Iranian art

Iranian art

The Iranian cultural region - consisting of the modern nations of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and surrounding regions - is home to one of the richest art heritages in world history and encompasses many disciplines including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stone masonry.

The Persian Fine Arts

The Persian rug

The art of carpet weaving in Iran has its roots in the culture and customs of its people and their instinctive feelings. Weavers mix elegant patterns with a myriad of colors. The Iranian carpet is similar to the Persian garden: full of florae, birds, and beasts.

The colors are usually made from wild flowers, and are rich in colors such as burgundy, navy blue, and accents of ivory. The proto-fabric is often washed in tea to soften the texture, giving it a unique quality. Depending on where the rug is made, patterns and designs vary. And some rugs, such as Gabbeh, and Gelim have a variations in their textures and number of knots as well. Out of about 2 million Iranians who work in the trade, 1.2 million are weavers producing the largest amount of hand woven aritistic carpets in the world. Iran exported $517 million worth of carpets in 2002

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The exceptional craftsmenship in weaving these carpets and silken textile thus caught the attention of the likes of Xuanzang, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, and Jean Chardin.

Painting and miniature

Oriental historian [ Basil Gray] believes "Iran has offered a particularly unique [sic] art to the world which is excellent in its kind".

Caves in Iran's Lorestan province exhibit painted imagery of animals and hunting scenes. Some such as those in Fars Province and Sialk are at least 5,000 years old.

Painting in Iran is thought to have reached a climax during the Tamerlane era when outstanding masters such as Kamaleddin Behzad gave birth to a new style of painting.

Paintings of the Qajar period, are a combination of European influences and Safavid miniature schools of painting such as those introduced by Reza Abbasi. Masters such as Kamal-ol-molk, further pushed forward the European influence in Iran. It was during the Qajar era when "Coffee House painting" emerged. Subjects of this style were often religious in nature depicting scenes from Shia epics and the like.

Pottery and ceramics

Prominent archeologist Roman Ghirshman believes "the taste and talent of this people [Iranians] can be seen through the designs of their earthen wares".

Of the thousands of archeological sites and historic ruins of Iran, almost every single one can be found to have been filled, at some point, with earthenware of exceptional quality. Thousands of unique vessels alone were found in Sialk and Jiroft sites.

The occupation of the potter ("kuzeh gar") has a special place in Persian literature.


During the course of Iran's recorded history, a unique distinctive music developed accompanied by numerous musical instruments, several of which came to be the first prototypes of some modern musical instruments of today.

The earliest references to musicians in Iran are found in Susa and Elam in the 3rd millennium BC. Reliefs, sculptures, and mosaics such as those in Bishapur from periods of antiquity depict a vibrant musical culture.

Persian traditional music in its contemporary form has its inception in the Naseri era, who ordered the opening of a "House of Crafts", where all master craftsmen would gather for designing instruments and practicing their art.


Persian literature is by far the most stalwart expression of the Iranian genius. While there are interesting works in prose, it is poetry where the Iranian literature shines at its most. Flourishing over a period of more than a millennium, it was esteemed and imitated well beyond the confines of the Iranian homeland. The literature of Turkey and India developed under its influence.

some notable Iranian poets are: Rumi, Hafez, Saadi, Ferdowsi


The architecture of Iran is one with an exceedingly ancient tradition and heritage. As Arthur Pope put it, "the meaningful Impact of Persian architecture is versatile. Not overwhelming but dignified, magnificent and impressive".


Says writer Will Durant: "Ancient Iranians with an alphabet of 36 letters, used skins and pen to write, Instead of ear-then tablets". Such was the creativity spent on the art of writing. The significance of the art of calligraphy in works of pottery, metallic vessels, and historic buildings is such that they are deemed lacking without the adorning decorative calligraphy.

Illuminations, and especially the Quran and works such as the Shahnameh, Divan Hafez, Golestan, Bostan et al are recognized as highly invaluable because of their delicate calligraphy alone. Vast quantities of these are scattered and preserved in museums and private collections worldwide, such as the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and Washington's Freer Gallery of Art among many others.Styles:

* Shekasteh
* Nasta'liq


The tilework is a unique feature of the blue mosques of Isfahan. In the old days, Kashan ("kash" + "an" which literally means "land of tiles") and Tabriz were the two famous centers of Iranian mosaic and tile industry.


With 300 international awards in the past 25 years, films from Iran continue to be celebrated worldwide. Perhaps the best known director is Abbas Kiarostami or most recently come to fame is Dena Darvish Derakhshan.


Since centuries, Iranian art has developed particular patterns designed to decorate Iranian produced craft. These motifs can be :

* Inspired by ancestral nomad tribes (such as geometrical motifs used in kilims or gabbehs).
* Islam influenced, with an advanced geometrical research.
* Oriental based, also found in India or Pakistan.

Metalworks (Qalam-zani)


Delicate and meticulous marquetry, produced since the Safavide period: at this time, khatam was so popular in the court that princes learned this technique at the same level of music or painting. In the 18th and 19th centuries, katahm declined, before being stimulated under the Reign of Reza Shah, with the creation of craft schools in Tehran, Isfahan, and Chiraz. "Khatam" means "incrustation", and "Khatam-kari", "incrustation work". This craft consists in the production of incrustation patterns (generally star shaped), with thin sticks of wood (ebony, teak, ziziphus, orange, rose), brass (for golden parts), camel bones (white parts). Ivory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. Sticks are assembled in trinagular beams, themselves assembeled and glued in a strict order to create a 70cm diameter cylinder, which section is the main motif: a six-branch star included in a hexagon. These cylinders are cut into shorter cylinders, and then compressed and dried between two wooden plates, before being cut for the last time, in 1mm wide tranches. So this section is ready to be plated and glued on the object to be decorated, before lacquer finishing. The tranche can also be heaten to be soften to follow curves of a rounded object. Many objects can be so decorated, such as: boxes, chessboards, cadres, pipes, desks, frames or some musical instruments. Katham can be used on Persian miniature, realising true work of art.

Coming from techniques imported from China and improved by Persian know-how, this craft existed for more than 700 years and is still perennial in Isfahan and Chiraz.

Relief and sculpture

Relief carving has a history dating back thousands of years. Elamite reliefs are still to be found in Iran with Persepolis being a mecca of relief creations of antiquity.

Other handicrafts


ee also

*Qajar art
*Culture of Iran
*List of Persian painters
*Iranian modern and contemporary art


External links

* [ Iranian Artists and Persian Art Resource]
* [ Iran Arts and Entrtainment Directory]
* [ Iranian Contemporary and young blood Art Studio]
* [ Iranian art blog Pars Arts]

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