes up only a sense of an object (it is the first step of misrepresentation) which he then just transmits to the paper (the second step of misrepresentation). Later the image, which was presented on the paper and so acquired the newly made visual form is comprehended by a viewer (the third step of misrepresentation) and then corresponded in his imagination with familiar objects of the reality he lives in. That is to say it is the given time that provides tools for grasping, understanding and deciphering the code which was used for creation of images as they are connected with the reality just indirectly: for the first time via the artist imagination and for the second time while comprehending by a looker. Consequently it is not correct to state the images and signs on oriental miniatures are a priori understandable for a modern viewer living in different historical and cultural environment and don’t presume decoding.
In such a way it is necessary to perceive the images of the oriental miniature painting not as accurate representations of the past days but in terms of their epoch style life, their author’s thoughts and their contemporaries’ attitude and cosmos.
Keywords: primary source, weaponology, oriental miniature, Persian miniature, Indian miniature.