Ancient Persian/Iranian Art

Ancient Persian/Iranian Art

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A superb collection of Persian-Iranian Art from a brief visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA. Including some Sumerian pieces.

Epic Iran

★★★★★ Explores five jaw-dropping millennia of cultural history.

On now until Sunday, 12 September 2021

Gallery 39 and the North Court

Concessions apply.
Members and children under 12 go free. Booking is essential.

Exploring 5,000 years of art, design and culture, Epic Iran shines a light on one of the greatest historic civilisations, its journey into the 21st century and its monumental artistic achievements, which remain unknown to many.

Six milestones to know the history and importance of Persian art and culture.

The URUK Period – Pottery and Ceramic Vessels

The Uruk period dates back around 4000 to 3100 BC, which was based in southern Mesopotamia, also known as ancient Iraq. The settlement was home to various farmers and hunters who established their lives beside rivers. Syria, Turkey,

Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, which were called with different names at that time, saw a major part of the Uruk period. Along with mesmerizing architecture and artistic mosaics, the Uruk period saw a growth in pottery making and proto- writing.

URUK Pottery – Persian Art

An important colony of the Uruk period, Susa had the most influential protowriting skills along with pottery and cylinder seals. The skills and details of the artists are praiseworthy because the tiny errors or asymmetry in the creations show that all were handmade. What makes it incredible is at a time where neither machinery nor technology exists, the magnitude of artistry and talent was superior.

Another interesting factor that played an important role in the Uruk period was keeping the records of goods and workers through pictographs. Although they were intended for management purpose, the pictographs are an example of exquisite artwork.

The Early Iron Age – Artistry on Metals

The Early Iron Age took place around 900 – 600 BC period and this era saw the advent of metal artistry. The most common metal used to carve out intricate and detailed sculptures was bronze. The sculptures made out of bronze were called Luristan Bronzes and they were found in many locations in west- central Iran by archaeologists.

Luristan Bronzes Persian Art

The use of metal at a large scale was sculpted into a number of art pieces including weapons, tools, horse- fittings, vessels, and ornaments. The tools used to carve and hammer the pieces were quite simple but the techniques were innovative. Intricate carvings over the metallic artwork were manual and time-consuming. This era saw the formation of representing animals, most common of them being goats or sheep with large horns in a number of different forms and styles.

The Islamic Golden Age

This era emerged during the 9 th and 10 th centuries. The Sasanian Empire ruled in 651 which came to an end after the “Muslim conquest of Persia”, or the “Arab conquest”. It also led to the decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Iran. After this era came to an end, artists in the region showed exponential growth and potential, which visualized the 9 th century as the golden period. Locations such as Greater Iran and eastern parts saw the increasing importance of the Turkish people and this led to a cultural Turko- Persian tradition.

Iran saw the advent of two important dynasties which were the Samanid dynasty and the Seljuq dynasty, both of which enhanced the importance of Persian art during their time. Pottery, ceramics, metal work and book painting especially rose in demand. During the Samanid dynasty, a Sunni empire ruled over many parts including Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. This era specialized in epigraphic pottery which was an earthenware vessel with lettering involving proverbs and blessings inscribed on it, which was used to serve food. The lettering was in Kufi script with black slip on the white base.

Epigraphic pottery persian art culture

The Seljuq dynasty which ruled during the 10 th century was responsible for bewildering innovations in materials and techniques. Materials such as minai ware used on a white background along with enameled figures, fritware and a silicon-based paste were introduced and hence they replaced clay.

The discipline of metal work and sculpting during Islamic Art period also took to new innovations. Along with the hammering of the metal to create detailed designs, artists during Iranian art period also added precious metal inlays to highlight the art piece. Book paintings also shot to fame from Iran to Iraq which contained animalistic figures to portray fidelity, treachery, and courage. Book paintings also led to the widespread of Persian calligraphy which became one of the most sought after disciplines.

The Mongol under the Leadership of Genghis Khan

This era formed many dynasties throughout the 13 th century due to the division of the Empire among the sons of Genghis Khan. Each and every dynasty contributed towards art and helped it grow which led to the Golden Age of Persian painting. The main disciplines which were widespread at Persian art time were calligraphy, illustration, and paintings which represented the culture of Mongols. However, there were criticisms against the rulers of displaying the Persians as Mongols at that time.

The Safavids – High Point for Literature and Architecture

This era also contributed a lot to the development and spreading of a number of art disciplines such as weaving, miniature paintings, and ceramic artistry. Persian carpets and rugs were in huge demand due to the representation of the tribe’s culture and excellent artisanship. That is when the art of weaving got a boost.

Persian Miniature Paintings

Book illustrations and Persian miniature paintings were practiced thoroughly and they often displayed narration and thinking skills. The artists also used a lot of human figures to narrate their stories. Even though Persian art never sought to completely forbid the human figure, miniature paintings contained them as the central plot due to its privacy. New types of vessels and ceramic objects were practiced such as goblets, long- necked bottle, and plates. The new shape of the vessel which was invented was a flask shaped vessel with a very small neck and flattened body on one side and rounded body on the other.

The Qajar Art

The Qajar dynasty which ruled from 1781 to 1925 had a great impact on the empire’s art, architecture and art forms. Paintings and large murals were an integral part of the Qajar art. The period of relative peace along with the rule of Agha Muhammad Khan and his descendants gave a major burst to the artistic expression. The paintings and murals portrayed historical scenes and revelry, which was specifically created to be put up in palaces and coffee houses. Special arched tops on the paintings were attached to fit them into walls.

Qajar dynasty persian art

The style and portrayal of paintings create an assumption of the Qajar dynasty having its roots attached with the Safavid Empire. The portrayal of inanimate objects and human beings were depicted opposite to their nature. While human beings were decidedly idealized and placed with standardized features, inanimate objects were shown as real objects. This was corrected by the rising discipline of photography in the 19 th century.

Iranian Art – A Charter for Artistry, Awesomeness, and Aliveness

All the disciplines and their sincere follow-ups make Iran a rich and vibrant land with the most interesting tradition and culture. Not only traditional art, but modern Iranian art is also rising and forming a platform for itself, which is equally praiseworthy. Iranian art or Persian art has evolved and changed faces in all disciplines due to a huge number of dynasties. The elegant style of artistic skills, for example, weaving has left a great impact on the world with their finished and teaching skills.

Persian Art is effectively contributing to the world with its oldest and innovative techniques, which is forming a huge demand in today’s world and has also remains as a reference point for its artistry and awesomeness!

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Delivering inspiring and authentic content for the Art, Design and Culture lovers and allowing artists to draw inspiration from no less than the best works of art in the world. View all posts by The Artist Editorial &rarr

The ancient Persian Art

The ancient Persian culture awarded a preponderant importance to the decorative aspect in their art which they used as resource and vehicle of expression with a deep philosophical meaning about life. This decorative aspect shows the daily events of the man in his perennial struggle for survival. Although in other articles we will detail their artistic manifestation is important to begin with general aspects of their history and idiosyncrasy in order to understand better why the produced their art in the way they did it.

