My Name is Red

My Name is Red

Blindness Symbol Analysis

Blindness Symbol Icon

According to miniaturist folklore, the greatest master miniaturists will go blind in old age as a “reward” from Allah for a lifetime of devotion to their art. Though blindness might seem like a strange reward, considering that miniaturists’ lives revolve around their visual art, the celebration of blindness comes from the notion that blindness brings a person away from human sight and closer to divine sight. This also highlights what makes miniaturist painting distinct from other artistic traditions. As the miniaturists often point out, the goal of miniaturists is not to depict the world as the human eye sees it, but rather to illustrate the imagined vision of Allah. Master Osman—who ultimately chooses to blind himself—notes that the best miniaturists work as if they are blind to the world around them. At the same time, other characters maintain a more ambivalent relationship to blindness. Black is particularly determined not to go blind, for example, because he wants to spend the rest of his life looking at Shekure. The resistance of some characters to blindness indicates an attachment to the pleasures of the mortal world, which contrasts to complete surrender to the world of Allah (the afterlife) to which Muslims are encouraged to aspire. In this sense, blindness is another way in which the tensions between traditional Muslim life and the Europeanization of Istanbul are explored.

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Blindness Symbol Timeline in My Name is Red

The timeline below shows where the symbol Blindness appears in My Name is Red. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: I Am Called Black
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
...that there are more wealthy people, as well as a handful of beggars, including a blind man who smiles at the falling snow. Black learns that Shekure’s mother has died, and... (full context)
Chapter 4: I Will Be Called a Murderer
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
...to draw a horse as Allah would see it, and that the illuminator would go blind in the process. (full context)
Chapter 11: I Am Called Black
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
Black can see in Master Osman’s half-blind eyes that he hates Enishte and is suspicious of Black. Osman asks what the illuminators... (full context)
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
...a plate depicting Shirin and Hüsrev. Black meets a 92-year-old former master who is half blind and who describes meeting the famous Master Bizhad, who was drunk and blind himself at... (full context)
Chapter 12: I Am Called “Butterfly”
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...with another woman. As a result, the Tatar woman hanged herself, and the horrified Khan blinded the miniaturist in punishment. (full context)
Chapter 13: I Am Called “Stork”
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...about Tall Mehmet, a master illustrator who worked until the age of 110 before going blind. Mehmet was famous for being absolutely faithful to the old masters and having no distinct... (full context)
Chapter 14: I Am Called “Olive”
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
...Ali to be killed. However, a kind woman in his harem persuaded him to only blind Sheikh Ali instead. Sheikh Ali heard rumors about this plan, but still did not deliberately... (full context)
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
...putting them back in the right order, but it was soon revealed that he was blind. He asked for an intelligent boy younger than seven who hadn’t yet learned to read... (full context)
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
...years ago, when many miniaturists would stare at the horizon in order to ward off blindness, while others believed that the sun caused blindness and thus would work in a dark... (full context)
Chapter 25: I Am Esther
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
...other rumors about the book, including that glancing at one of its pages will cause blindness. Later, when Esther delivers the letter to Black, he is almost hysterical with happiness. He... (full context)
Chapter 31: I Am Red
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
...beetles and turned the pigment into paint while drinking coffee. It recalls once hearing two blind masters discussing how they would explain the color red to someone who had never seen... (full context)
Chapter 41: It is I, Master Osman
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and Greed Theme Icon
...how the story ends, and Osman decides not to tell him that the miniaturist was blinded; instead, he says that the miniaturist married the shah’s daughter. Osman repeats that it is... (full context)
Chapter 42: I Am Called Black
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
...is in the middle of doing an eye exercise that is supposed to help prevent blindness when he notices that the new piece of paper is a letter from Shekure accompanied... (full context)
Chapter 46: I Will Be Called a Murderer
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...apprentice and dictated how to draw the horses that appeared to him in his divine blindness. These notes were published as three volumes that have now been used to instruct countless... (full context)
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Sin Theme Icon
...story. In Herat and Shiraz, it was considered an honor for master miniaturists to go blind in old age, such that some who didn’t go blind would actually try to induce... (full context)
Chapter 51: It is I, Master Osman
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...so many glorious manuscripts. Osman knows that, as a true master, he will eventually go blind, but he is glad that this has not happened yet. Pointing out a vivid red... (full context)
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...miniaturists, who spend their lives laboring over art only to eventually disappear into “anonymity and blindness.” Looking at a painting, he recalls a time earlier in his life when he felt... (full context)
Chapter 52: I Am Called Black
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...adds that when the great masters of history were forced to adopt new styles, they blinded themselves in order to avoid this indignity. Black confesses that he wishes to spend eternity... (full context)
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...leave by the Sultan and Head Treasurer; however, Black realizes that Osman is now going blind. He asks Osman who the murderer is, but Osman replies that whoever painted the nostrils... (full context)
Chapter 53: I Am Esther
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
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...inside and killing an old man. Black and his men surround Hasan’s house, but a blind beggar tells them that Hasan is not home. Black asks Esther to give Shekure a... (full context)
Chapter 57: I Am Called “Olive”
Storytelling, Identity, and Perspective Theme Icon
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...to decide what to say when they are put under torture. Stork asks: “Could the blind and seeing ever be equal?” and the men each respond with a different view. Olive... (full context)
Chapter 58: I Will Be Called a Murderer
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...the needle and explains that 80 years ago the great master Bihzad used it to blind himself. He adds that the previous night, Master Osman used it to blind himself in... (full context)
Creation vs. Representation Theme Icon
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...his neck. Black tells the murderer that his blood may clot, causing him to go blind, or it may not; this will depend on whether Allah is pleased with his work... (full context)
Chapter 59: I, Shekure
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...Hasan flees and is never heard from again. Master Osman dies two years after going blind, and Stork becomes Head Illuminator. Butterfly spends the rest of his life drawing ornamental designs... (full context)