A survey of the figural arts of the Iranian world from prehistoric times to the early-20th century, considering themes rather than styles. Primarily analyzing painting - in manuscripts and albums, on walls and on lacquered, painted pen boxes and caskets - but also the related arts of sculpture, ceramics and metalwork, the author finds that the underlying themes depicted on them through the ages are remarkably consistent. Eleanor Sims demonstrates that all these arts display similar concerns: kingship and legitimacy; the righteous exercise of princely power and the defence of national territory; and the performance of rituals and the religious duties called for by the paramount cult of the day. She describes a variety of superb works of art inside and outside these categories, noting not only how they illustrate archetypal themes but also what it is about them that is unique. She also discusses the ways that Iranian art both influenced and was influenced by invaders and neighbouring lands. Boris Marshak discusses pre-Islamic and also Central Asian art, in particular the earliest Iranian wall paintings and their pictorial parallels in rock carvings and metalwork, and the richly painted temples and houses of Panjikent. Ernst Grube considers religious imagery, and provides an informative bibliography.