For Kids: Kaleidoscope of Color

What is it made of? Ink, color, and gold on paper

When was it made? 1598

Where was it made? Iran

Even more information


Take a moment to look closely at this beautiful page’s complex designs. What shapes do you see? Name as many as you can.

Now, look at the border and find a shape that resembles a star with eight points. If you were to cut the shape in two, each half would look exactly like the other. This is called “symmetry.” There are many examples of symmetry in nature. Next time you take a walk outside, count how many examples of symmetry you find.

More than four hundred years ago, a calligrapher named Khan Ahmad Sayri copied this Qur’an. We know very little about him besides that he lived and worked in Shiraz, a city in southern Iran. Sayri probably worked in a workshop with many other calligraphers, all specialists in beautiful writing. His manuscripts were popular in neighboring Turkey, and powerful and wealthy people in both Iran and Turkey collected them.


Admire all of the subtle varieties of color on this page. The detailed pattern has three different shades of gold, ranging from a dull, greenish one to a brilliant yellow one. Other colors—deep and light blues and reds—animate the page as well. How many colors can you find?


Find shapes in this page that the artist repeated to create complicated patterns. Cut your own interesting shape from cardboard. On a piece of paper, place the cardboard in lots of different positions, tracing around it each time to make a kaleidoscope-like design. Fill in your design using similar shades of color.

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