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persian painting
October 31, 2006 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Masterpieces of Persian Painting "The atrocity of raging wars, the fainting of Leili (the beloved) and Majnoun (the lover) and the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) ascension to the celestial sphere while floating in light—all reflect the reality and image of the pure heart of the artists who viewed the world, its Creator and creatures with love." [via]
posted by dhruva (22 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been to that museum... It's part of a huge complex of museums that are located where the Pahlavi Dynasty's palace used to be in the Darband district of Tehran. Iran does a horrendous, I mean absolutely sickening job of protecting its historical assets. Anything that is remotely suggestive of monarchy has been destroyed, including centuries-old murals on the walls of ruins (scraped off with big X's) in Isfahan. The faces and bodies of uncovered women have also been defaced. These miniatures are a rare and beautiful sight

Before someone asks, no, Iranian artists don't typically keep the Islamic tradition of not drawing the human figure. It has to do with the fact that they are much further away from the scene than the rest of the Islamic world, and also the moderating influence of Hindu and Buddhist art coming in from the east.

See also my very first post to MetaFilter, about Persian calligraphy.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:54 PM on October 31, 2006


funny that you preemptied the question about depicting human figures in Iranian art , BuddahInABucket, i was just about to ask.

:)
posted by nola at 6:13 PM on October 31, 2006


Wait, I thought images of Mohammed were verboten?
posted by gottabefunky at 6:15 PM on October 31, 2006


Look closely, gottabefunky- there are no facial features drawn on the face of the prophet. Just his body.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:02 PM on October 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite Iranian book paintings is The Court of Gayumarth. This appears to be the best image of it on the internet.

Thanks for the post dhruva.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:24 PM on October 31, 2006


gottabefunky: "Wait, I thought images of Mohammed were verboten?"

BuddhaInABucket is right-- and besides, the Fars were never so fond of that Arab rule against images of humans.

This post is awesome. Thanks, dhruva.
posted by koeselitz at 8:31 PM on October 31, 2006


Ancient Persian art seems to emphasize bright colors (moreso than say, ancient European or Asian art). Is there any reason for this?
posted by gsteff at 8:50 PM on October 31, 2006


If it isn't obvious, I know diddly-squat about painting
posted by gsteff at 8:58 PM on October 31, 2006


I don't know that I'd call stuff from the past 500 years or so ancient.

I'd say while stylistically different Persian painting isn't too unreasonable in it's utilization of colors in comparison to European (and other) works from the same time period.

Look these, for example.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:20 PM on October 31, 2006


gsteff- (how did I become the Persian art specialist? All I did was write one lousy paper on it in college)- the bright colors aren't universal, it's probably just an aspect of the particular artist who made those pieces in the exhibit. I'm looking at the miniatures on my wall right across from me, and the colors are subtle and muted. I think what you're really noticing isn't the brightness of the colors, but rather the clarity of the lines. If there was more shading and blending a la western art (Salvador Dali as the exception that proves this rule), you wouldn't notice the starkness of the contrast.

On the other hand, I could also argue that in Islamic art in general, the use of color in combination with calligraphy is used because of the constraints against representation. But that doesn't apply to Persian miniatures.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:26 PM on October 31, 2006


Many of the best Persian Minatures are sitting in the Smithsonian's Freer / Sacker gallaries' collections (not necessarily even on display). Perhaps we should we could offer art for peace.
posted by humanfont at 9:58 PM on October 31, 2006


Before someone asks, no, Iranian artists don't typically keep the Islamic tradition of not drawing the human figure. It has to do with the fact that they are much further away from the scene than the rest of the Islamic world, and also the moderating influence of Hindu and Buddhist art coming in from the east.

BuddhaInABucket is right-- and besides, the Fars were never so fond of that Arab rule against images of humans.

Even the Arabs have not always been particularly strict on this "rule" at times. If you want to live a long and fruitful life, I would not suggest you tell an Iranian that they were influenced by the East. They tend to see it the other way around.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:09 PM on October 31, 2006


humanfont: Giving art to the Iranian government is tantamount to throwing it in the trash. Nice idea, horrible in practice.

Pollomacho- I'm Iranian, and just because they tend to see it the other way around doesn't make it true. There's cultural exchange in all directions, and the silk road, with art from both east and west, made its way straight through Iran for hundreds of years.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:15 PM on October 31, 2006


Oh, I agree with you, I still wouldn't tell my dad that without expecting a 4 hour treatise on how the Persians invented everything.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:30 PM on October 31, 2006


BuddhaInABucket - funny, I have no recollection of that kind of vandalism in Iran. It's familiar enough from India (eg Aurangzeb's rampages against Hindu iconography), and Egypt (Christians, I think, defacing the ancient reliefs in the temples), but not Iran.

From memory, Persepolis has been pretty well preserved, and that contains plenty of images of monarchy. Esfahan...? Um, maybe the Jame Masjid...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:33 PM on October 31, 2006


Giving art to the Iranian government is tantamount to throwing it in the trash.

Ah, so maybe this outrage had a silver lining, then?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:43 PM on October 31, 2006


Pollomacho- I laughed because it's so true.

UboRoivas: I haven't been to Persepolis, but it's a UNESCO world heritage center which means that there's an outside source taking care of it. A lot of the more minor historical stuff is not so lucky.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:45 PM on October 31, 2006


4 hour treatise on how the Persians invented everything

Haha, I have sat through many of those from friends' fathers. Greeks and Persians, for all their antipathy and wars through the years, have that in common :)
posted by cell divide at 10:48 PM on October 31, 2006


UbuRoivas- I hadn't heard of that, and wow, it makes me speechless.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:51 PM on October 31, 2006


Wait, I thought images of Mohammed were verboten?
posted by gottabefunky at 8:15 PM CST on October 31


Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. -Exodus 10.

All you camera owners is gwine ta hell.

I remember seeing a report years ago on CBS about the Taliban destroying "unIslamic" art. I remember yelling at the screen words to the effect that representative art wasn't just 'unIslamic', but 'unChristian'.

That doesn't seem to keep christians from their teevees, spawn of satan tho it is.
posted by landis at 12:59 AM on November 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Which also explains why loss of the img tag is a blessing is disguise. Matt's jus' gettin' right wi' da man.
posted by landis at 1:05 AM on November 1, 2006


Nice post, thanks.
posted by languagehat at 5:38 AM on November 1, 2006


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