One of the main branches of Persian handicrafts which is in fact defined as a fine art, as well, is illuminated manuscript. The term “fine art” refers to those groups of arts which are more artistic than industrial. The illuminated manuscript is a kind of painting and drawing with gold color of arabesque and Khatai motives either on the papers of a manuscript or miniature painting folios. In other words, illuminated manuscript is defined as decorating the blank spaces between lines and paintings using the gold color and some other natural, herbal or mineral, colors like ochre, cobalt blue or azure, through drawing some flowers or geometric motives. Due to the high position of the book-building art for Iranians, adding value to the final product, other related arts have also been subsequently important, like the calligraphy, illustration, gilding and cover-building. In most cases, the decoration of the book got a second place after the text, therefore, the illuminated manuscript artists were invited to adorn the book. Undoubtedly, this worthwhile and expensive process has been applied to some certain books.
Illuminated manuscript was done using a brush and some herbal, mineral colors and gold layers. However, the work is sometimes carried out with some ready-to-use colors these days. Illuminated manuscript means gilding with the driven motives from the nature, but in a completely abstract, regular and geometric way. It is adorned using either the black lines or gold water. Sometimes, other kinds of colors like Cinnabar, white lead, and saffron are also used for the illuminated manuscript. during the early Islamic period, illuminated manuscript was broadly used for adorning and separating the Quranic verses.
In the third and fourth century Hijri, it was popular in a simple, plain way using some simple geometric motives. The illuminated manuscript craft became then steady and coherent, during the sixth and seventh centuries, glorious and splendid in eighth century, and subtle and delightful in ninth and tenth centuries, and finally it greatly flourished in various schools, from eleventh to twelfth centuries. Among the contemporary illuminated manuscript artists, we can mention to the late Mohammad Ibrahim Nemat Allahi, of whom the great artworks have been left on the wooden door of the Kamal ol-Molk Painting School of Art, Ali Doroudi, Mohammad Ali Zavieh, Abdollah Baqeri and Mahmoud Farshchian. This art is now popular in most cities of Markazi Province and it is specially flowering in Arak.