The profuse decorative symbolism express their desires and aspirations as well as its particular way of seeing life with security, self-confidence and great inner power. Their art It is an attractive form of express their poetic way to see life, doing that with a refined show of and detail exquisite decoration aimed directly at the heart of the viewer through the emotions that communicates.

They designed these objects using figurative patterns where the images of the original objects in real life as well as the human figure in it are easily recognized. The slow process of finding and establishing an ideal formula for a decoration to express their emotions and concepts about life began since the first artists, the primitive painters of ceramics made the conventions of great clarity and expressive power in which laid the foundations for the type of decorative design so characteristic of the imagination of the Persian’s. They opened the doors to endless possibilities of illustrations, techniques and ways of development their art evolving since them though thousands of years.

Achaemenid dynasty gold and silver work

Persian art has a close relationship with poetry as well as the religious and philosophical thinking. Thousand years of literary developments corroborate that the Persians are about other cultures the most poets and imaginative. This feature of desbordable imagination translate as well to their works of art in all its artistic manifestations.

Persian artisans and artists certainly achieve in their designs to express emotional strength, they are not just limited to represent the purely intrinsic character of the object, because in their hands these works of art come to life, they achieve to represent expressions such as joy or sadness, as well as a wide range of deep and intense sensations in a way comparable to the sensations we feel when we listen to music.

Broughted by the overriding need to show emotional expression, so specific of the culture and tradition of Persian people, the artist explore a wide range of possibilities of expressing the beauty using a lot of resources in which are not ruled out even elements of other people culture.

Persian art slowly mature and developed their own specific canons proving to be so effective that passed the test of time and the borders they influenced.

Fantastic legends, stories of fairy or even the way they delineated the monsters features always had a realistic and convincing air with a dramatic and emotional load where it is perceived that they rejected the dark, confused and irrational aspects.

Persians Miniature painting

The Persians were skilled masters in the development of miniatures which they executed with exquisite detail, but were also able to develop monumental works with astonishing ingenuity and amazing technical fanfare.

This emphasis on the enlightenment does not produce a cold or abstract art because they manage the way of expressing movement in lines, expressiveness and bold colors. They obtain definition of the forms with the use of contrasts between the figure and the background. Although It is true that sometimes seems a little calculated or excessively conscious and fussy in search of consistent, concentration and balance. Those elements at the end, help to achieve expressiveness in their work and the successful communication of feelings rather than detract from the effectiveness of their intention.

The Persian designers were able to achieve balance, even in works with intricate motifs. They proved to have a peculiar ability in reducing images to its simplest terms without losing the expressiveness.

They could achieve in those miniaturized works a perfect communication with the viewer, even with just silhouettes. They knew how to represent facts or abstract ideas without violating the terms of coherent visual appreciation, eliminating the frustration that ambiguity can produce in the viewers.

Persian art tendencies and evolution in their style

In the explorations to find and develop their own identity throughout so long time, in certain moments we can see some compulsion occurs towards either the realism or naturalism. They were also influenced by the art of Rome or Greece. But their style did not satisfy the Persians, it seemed relatively superficial, particular and individual. They favored more towards a universal and timeless presentation.

Although the formulas that they were developed in Persian art were numerous and many of them efficient and rational too often they became standardized models executed with reiteration.

Nevertheless, this culture must be acknowledged as one who occupies a predominant place in terms of the amount of artistic formulas implemented in their art, the achieved supremacy in many ways in which stand out the frescoes, showing universally valid forms of artistic expression that go along with the rest of the Persian works, certainly been a precious heritage for current and future generations.

Please visit the other articles about this interesting culture in which can be appreciate more particular aspects of their art like architecture and other manifestations of their poetic, ingenious and particular art.

Persian Art and Literature

Persian art and Literature or Iranian art has one of the richest art heritages in world history and has been strong in many media including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and sculpture.

At different times, influences from the art of neighbouring civilizations have been very important, and latterly Persian art gave and received major influences as part of the wider styles of Islamic art.

Rock art in Iran is its most ancient surviving art. Iranian architecture is covered at that article. From the Achaemenid Empire of 550 BC–330 BC for most of the time a large Iranian-speaking state has ruled over areas similar to the modern boundaries of Iran, and often much wider areas, sometimes called Greater Iran, where a process of cultural Persianization left enduring results even when rulership separated. The courts of successive dynasties have generally led the style of Persian art, and court-sponsored art has left many of the most impressive survivals.

In ancient times the surviving monuments of Persian art are notable for a tradition concentrating on the human figure (mostly male, and often royal) and animals. Persian art continued to place larger emphasis on figures than Islamic art from other areas, though for religious reasons now generally avoiding large examples, especially in sculpture. The general Islamic style of dense decoration, geometrically laid out, developed in Persia into a supremely elegant and harmonious style combining motifs derived from plants with Chinese motifs such as the cloud-band, and often animals that are represented at a much smaller scale than the plant elements surrounding them. Under the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century this style was used across a wide variety of media, and diffused from the court artists of the shah, most being mainly painters.

Persian literature:
Persian literature, body of writings in New Persian (also called Modern Persian), the form of the Persian language written since the 9th century with a slightly extended form of the Arabic alphabet and with many Arabic loanwords. The literary form of New Persian is known as Farsi in Iran, where it is the country's official language. it is written with a Cyrillic alphabet by Tajiks in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For centuries New Persian has also been a prestigious cultural language in western Central Asia, on the Indian subcontinent, and in Turkey.

Iranian culture is perhaps best known for its literature, which emerged in its current form in the 9th century. The great masters of the Persian language Ferdowsi, Neẓami Ganjavi, Ḥafeẓ Shirazi, Jam, and Moulana (Rumi), continue to inspire Iranian authors in the modern era.

Persian literature was deeply influenced by Western literary and philosophical traditions in the 19th and 20th centuries yet remains a vibrant medium for Iranian culture. Whether in prose or in poetry, it also came to serve as a vehicle of cultural introspection, political dissent, and personal protest for such influential Iranian writers as Sadeq Hedayat, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, and Sadeq-e Chubak and such poets as Sohrab Sepehri, Mehdi Akhavan Saales, Ahmad Shamlu and Forough Farrokhzad.

Persian Traditional Music:
Iranian classical music consists of characteristics developed through the country's classical, medieval, and contemporary eras. Due to the exchange of musical science throughout history, many of Iran's classical melodies and modes are related to those of its neighboring cultures. Iran's classical art music continues to function as a spiritual tool, as it has throughout history, and much less of a recreational activity. It belongs for the most part to the social elite, as opposed to the folkloric and popular music, in which the society as a whole participates. However, the parameters of Iran's classical music have also been incorporated into folk and pop music compositions.

Indigenous Iranian musical instruments used in the traditional music include string instruments such as the chang (harp), qanun, santur, rud (oud, barbat), tar, dotar, setar, tanbur, and kamanche, wind instruments such as the sorna (zurna, karna), ney, and neyanban, and percussion instruments such as the tompak, kus, daf (dayere), naqare, and dohol.[citation needed] Some instruments, such as the sorna, neyanban, dohol, and naqare, are usually not used in the classical repertoire, but are used in the folk music. Up until the middle of the Safavid Empire, the chang was an important part of Iranian music. It was then replaced by the qanun (zither), and later by the western piano.

