Picks and Pans Review: Mirror of the Orient
by Roland and Sabrina Michaud
One reproduction in this art book is of a 17th-century Persian miniature in which a turbaned gentleman strokes a falcon. On the opposite page is a photograph of a falconer taken recently in Afghan Turkistan. It is remarkably like the 400-year-old painting. A nursing mother wrapped in patterned silks is the subject both of a 15th-century Turkish miniature and a 1971 photograph of a woman feeding her baby in the Afghan Pamirs. This volume is made up of such combinations—ancient art works displayed along with photographs that are remarkably similar in subject matter, color, detail and composition. The photographs were taken over a period of 15 years in Afghanistan and other Oriental countries. The authors meanwhile were seeking out ancient works of art to match. There is a loving introduction by Najm ud-Din Bammat, an Islamic poet who writes in French. It would have been far more interesting if the book included an account of how all the research was done to produce these intriguing twinnings. Nonetheless, the message conveyed wordlessly—and beautifully—is that life in the Orient is timeless. (New York Graphic Society/Little, Brown, $39.95; paper, $16.95)
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