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TO AUGUST 27

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Some centuries from now, connoisseurs may visit a museum to see pages detached from copies of The Amazing X-Men. The exhibit’s scholarly notes might explain that these are illustrations from a larger work, typical of the style of the time, telling a story that cannot be reconstructed. If most copies of ’90s Marvel comics had been destroyed in the interim, the remaining pieces might seem as distinctive as do the illustrations and illuminated manuscripts in this small show. Produced in the Persian city of Shiraz during the 14th to 16th centuries, these meticulous and vividly colorful paintings were in their time everyday stuff, conservative in style and execution and telling familiar stories of triumphant rulers (including Solomon, whose court tradition locates in Shiraz) and the rise of Islam. Some of the illustrations were cut long ago from “unknown manuscripts,” but if the stories they once told are lost, one remains: the exceptional craftsmanship of the pre-Gutenberg world. At the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-3200. (Mark Jenkins)