The tar functions as the primary string instrument in a performance. The setar is especially common among Sufi musicians. The western violin is also used, with an alternative tuning preferred by Iranian musicians. The ghaychak, that is a type of fiddle, is being re-introduced to the classical music after many years of exclusion.

Ancient Persian/Iranian Art - History

With the collaboration of R. H. Dyson and contributions by C.K. Wilkinson

The earliest objects found in Iran which manifest the desire to express an idea by forms that are effective and perhaps even pleasing are clay figurines found in the excavation of a Neolithic village at Tepe Sarab near Kermanshab. Two of these, which were most carefully executed, are here reproduced. One is a female figure called here the 'Venus' of Tepe Sarab the other is a little boar.

The female figurine is represented seated with its legs stretched out. Buttocks, thighs and legs are summarized in club-like forms which taper toward the end. Each 'leg' has an oblique grove on the side, perhaps meant to indicate the division between leg and thigh. The ends of the club -like forms are broken off, but it is unlikely that the feet were separately shaped. At most there may have been a line separating the end from the rest of the form and indicating the ankle joint. The upper part of the body, in which the arms are not indicated, is shaped like a broad cone from which the tall neck rises as a steeper and much narrower cone, ending in a short, slightly lengthened horizontal ridge with a rounded edge. The pear-shaped breasts project from the cone of the body approximately at the inception of the neck. One may note that the figurine is put together from several single parts and that the shape of the legs is not unlike that of the breasts, which gives a certain visual unity to the sculpture.

The abstraction of the rendering suggests at once that there was not intention here of showing a specific individual instead, the stress was placed on the general female characteristics, the breasts and thighs, which are obviously meant to express ideas of fertility. Numerous fragments of figurines of this type and also much plainer ones were found at Tepe Sarab. Other such female figurines with more or less schematized forms were found in the remains of the Early Village Cultures of the Near East [about 6000-4000 B.C.] From Tepe Sarab in Iran to Çatal Hüyük and Hacilar in Turkey. [1] They must have had a specific meaning which we can understand and render only in the most general terms: there undoubtedly existed a belief in sympathetic magic according to which fertility and wealth could be increased by effective renderings in sculpture and painting of the objects associated with them. Thus art was an instrument capable of exerting influence upon nature, man and perhaps even god--though for this early period we cannot assume the existence of concepts of anthropomorphic deities similar to those later known in the cultures of the ancient Near East.

The second figurine from Tepe Sarab represents a boar which is rendered very naturalistically, in contrast to the abstract form of the Venus. The legs are rendered in the simplest way, by pressing together and bending the clay into more or less angular shapes. Yet they create the impression of an animal in rapid movement. The irregular crossing lines on the body may represent bristles, but more likely, and more in keeping with renderings elsewhere, they indicate the wounds received from the weapons of the huntsman. Whatever the significance of this detail, it seems likely that the figurine was made to assure in some way future success in the hunt of the boar. This magical, or should we rather say 'practical', meaning of art for the people who desired these objects, and for those who executed them, appears to have survived in Iran until the Sasanian period. At the same time the desire to decorate an object so as to enliven its appearance should not be disregarded. The bone handle of a flint knife found in a very early [p. 21] level of the excavations at Tepe Sialk near Kashan might be interpreted in this manner. The handle shows a man in what later was the Persian posture of greeting, bowing from the hips with arms crossed. The head may be covered by a round cap of a type still worn today, but the face is chipped off. He wears a kilt rolled up at the waist. The separation of the legs is indicated by a shallow groove in front, below which the feet are shown by a very slight projection. Below the feet was a deep grove for the flint blade, which is not preserved. Other handles made of bone from Tepe Sialk have plain animal heads. We do not know whether these handles were made for magical purposes or merely for the pleasure of decorating. In either case a convincing rendering of human and animal forms has been achieved here as at Tepe Sarab by the simplest means.

Pottery, which appeared in Iran early in the Neolithic Age, provided a cheap substitute for carefully ground stone vessels and less permanent wood and skin containers. It satisfied the need for a variety of such containers in shapes ranging from drinking-cups to cooking pots and storage jars. Many of the vessels excavated in prehistoric sites are therefore utilitarian in nature with thick walls and little or no decoration.

From the beginning, however, the Iranian potter produced some decorated wares. Soon a whole range of fine pottery developed with local styles of decoration based on the ingenuity of the potter, who was inspired by materials and themes already established in his culture and by the stimulus provided by the natural forms of the surrounding countryside. The new medium, pottery, provided the wide range of creative opportunity. Not only could the plastic material be formed into a variety of shapes but its colour could be changed by changing the method of firing and its surface could be decorated by impressing or painting patterns on it. It is scarcely surprising that for over two thousand years, from about 5500 to about 3000 B.C., the shaping and painting of pottery was one of the principal artistic activities of the villagers of Iran. Even after 3000 B.C., the approximate date by which the first truly urban civilization had arisen at Susa in south-western Iran, the production of painted pottery continued in the villages of some areas for centuries.

A study of the art of Iran requires that only pottery representing high points in the artistic production of the country be mentioned here. It is to be understood of course, that such selected pottery by no means reflects the entire state of the ceramic industry in any given village culture.

The relevance of early pottery to the general development of art has been pointed out by Sir Herbert Read, who said: 'Pottery is at once the simplest and the most difficult of all arts. It is the simplest because it is the most elementary it is the most difficult because it is the most abstract.' And continues: 'Judge the art of a country, judge the fineness of its sensibility by its pottery it is a sure touchstone. Pottery is pure art it is art freed from imitative intention. Sculpture, to which it is most nearly related, had from the first an imitative intention and it is perhaps to that extent less free from the expression of the will to form than pottery pottery is plastic art in its most abstract essence.' [2]

The case for pottery is thus presented in a somewhat exaggerated form and without due consideration of the limitations imposed on the potter by his craft and by the purpose of the objects which he fashioned. Nevertheless, Read furnishes [p. 22] arguments for a consideration of pottery beyond that of archaeological chronology and the study of the diffusion of ceramic traits from one region to another. The latter two studies, however, provide our only guide to the arrangement of early Iranian cultures in space and time, since written sources are lacking for most regions until the middle of the first millennium B.C. --except at Susa, where Mesopotamian influence caused an output of cuneiform texts from the third millennium onward.

The limited extent of systematic archaeological investigation of Iran, and in several instances its poor quality, makes an outline of ceramic and consequently stylistic development highly tentative. Nevertheless, the broad outline for the piedmontal area of the central plateau and the lowland around Susa is discernible, as well as more recently that of early settlements in Azarbaijan.

