Persian art What is it? Culture, Definition and Characteristics

Within the great extension that the Muslim territories have, at different times it was observed that in these territories various types of art emerged, among which we can highlight Muslim art and Islamic art. However, one of the most outstanding styles of art was Persian Art.

Definition of Persian Art

Persian art is an artistic movement that emerged in an area called “Greater Iran”. This area currently corresponds to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Baluchistan, Iran, Azerbaijan and various areas of Pakistan. Persian art appeared in various rich areas and therefore different and varied disciplines such as textiles, calligraphy, masonry, painting, metallurgy, sculpture, architecture and ceramics were included.

Although previous civilizations are known, the first archaeological finds of artistic importance in Persian Art are the magnificent ceramics from Susa and Persepolis (c.3500 BC). In tall glasses and large bowls, they are symmetrical designs that cover the surfaces with stylized abstractions of animals, especially waterbirds and ibexes. The choice of themes of nature, simplified into almost unrecognizable patterns, can be called the formative principle of Persian Art. Much of the Iranian art of the fourth millennium is heavily influenced by Mesopotamia. Similarly, the art of the third Millennium of Elam, in Sialk and Susa, also follows Mesopotamian styles, and this trend is continued in the lesser-known art of Elam and Urartu of the second Millennium.

Keywords : persian sculpture

Persian sculpture

During the Achaemenian and Sassanid periods, metalworking continued its ornamental development. Some of the most beautiful examples of metal objects are the gilded silver cups and plates decorated with scenes of royal hunting from the Sassanid dynasty. The painted vase (5000-4000 BC) constitutes the highest point in the development of prehistoric Iranian pottery that was produced around the fourth millennium BC. Several examples have survived, such as the painted glass of Susa c. 5000-4000 BC which is on display today in the Louvre Museum, Paris. The patterns on this glass are very stylized. 

Pasargadae covered an area nearly 1.5 miles in length, including palaces, a temple, and the tomb of the King of Kings. They had been flanked by huge winged bulls that no longer survive at the entrance. But there is still a stone relief on one of the doors. It is adorned with a bas-relief representing a four-winged guardian spirit in a long Elamite-type garment, the head of which is crowned by a complicated headdress of Egyptian origin. In the early 19th century an inscription on the figure could still be seen and deciphered. The central hall in one of the palaces had bas-reliefs showing the king followed by a pastoral bearer. Here for the first time in an Iranian sculpture, they appear dressed in folds, in contrast to the fallen down tunic of the winged guardian spirit,

The earliest known Persian Art was the Sassanids carved out of the rock at Firuzabad, attributed to the Kingdom of Ardashir I and still tied to the conventions of Partian art. The relief itself is very low, the details are represented by means of fine incisions, and the shapes are heavy and massive, but not without a certain vigor. A relief carved into a rock wall in the Tang-i-Ab gorge near the Firuzabad plain, consists of three separate duels scenes, which clearly express the Iranian concept of battle as a series of individual battles.

Persian painting

Persian painting reached its glory in the Tamerlán period when diverse and important masters such as Kamaleddin Behzad originated an innovative class of painting. Within the Persian painting you can see different works such as that of the Kayar dynasty which is a mixture of influences from European countries or also the figures of the Safavid Empire. Shortly afterwards several teachers, such as Kamal-ol-molk, were the ones who propelled various European influences on Persian art.

Within this style of art, the most prominent themes were religious themes as there are various works showing small parts of Shia epics and the like.

Persian pottery

From the various investigations and archaeological studies that have been carried out on the history of the ruins of Iran. In the vast majority of these ruins you can see that they were filled, at some point in history, with a clay that had a high quality. In addition, various original vessels could be found.

Persian music

In the course of the history that has been documented on this style of art, it was found that there was music that was very original and unique and that was accompanied by various musical instruments (many of these instruments were a main prototype for a lots of modern instruments).

Persian literature

When talking about Persian literature we must emphasize that it was a very important discipline that perfectly reflected the character of the Persians. Within the prose you can find several very interesting works, but nevertheless, within the literature what stood out the most was poetry. Furthermore, Persian literature was a great influence for the literature of Turkey and the literature of Indian art.

Persian architecture

Persian architecture has a long history since it appeared in 5000 BC until today. One of the most outstanding examples of this architecture can be seen in various places in Iraq and Turkey. Within the Persian architecture you could see different buildings, from peasant houses to garden and tea houses. For this reason, this architecture shows great diversity, both aesthetically and structurally.

Persian calligraphy

In illustrations, mainly in works of art such as the Koran Shahnameh, Divan Hafez, Bostan, among others, they are recognized as works of art of great value for the delicate calligraphy they possess. Several of these works are kept and stored in private collections and museums, such as the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

In Persian calligraphy you can see different styles used among them: Nasta liq, Mohaqqaq, Shekasteh and Naskh.


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