Islamic miniature painting is generally understood to mean small paintings that are or once were part of a manuscript, used as a frontispiece or an illustration for a text. Drawings and individual paintings have, however, also been preserved. They were either sketches or were intended to be placed as independent works of art in an album.
The miniatures usually had a paper base, but cardboard and in rare cases cotton or silk cloth were also used. The brilliant colors are usually opaque.
The oldest preserved miniature paintings were made in around the year 1000, but not until around 1200 were they found in larger numbers. Islamic miniature painting is often categorized rather summarily into four regional schools: the Arab, the Persian, the Indian, and the Ottoman Turkish.