In the mountain arc surrounding the central desert, reaching approximately from Persepolis and Kerman around to Teheran and Meshed, several early sites have been investigated which show a similar type of coarse buff-brown hand-made pottery. The clay contains a great deal of chopped straw used as a tempering agent to prevent cracking while drying and firing. Surfaces were commonly given a lustrous finish by over-all burnishing. In several excavated sites, such as Tall-i Bakun near Persepolis, and the Belt and Hotu caves, near Beshar on the Caspian shore, this ware, sometimes called soft ware because it crumbles easily, has been found to precede more decorated wares painted black on a red or buff ground. At two other early sites of importance, Tepe Sialk near Kashan and Cheshm-i Ali near Teheran, similar soft ware occurs without decoration along with the later painted pottery. Closely related plain wares associated with painted pottery also occur in the earl sites of Tepe Sarab near Kermanshah, in basal Tepe Giyan near Nihavend, and at Hajji Firuz Tepe in southern Azarbaijan. This extended enumeration of sites bearing a closely related type of pottery becomes interesting when it is realized that similarity in pottery implies contact between villages. In some way the knowledge of how to make pottery from clay mixed with chaff temper spread--whether by trade or by some other means is unknown. Nor is the centre of the earliest pottery manufacture in the Near East known, for the Iranian samples are as yet insufficient to suggest that they represent the sites where pottery was invented.

More distinctive of early Iranian art than the more primitive pottery are the Chalcolithic painted wares which developed on the plateau and also in the western mountains. Their distribution coincides on the one hand with the agricultural zone around the northern end of the central piedmont and on the other with major agricultural valleys in the Zagros. In the central area they have been found at sites near Kashan, Qum, Saveh, Rayy, Tepe Hissar Damghan and Nishapur, as well as on the Caspian coast at Hotu cave. In the Zagros they occur in the north at Hajji Firuz Tepe and Dalma Tepe in the Solduz valley of Azarbaijan near Kermanshah they are found at Tepe Siahbid, and in the plains at Pasargadae and Persepolis we may mention Tall-i Bakun and Tall-i Nokhodi, [3] a new site. The history of one of these regional developments in painted pottery is best recorded at Tepe Sialk, where the earliest phase is one of purely abstract decoration. Typical of this stage are simple geometric patterns like the lozenges painted in black on a red ground inside the deep fragmentary bowl seen in Figure 2. Hatched and cross-hatched lozenges, zigzags and undulating lines were often used in groups of four, first on the inside and later on the outside of bowls. A second ware used a buff slip as the ground for a delicate type of panel [p. 23] pattern which may have been derived from basketry. All of the geometric designs are characterized by the extent to which they appear as net patterns imposed upon the background, which thus forms an integral part of every design. Only a few patterns composed of solid black triangles occur. The finer pottery with a narrow flat base from which the walls flare out and then change to a more vertical direction. The same basic form, but with the shoulder placed higher in the bowl, was still used in the third period of Sialk about a thousand years later. Another early Sialk form which has been associated with later shapes by the excavator, R. Ghirshman, is the open bowl on a large foot. The walls are much thicker than those previously described. Vessels of both types were covered with a buff slip and decorated with a panelled pattern. Radio-carbon tests indirectly suggest a date of around 5000 B.C. for this early phase on the plateau.

We speak here of one phase because there is consistency in the pottery found in the excavated layers or levels, of which there were five in Period I at Sialk. The first yielded no walls, but the other four present four subsequent levels of construction of pisé walls, which correspond to four levels of occupation. When the pottery changes, when new forms of decoration, new colours, new shapes appear, it is assumed that a new period or phase has begun. Such changes may have been brought about by the addition of a new element in the population, or they may have been independently evolved. The latter seems unlikely when a change in pottery is accompanied by changes in the other remains such as building materials and methods. Such changes occurred between Periods I and I at Sialk when the pisé walls of Period I were replaced by the mud brick of Period II and [p. 24] the pottery of Period II appeared, which is more evolved than that of Period I. It is thin-walled, generally fired a brick red, and contains less straw than the foregoing wares. Patterns now expand. The interiors of deep bowls are divided into segments of different design or are covered by over-all designs. Often the pattern consists of geometric forms and lines so combined as to suggest organic forms. Most distinctive of this new departure are ibexes obtained by adding two short curved lines as horns to a form composed of two semicircles with the space between filled by vertical hatching. A bowl in the Metropolitan Museum, with linked ibex horns in a delicate pattern inside, is a fine example of the style of Period II which has been found at numerous sites other than Sialk--for example, at Kara Tepe in Shahriyar province west of Teheran, where an almost identical bowl was discovered. [4]

The third period at Sialk witnessed the emergence of more naturalistic animal forms than before and the combination of motifs into more complex compositions. By the middle of the period vertically and horizontally directed motifs had appeared. The vertical ones consisted of four elements: superimposed volutes, horizontal 'bird' chevrons, horned lozenges and vertical placed snakes. Horizontal motifs consisted of geometric forms like chequer-boards, but the more interesting vessels have rows of animals, felines, birds or a snake. At the end of the period horned animals are seen, first in panels, then in cursorily executed rows. Man appears fairly frequently with triangular thorax and summarily rendered head. To the same period belongs a vase in the shape of an animal such vases are called theriomorphic.

The change in decoration corresponds to the change in the consistency of the clay and in the manner of manufacture. At the beginning of the period the clay still [p. 26] contains some straw, but by the middle the clay is very compact with virtually no straw and the surface is smooth, with a soapy feeling. Increased firing temperatures due to improved kilns changed the red colouring to buff or cream [the entire range often occurring on a single vessel] to which a slight lustre is added by light burnishing. Later the surface and paint are again left mat and the colour of the clay has a greenish cast reminiscent of the clays of south-western Iran and Mesopotamia. A most important technological revolution, which occurred during Period III, was the introduction of the potter's wheel, which permitted mass production of new and more regular shapes. The appearance of the actual 'fast' wheel may have been preceded by use of a turn-table, or tournette, as it is called in French. This was a device by which the potter could easily bring every side of the vessel within his reach by turning it on a movable base--a mat or perhaps a clay or stone disk--which in some instances may have been pivoted. The actual potter's wheel can be made to spin fast enough to impart centrifugal force to a centered lump of clay. The result is a more regular form with more sharply defined profiles. A footed beaker was one of the characteristic forms of this new technique, but older forms carried on as well. [p. 27]

In the middle of Period III at Sialk connections can be observed with the potter of other sites, for example, with that of Tepe Hissar at Damghan several hundred miles to the north-east. The main body of Hissar painted pottery [Period IB and IC] is very similar to its Sialk counterpart. Footed beakers with rows of animals and animals in panels, for example, are also found at both sites. One would like to theorize on the nature of this relationship. Why was one pottery essentially duplicated in another place? How did it become known: through trade, through migrant workers or through migration of a people? At any rate the fact that there were connections not only with Hissar but also with the pottery of Tepe Giyan--far to the west, over steep mountain passes--and with other sites indicates that the art of pottery-making was widespread and subject to influences from afar. The technique of mass production which had been created with the potter's wheel and the form of decoration, a combination of geometric and animal forms tastefully adjusted to the form of the vessel, laid the foundation for much of the stylistic tradition which subsequently characterized the pottery of Iran and which eventually found its way even to central India.

The sequence of south-western Iranian pottery cultures is known from two areas, Susiana and the Persepolis plain. Susiana, the region surrounding Susa, has prior claim to our interest because of the fact that prehistoric Iranian pottery was first discovered there and because, owing to its inherent aesthetic appeal, this pottery was the subject of a major essay in stylistic analysis made by the classical archaeologist E. Pottier. [5] Prehistoric Iran was thereby brought for the first time into the field of vision of general art history. When the painted pottery of Susa with its marvelously balanced panelled animal designs was first discovered, it was considered the earliest in the area. Recent excavations however, have shown that it came very late indeed in a development which began before 6500 BC., at a time when pottery was not yet used in the region. [6] Once painted pottery had been developed, several stages followed each other in the Susiana before the exceptional quality of the Susa I pottery had been attained [see Appendix, Chart I: Painted Pottery of Iran].

