TEHRAN — Mahin Afshanpur, a prized Iranian miniaturist who was honored as a living human treasure, died of complications from old age at her home in Tehran on Monday. She was 81 years old.
She was one of the five eminent miniaturists that Iran presented as its living human treasures after the art of miniature painting was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020 .
Ashanpur became interested in painting from childhood as she took advantage of every moment to make chalk and charcoal drawings on the walls and floor of the courtyard of the family home.
Like many of her contemporaries, she married very early, when she was only 16, but marriage did not stop her from pursuing her dreams in art.
She soon learned that she should improve her art skills through college studies. To this end, she applied for and was granted admission to the Kamalolmolk School of Art, where she received instruction from several master miniaturists.
She was heavily influenced by Abbas Jalali Susanabadi, famous for his innovative approach to miniature, known as Persian painting in Iran.
Inspired by many Persian classical poets such as Ghazali, Rumi, Khayyam, Attar and Hafez, she has created a massive collection containing over 400 works which are housed in private collections and several museums.
In an interview published by the Tehran Times in 1999, Afshanpour said that miniature paintings are also produced in China and India, and noted that the best miniature paintings were created by Iranian artists.
“I often work from night to morning,” Afshanpur said, adding, “At dawn, when I hear the call to prayer, I feel that I am close to God. The peace I feel at this time cannot be explained in words.
“Sheik Sanan and the Christian Girl” by Afshanpour is one of the works registered in a dossier sent by Iran to UNESCO for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
She produced the artwork based on the story of Sheikh Sanan from “The Bird Conference” by Persian poet Attar Neyshaburi.
His paintings have been presented in individual and collective exhibitions in Iran and in several countries, including Lebanon.
Photo: Master miniaturist Mahin Afshanpur is seen creating a painting in an undated photo.