TEHRAN – Iranian painter Hossein Behzad’s inimitable style in creating miniatures has been added to the list of national intangible cultural heritage.
The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts recently declared the listing to the governors-general of all provinces in the country, CHTN reported on Tuesday.
Behzad’s early works (1894-1968) were in the styles of the old masters of Persian painting of the 16th and 17th centuries, hoping to rescue Persian miniature paintings from oblivion.
He first practiced a conservative form of neo-Safavidism and later developed a new idiom that fused revivalism and modernism. In 1956, fifty of his miniatures were exhibited at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Additionally, he has curated exhibitions around the world, including London, Prague, New York, Boston, and Brussels, as well as India and Japan.
In honor of the artist, the Behzad Museum was founded in 1994 in the Sa’dabad complex in Tehran.
An art of exceptionally intricate style, intricate detail and intricate narrative, Persian miniatures do not elicit an immediate response from anyone whose eyes are accustomed to quick visual comprehension. The two-dimensional work of art involves the design and creation of small paintings on books, papier-mache, carpets, textiles, walls, ceramics and other objects using raw materials such as l gold, silver and various organic substances.
Experts believe that miniature is an art that can represent the whole of nature in a small frame and basically refers to any delicate artistic phenomenon, regardless of how it was created. As mentioned by Visit Iran, the word miniature literally means a small and delicate nature, although the word itself entered the Persian language in the middle of the recent century, and almost since the Qajar period (1789-1925), it is an art that has existed for a long time and is of ancient history in Iran.
The Persian miniature has its roots in the distant past before the advent of Islam. Indeed, the Persian miniature, once inspired by Chinese painting methods and equated with a singular perspective of Iranian art, paved the way for the emergence of divine effects in Iranian painting before the advent of Islam. ; and, subsequently, eventually merged with theosophy and Islamic thoughts.
Decorated tiles, some of which still exist, suggest that years before the Mongol invasion of Iran between 1219 and 1221, the same styles and methods of painting and drawing, which were later adopted as styles of book paintings, were used in Iran.
Another popular belief, according to Visit Iran, suggests that the miniature originated in Iran and later spread to China; and in the Mongol era it returned to Iran in a fairly developed form.
At the beginning of the Islamic era, Iranian artists made an extraordinary effort to complete and develop this art, creating special schools of painting such as the schools of Shiraz, Harat, Tabriz, Qazvin and Isfahan, and combining it with Arabic script or handwriting.
Efforts to gild the edges and frontispiece of the Holy Quran, arabesques and Khitan motifs are all valuable works of miniature that originated from a combination of miniature and Arabic script, in the 3rd century A.H. , that is, when the Iranians managed to enter the Abbasid court.
A large part of these works were destroyed during the Mongol invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries of the Hegira. Additionally, during the Ilkhanid period, when the country returned to a relatively calm situation, other prominent works of art such as Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh emerged.
Later, due to the constant intelligence and freedom of action that craftsmen had after the Baghdad school, the Iranian miniature works of the Herat school developed to some extent, and eventually the Persian painting and miniature art, after the Herat period, was transferred to the Safavid era. At that time, after the choice of Tabriz as the capital, Kamal ud-Din Behzad was invited to Tabriz and was appointed as the head of the royal library and, together with great craftsmen, endeavored to develop it and to make it evolve.
The Tabriz school of miniature persisted until Qazvin became the new capital. With regard to this school, it may be noted that the miniatures of this period were all of a similar type, and in terms of elegance, pen strokes, color and design, they followed the school of Herat and differed only slightly.
The Isfahan school of miniature was created when Isfahan became the capital, and during this period the style and methods of work changed dramatically, examples of which can be seen in the decorative designs of the stately buildings of 17th century Isfahan.