The example of Susa pottery usually shown is one of the large goblets with ibexes. Of all the painted pottery objects of the ancient Near East, the one here reproduced, which is in the Louvre, is the most successful. The design consists of three panels in each of which the principal figure is an ibex, its body formed by two connected triangles with curved sides. The curve of the back is continued in the marvelous sweep of the horns, which enclose an unidentifiable round object, marked with a central line of chevrons suggesting a plant and, at the side, cross-hatched segments. It may be only a filler design for an otherwise empty space at the same time it may also give a shorthand indication of plant and pasture. The frame surrounding the ibex becomes slightly narrower toward the bottom and thereby emphasizes the shape of the vessel. A stress on the circular circumference of the goblet is produced by a row of running saluki-like dogs with elongated bodies and also by the dark bands which border each register of [p. 28] animals. The top is formed by birds with long thin necks these create a very light design in contrast to the bottom, which has a thick band of dark paint that gives solidity to the base. Our short description can only enumerate the elements of the design it cannot render adequately in words the extraordinary feeling for balance in every detail expressed by the decoration of this vessel.

In addition to the goblets, the insides of open bowls show paintings of similar character, also with a remarkable equipoise between geometric ornament and animal form. The latter is so adjusted to decorative purposes that the over-all effect is entirely harmonious. The composition of the design stresses the circular form of the bowl in various ways: by bands which partly follow the curve of the bowl but turn several times at right angles, by three or four circles arranged within the bowl, or by lines which form counter-curves to the circumference of the bowl. Less artful arrangements involve concentric circles or radial compositions.

In the Persepolis region, at Tall-i Bakun, the probably contemporary painted pottery did not reach quite the degree of sophistication of that at Susa. A pleasing object is, however, one of the many conical bowls painted on the outside with two moufflons whose tremendously enlarged horns form swelling spirals. The space between the horns is filled by cross-hatched squares and circles with an enclosed cross.

Other patterns from Tall-i Bakun and Tal-i Nokhodi show the use of negative design with the same freedom as in a painted filled design. A reversal of forms in rhythmic sequence rather than axial symmetry is also to be observed.

The decorative inventiveness of the early potters of Iran, their sense of form and balance, the assurance with which they executed their lines and shapes, transformed these vessels of simple clay into pleasing works of art. It seems likely that the pottery motifs had more than merely decorative value, but all speculation about their meaning must remain simply speculation.

The use of seals accompanied the emergence of civilization in Iran as in many other regions of western Asia. These engraved seal-stones of various shapes were impressed on lumps of clay which had been pressed over the strings wound around the neck of a vessel to secure in place the piece of woven material or other device which was employed to cover the mouth of the vessel. Other such clay sealings assured the safety of the contents of baskets or of containers fashioned of various materials. No unauthorized person could tamper with goods protected by clay sealings without risking the heavy penalties imposed on thieves in antiquity. [p. 30]

Aside from its practical function, the design engraved on the sealing surface--geometric, animal or human forms--probably had a general protective significance. Thus the seals which were usually perforated and worn as a pendant on a necklace or bracelet surely also served as amulets.

As in the potter of Iran, several groups can be distinguished among the stamp seals of that country, their style differing according to place and date of origin. [7] Only two examples are shown here, both of them closely related to groups of seals represented at Susa, although both were said to have been found in Luristan. The first is a black plaque perforated lengthwise through the middle of the object. One side of the plaque is engraved with a demon with a human body and moufflon horns. The demon has the elbows bent and both hands raised in a gesture of conjuration. Two snakes extend their triangular heads toward the demon's armpits. On either side of the demon appear several V-shaped lines of diminishing size and unknown meaning. The design is deeply and sharply gouged out from the relatively soft stone. All the shapes, such as the demon's limbs, are indicated merely by lines--except for his thorax, which is a triangular plane with horizontal lines and small vertical nicks, perhaps meant to suggest hair. Some surface design is also indicated on the bodies of the snakes, which are represented by two lines between which there is hatching in changing directions. The plaque belongs to the style of Susa A, contemporary with the beautiful pottery discussed above. In one of the painted bowls [8] occurs a human figure whose torso is similarly rendered in triangular form, although the fact that the demon on the seal has bent knees and the figure on the bowl stands upright makes the latter seem more advanced and human, whereas our demon seems to be shuffling along like an animal.

The second seal shown here is called in seal terminology a low hemispheroid. The seal is of dark red stone and has on the base the figure of a demon with the head of an ibex and feet in the form of heads of horned animals--the one recognizable horn looks like that of a bovine animal, but one cannot be sure with one hand the demon holds an ibex by the horns, with the other he raises a second ibex by one hind leg. It seems as if the demon were about to throw these animals into the air. His body is covered with short striations which probably indicate a hariy skin. The engraving is much more delicate than on the foregoing seal the entire surface of the bodies is hollowed out of the stone, and the outlines are almost naturalistically drawn. Moreover, despite the animal-head form of the feet, the demon's posture is so human that one is inclined to think of a man in the guise of a demon rather than a creature from the fearful unreasoning world of animal demons.

It is interesting to note that in the period to which the second stamp seal belongs, Susa B, the painted pottery of Susa A appears to have been largely replaced by unpainted pottery with characteristics of the Uruk period of Mesopotamia. [9] At all times Mesopotamian art appears to have centered more on man than did the pre-Islamic art of Iran. Perhaps Mesopotamian influence, so noticeable in the pottery of Susa of that time, was also responsible for the striking differences from the moufflon demon in the conception of the ibex demon in this seal. The difference in the horns, moufflon and ibex, of the demons on our two seals may or may not indicate a basic difference in the meaning of the figures. We can only say that, of the two, the ibex demon was far more widely represented and seems to have alternated on seal impressions from Susa with a human master of animals who in one case wears ibex horns on a fez-like headgear. [10] [p. 32]

This is the first evidence for the representation of human and demonic creatures whose power to control snakes and other dangerous animals transcends that of ordinary men. Unfortunately we may never know whether we should call these powerful superhuman beings gods, shamans or--taking into consideration the occasional human form of the figure--kings with superhuman powers.

When the ibex demon was represented in Mesopotamia [11] he probably had a different and lesser significance. At least in historical times, gods were shown in Mesopotamia in human form and only demons, most of them evil, were given features of animals. [p. 33]

1. For a description of the Khuzistan region and its connections with Mesopotamia, see Adams, 'Early South-western Iran,' p. 109.

2. Ann L. Perkins in Relative Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, ed. R. W. Ehrich [Univ of Chicago Press, 1954], p. 42, pointed to the fact that northern Mesopotamia lay 'in the path of migratory movements and commerce between Syria and Iran [and farther Asia] and the lands bordering the Mediterranean.'

3. For a discussion of these 'areas of refuge,' see Frye, Heritage of Persia, pp. 7-9.

4. The ornaments of the wooden horses from the equestrian statue in the Rumbur valley, Kafiristan, are reproduced in ILN [March 30, 1963], p. 468, lower left. In the time of King Sargon [721-705 B.C.], Assyrian horses had similar ornaments worn in the same way, as shown in Barnett, Assyrian Reliefs, Pl. 43. Herzfeld, Iran, p. 141, Fig. 256, reproduced drawings of several slightly differing ornaments of this type, two of which are Assyrian, one comes from Luristan, another from the Ordos region. Examples made of shell in various shapes, which were found at Nimrud, are in the Metropolitan Museum, acc. nos. 54-117, 16-19.

5. For an archaeological survey of Seistan, see W. A. Fairservis, Archeological Studies in the Seiston Basin of Southwestern Afghanistan and Eastern Iran [Anthroplogical Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 48, New York, 1961].

6. Numerous sources of copper are known elsewhere in Iran see R. J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology IX [Leyden, 1964], p. 9.

Historical relations between India and Iran

New Delhi: The age-long historical relations between the Iranians and the people of the Indian subcontinent date back to a very remote past. In the splendid civilization of Mohenjodaro and the Sindh Valley which flourished between 2500 and 1500 BC, there are visible signs of relationship with the Iranian civilization. The ancient relics, earthenware and the marked resemblance in their designs and patterns are strong evidence in favor of this assertion.

This civilization is followed by the arrival of the Aryans in this land. Although the factors which lead to this mass migration are yet not fully known the various similarities found in the legends and religious texts of the two peoples allude to such connection. Some of the scholars are of the opinion that Sanskrit, Old Persian, and Avestan languages are the sisters born of the same mother. Inauthentic books of history some references have been made to the continuous relations of the two people during the days of the Medes, Pishdadiyan, and Kiwanian. In the holy book of Zoroastrians i.e. Avesta, too, mention has been made of North India.

Fortunately, since the Achaemenid period, we have authentic sources like the historical monuments of Persepolis. During the Achaemenid rule in the kingdom of Darius the Great the artisans, craftsmen, and traders traveled from Iran to India and from India to Iran and even in some battles between Iran and Greece the Indian soldiers fought as a part of the army of Achaemenid. The relics of Persepolis to confirm this view.

After the invasion of Alexander and the subsequent establishment of the Seleucid reign the relations between Iran and India weakened but following the fall of the Seleucids and foundation of the Parthian rule (228 CE), the relations between the two people were further enhanced, while the Sasanian period (224 – 651 CE) provides an excellent example of cultural affinity between them.

This reciprocal enrichment continued and there was an exchange of visits and even inter-marriage came in vogue between the two peoples. As the great poet of Iran Ferdowsi has related in Shahnameh, (The Book of Kings) the Sassanid king Bahram-e Gur who was a man of festivity, hunting and music, requested the Indian king Shangol to select ten thousand expert singers and musicians and send them to Iran so that they teach the art of Indian music and Iranians may learn Indian musical tunes and the Indian king did so.

Some of the historical works have claimed that Bahram-e Gur (d. 438 CE) even came on a visit to India and the Iranian kings also chose some of the Indian women as their queens. Similarly there are several other examples of very close cultural relations in the pre-Islamic era such as the well-known translation of Panchatantra – the ancient Indian book of fables in Sanskrit into Pahlavi during the reign of Anushiravan, better known as Nowsherwan the Just, and the arrival of chess in Iran from India and sending of backgammon to India by Nowsherwan which was an invention of Bozorgmehr, Nowsherwan’s wise minister. There was also the presence of several Indian translators in the royal courts of the Sassanid and ever-growing commercial and trade relations between the two countries, followed by the constant trail of traders’ caravans.

(12) With the advent of Islam and the subsequent gradual conversion of the Iranians to Islam in 652 CE which led to the end of the Sassanid rule in Iran, Iran was annexed to the vast Muslim empire.
Thousands of Iranian scholars, writers, poets and physicians who brought with them the Persian language, customs and traditions and this led to the serious and all-out the impact of Iranian culture on the Indian culture. So the Iranian culture was effectively grafted on the Indian soil and consequently, the ever-existing cordial relations between the two people were further enhanced. It is also considered as the beginning of the influence of the Persian language which developed more and more with the passage of time.

Keeping in view the historical – intellectual traditions of this region, the mystics and Sufis played a very important role in the dissemination of Islam in these areas. They compiled a number of books and treatises on Islamic Sufism in Persian which had an effective role in the development and promotion of Persian in these territories.

Sheikh Ali Hujweri (d. circa 1099 CE) the renowned Sufi author of Kashf ul-Mahjub arrived in Lahore in 1040 CE and wrote the first work on Islamic Sufism in Persian prose which is considered to be the earliest book written in Persian in the Indian subcontinent.

Among a large number of poets, writers, scholars, and Sufis who flourished in India. Persian language and the Iranian culture reached the remotest corners of the subcontinent and scholars, theologians and artists from different parts of Iran like Tabriz, Isfahan, and Ray thronged the courts in India and received rich gifts and rewards.

The founders of four main Sufi orders of Chishti, Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya, and Naqshbandi who established these Sufi orders in India migrated from Iran to India. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti or KhwajaGhareeb Nawaz was an Iranian Muslim preacher, ascetic, religious scholar, philosopher, and mystic from Chisht in Khurasan, Iran. He settled down in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India in the early 13th-century, where he promulgated the famous Chishtiyya order of Islamic mysticism.

The first promoter of Persian (in the region) was the Sufi saint Seyyed Sharifuddin Bulbul Shah better known as Bulbul Shah Sohrawardi (d. 1327 CE) came to Kashmir.

(16) After him, Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani (1313 – 1383 CE) in the company of 700 persons from among his disciples and friends including some artisans entered Kashmir and started providing religious guidance and instruction which naturally accompanied greatest promotion and spreading of Persian language among the people and rulers of Kashmir.

(17) The artisans also started (teaching and training in) Iranian arts.
The second king of Mughal dynasty in India was Humayun who after the defeat at the hands of Sher Shah Suri Afghan fled to Iran and as a result of military help by Shah Tahmasp Safavi, was able to return to India accompanied by a number of Iranian scholars and poets. It was during the reign of Humayun that due to the acquaintance and long stay of himself and his family in Iran, the number of poets, writers, scholars, and Sufis who migrated to the subcontinent increased gradually.

He too composed poetry in Persian. A Diwan in Persian is also attributed to him.

Akbar Jalaluddin ruled for about half a century. He was unparalleled as regards to the special attention paid and interest taken by him in Persian poetry and his patronage of Iranian scholars. In this period, Iranian poets migrated to the subcontinent in great numbers.

Akbar for the first time appointed a poet as poet-laureate in his court. His first poet-laureate was Ghazali Mashhadi, who was followed by Faizi Akbarabadi. Some of the nobles of his court like Abdur Rahim Khan-e Khanan, also made an important contribution in the development and spread of the Persian language and the Iranian culture.

Following the marriage of Jahangir Nuruddin to Nur Jahan, the daughter of an Iranian noble, Mirza Ghiyasuddin Beg Tehrani, the influence of Iranian language and literature in this subcontinent increased considerably.

Iranian art and architecture also gained extensive popularity.
Shahjahan Shahabuddin’s period is characterized by the glory of Iranian culture and art in the subcontinent. The Iranian architecture and Persian inscriptions on the various buildings became extensively popular in the subcontinent. A large number of forts, gardens, and mosques were built during his period, like the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Jami’ Masjid in Delhi. The famous poets of his time are Abu Talib Kalim, poet-laureate of his court, Qudsi Mashhadi and Sa’eb Tabrizi.

Aurangzeb Alamgir succeeded his father Shah Jahan and although he had little interest in poetry, Persian prose did make a lot of headway. Ruqqa’at-i-Alamgiri (the letters of Alamgir) written by him are a brilliant example of Persian essays. His daughter Zebun Nisa is known for her Persian poetry and her Persian Diwan is available even today.

After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal power also declined and his eleven successors could not keep the vast empire intact. Persian however retained is popularity. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (d. 1869 CE) belonged to this period. Ghalib is a distinguished poet of Persian and Urdu in India.
The British period began in 1757 CE and this imperialist rule left no stone unturned in destroying even the last remnants of Persian in this area but all their endeavors failed at least in the sphere of Persian poetry. The Persian poets in India played an important role in the preservation and popularity of the Persian language in the subcontinent. After the independence of India in 1947, the Persian language is taught in all the leading universities in India.

As already mentioned, Persian had been the official language of India for centuries and during this long span of time, hundreds of books had been written by the scholars and poets of India on different subjects. The history of India of this period had been written invariably in Persian. In addition to anthologies and Diwans of poetry, Persian dictionaries are among the most important works compiled. There have been more than one hundred dictionaries compiled in this area. Many translations had also been done and even religious books of Hindus like Ramayana, and Upanishads were translated into Persian.

Even today many books of Persian language are translated into Urdu and other languages and the books are written in the subcontinent are rendered in Persian. The process of cultural exchange between the two nations has continued and it is hoped that this dialogue between the two civilizations will further enhance.

The relations between two brotherly countries India and Iran in real sense strengthened only after 1947 in the political, economic and cultural fields. India and Iran have unitedly fought of the menace and danger of terrorism and are cooperating closely with each other in this field.

The development of the most strategic Iranian seaport of Chahbahar located in the Sea of Oman by the Indian companies has brought together India, Iran, and Afghanistan in the close strategic bond of friendship and cooperation. The most strategic Iranian seaport of Chahbahar is the shortest route for the quick transport of Indian goods to Russia, Afghanistan, and Central Asian countries.

Main History elements in the Persian Art

The art of Persians people in ancient timesreflected their inclination to represent the reality of their lifes and history with clarity without complications in the messages that the art works intended to transmit. In the great Iran which corresponds to the present-day States of: Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and neighboring regions was born one of the richest artistic heritage in the world, The Persian Art where diverse disciplines including architecture, painting, fabrics, ceramics, calligraphy, metallurgy and masonry were developed with highly advances techniques and imaginative artistic expressions.

History is obviously a very powerful factor not only to shape the cultural identity of a region, but also to give color and local identification to it. History contributes to be able to define the dominant cultural characteristics of the people in each region and for instants their art tendencies. This statement in Persian art is very important to take in consideration, since in each period of this imaginative culture the art expression of the people was very aware of their social, political and economic surroundings. Their art was a reflection of their every day issues and was represented in all the drama and poetic means they could use. Not only was the architecture, painting sculpture, ceramic, golsmith or silversmith they extend this means of expression to poems, historical narratives, and fantastic stories.

The Persian Achaemenid Dynasty

The Achaemenid Dynasty marks the emergence of an important stage in the culture of Persia. Aqueménides Persian rulers embraced the artistic achievements of foreign civilizations and absorption occurred in their culture, but this artistic achivements did not satisfy the Persians who gradually created new and particular artistic and technical patterns much more related to the imagination and the histrionic expressiveness of facts and feelings of the Persian people.

The historical archives which refer to the civilization of the Persians show data ranging from 1000 BC to 600 B.C. These historical data are not marked relevant for the Persian Art until the emerge of Cyrus I (550 until 530 BC).

The reign of Cyrus the Great

During the reign of Cyrus the Great, Persia expands to the West and Northwest beyond the borders of what is today Iran to include Babylonia, some of the Aegean Islands and Anatolia (Asia Minor known in our days by Turkey). The son of Cyrus, Cambyses (530 to 522 BC), forces the Pharaoh of Egypt and the islands of Cypress to accept the Persian rule.

Persepolis Palace, Duomo, Cupulas

The reign of Darius

Persia empire reached its geographical peak during the reign of Darius I (522 to 486 BC) Dario’s Government reaches from sea Eral to the Persian Gulf. It also stretched from the first cataract of the Nile River to the Valley of the Rio Hindu.

The rule of Darius covers many cultures. He and his son used foreign artists to promote and strengthen its image of power dare carefully using certain amount of sculptures. This has resulted in the proliferation and the splendor of artistic monuments and buildings with great architectural value. Among these monuments are the Palace of Persepolis sculptures. Susa, Parsedae and Persepolis where the three most important cities of Persia.

Darius listed skilled artists and craftsmen natives of Egypt Greek Ionian and Mesopotamia. They constructed the buildings on a large scale to propagandize his power, so that the effect on the spectator should be daunting.

Ancient persian relief from Persepolis Palace

The Palace of Darius was a resulting stylistic amalgam of influences from countries and regions where all these artists that he recruited came from.

However nevertheless to concur hear so much artistic talent with different inheritance, the constructive design and the decoration of each of the parts of the Palace answered perfectly the needs of expression, ideological and religious of Persian culture as well as a grandiloquent representation of power, the main intension of the message transmitted.

The Sassanid period

The Sassanid period which comprises the entire final period of classical antiquity that even survive a few centuries, is considered one of the most important and influential of the Iran historical periods. Here occurred the greatest achievements of Persian culture, and constituted the last great Iranian Empire before the Islamic conquest of Persia and the adoption of the Islam as a religion throughout the territory.

Sassanid period ancient persian art.

Persia had an important influence on the Roman civilization culture and also spread their influence well beyond, reaching as far away as Europe, the India, China and the Africa territories.

The Persian culture plays a key role in the formation of the medieval, European and Asian art, reaching the budding Islamic world as well.

The aristocratic and exclusive culture of the Sassanid dynasty became a Persian ‘Renaissance’. The precedence of what would be later known as ‘Islamic culture’ (architecture elements, draperies mastery, jewelry, writing and other skills) were adopted by the broader Islamic world from the Sassanid Persians.

Handmade ancient persian rugs utilized natural ingredients

The famous tapestry, the beautiful works of precious metalwork, reliefs worked in different types of materials as well as the frescoes of bright colors and eloquent expressiveness are today invaluable art work and palpable testimony of the importance of the Sassanid culture who saw themselves as successors of the Aqueménides after the interlude of Hellenistic and Parthian rule, and were convinced that their destiny was to restore the greatness of Persia.

The art of this period reveals an astonishing vitality, anticipating in some respects to the key elements of Islamic art. Sassanid art combined elements of traditional Persian art with elements and influences of Hellenistic art.

The conquest of Persia by Alexander the great began the spread of Hellenistic art into Western Asia. These artistic influences were accepted only externally, the essence never were complete assimilated.

Hellenistic art was interpreted freely by the peoples of the Near East. Thus the Sassanid period was a reaction against these art forms. Sassanid art revived traditional native Persian forms and, and already in the Islamic period, these forms reached the shores of the Mediterranean.

With the rise of the Sassanid’s, Persia regained much of the power and stability they long had lost leading to the resurgence of the art based on the traditions of the time of the Aqueménida culture.

The unique characteristic of Sassanid architecture is the distinctive use of space. Sassanid architects conceived his buildings in terms of masses and surfaces. This led to the use in abundance of brick walls decorated with molded or carved stucco.

The Islamic Period

After the completion of the Sassanid Persians period of predominance Persia integrated the list of regions that embrace Islam. This religion resulted in important changes in the Persian culture covering all areas of the spiri­tual and intellectual elements which determine the life of a traditional society.

If we define the culture as the one to cover these basic elements, “according to Western concepts”, then, there is undoubtedly a unique Islamic culture with different ‘zones’ or worlds contained therein, ‘worlds‘ that are United by the spirit and the sacred form of tradition and are separated by local factors, geographical, linguistic, ethnic or otherwise.

Many factors alone, or in combination could be enumerated, as they have been responsible for the creation of these Islamic cultural ‘worlds’ and they can be used as criteria for the delineation and description of each.

It is clear that the racial and ethnic characteristics of the peoples who have embraced Islam have been a very decisive factor in local cultural variations. These features have affected the language and literature, artistic forms of all kinds, which include clothing, ornamentation, the various styles of calligraphy and architecture, music, the creation of tapestries and metalwork as well as painting and ceramics processing.

Once Islamism converted, the Persians became the main instrument of the expansion of Islam in most of the rest of the Asian territory, at least until Malaysia. The Islamic period has given as predecessors History periods in the Persian Culture, innumerable and invaluable works of art that resonate in perfect accordance with the traditions and the religious fervor with which they were made for and shown, as in the previous periods evolutionary characteristics inherent not only to the history but also to the region in which they were created.

Ancient Persian/Iranian Art - History

TEHRAN – The Sassanid era (224 CE–651) is of very high importance in the history of Iran. Under Sassanids, Persian art and architecture experienced a general renaissance.

Architecture often took grandiose proportions such as palaces at Ctesiphon, Firuzabad, and Sarvestan that are amongst highlights of the ensemble.

Crafts such as metalwork and gem-engraving grew highly sophisticated, yet scholarship was encouraged by the state. In those years, works from both the East and West were translated into Pahlavi, the language of the Sassanians.

Rock-carved sculptures and bas-reliefs on abrupt limestone cliffs are widely deemed as characteristics and striking relics of the Sassanian art, top examples of which can be traced at Bishapur, Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab in southern Iran.

In 2018, UNESCO added an ensemble of Sassanian historical cities in southern Iran -- titled “Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region”-- to its World Heritage list.

The ensemble is comprised of eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical parts of Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. It reflects the optimized utilization of natural topography and bears witness to the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and of Roman art, which later had a significant impact on the architecture and artistic styles of the Islamic era.

Efforts made by the Sassanids also yield a revival of Iranian nationalism took place, for example, Zoroastrianism was declared as the state religion.

The dynasty evolved by Ardashir I and was destroyed by the Arabs during a period of 637 to 651. The dynasty was named after Sasan, an ancestor of Ardashir I.

Under his leadership who reigned from 224 to 241, the Sassanians overthrew the Parthians and created an empire that was constantly changing in size as it reacted to Rome and Byzantium to the west and to the Kushans and Hephthalites to the east, according to Britannica Encyclopedia.

At the time of Shapur I (reigned 241 CE–272), the empire stretched from Sogdiana and Iberia (Georgia) in the north to the Mazun region of Arabia in the south in the east it extended to the Indus River and in the west to the upper Tigris and Euphrates river valleys.

Bust of a Sasanian king, most likely Shapur II

According to UNESCO, the ancient cities of Ardashir Khurreh and Bishapur include the most significant remaining testimonies of the earliest moments of the Sassanid Empire, the commencement under Ardashir I and the establishment of power under both Ardashir I and his successor Shapur I.

“The architecture of the Sassanid monuments in the property further illustrates early examples of construction of domes with squinches on square spaces, such as in the chahar-taq buildings, where the four sides of the square room show arched openings: this architectural form turned into the most typical form of Sassanid religious architecture, relating closely to the expansion and stabilization of Zoroastrianism under Sassanid reign and continuing during the Islamic era thanks to its usage in religious and holy buildings such as mosques and tombs,” the UN cultural body say in its website.

The Sassanid archaeological landscape also represents a highly efficient system of land use and strategic utilization of natural topography in the creation of the earliest cultural centers of the Sassanid civilization.

Ancient Persian/Iranian Art - History

CAIS is a cultural body founded in 1998, to promote scholarship and

research in all aspects of pre-Islamic Iranian Civilization

T he Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS) is an independent not-for-profit educational programme, with no affiliation to any political or religious group dedicated to the research, protection, preservation of the pre-Islamic Iranian civilisation.

CAIS was established in 1998 by Shapour Suren-Pahlav and Oric Basirov (Department of Art and Archaeology), under the name of "Ancient Iranian Civilisation at the School of Oriental and African Studies" (AIC at SOAS) and later changed to "The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies" (CAIS at SOAS) of the University of London, to act as a forum for the exchange of information about the art, archaeology, culture and civilisation of Iranian peoples. CAIS no longer has any affiliation with SOAS .

The mission of the Circle is to expand understanding and appreciation of pre-Islamic Iranian heritage as achieved through systematic investigation of the archaeological and historical records.

The Circle seeks to promote and increase the existing body of knowledge relating to this important area, laying particular emphasis on providing up-to-date information to students, academics and cultural enthusiasts about current Iranian and international research projects and fieldworks.

Although, the Circle's title is about Ancient Iran, it also focuses on the early-Islamic era (as CAIS labels it the "Post-Sasanian period" or Farā-Sāsānī in Persian) of the Iranian art, archaeology, culture, history and languages of the area known as the "Greater Iran", stretching from the Western China to Near East and from the Russian Steppes to southern territories of the Persian Gulf.

The Circle's activities:

- Providing a "free access" website containing scholarly written articles and researches about the ancient Iranian civilisation.

- Daily Newsletter about the latest archaeological discoveries and related news from the Iranian world

- Hosting weekly lectures by scholar's of international reputes.

- Promoting the exchange of information regarding Ancient Iran by means of diverse activities of cultural and scholarly merit in culture and civilisation of the Ancient Iranian Peoples, by forging ties with a number of major institutions throughout the United Kingdom and international educational and cultural establishments.

- Reporting on recently-completed or on-going fieldwork and new research.

Watch the video: Iran Ancient Persian Art engraving on metal Handicraft, Amir Saiee امير ساعي قلمزني فلزات ايران


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  6. Fausto

    This is a convention

  7. Friedrich

    it couldn't have been better

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