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Persian Miniature: Iranian painting

Persian Miniature: Iranian painting

Persian miniature is one of the most amazing and oldest Iranian arts. Take Isfahan Day Tour and learn about this art.

December 3, 2020

Miniature painting is one of the most famous arts in Iran. It is difficult to trace the origins of the art of the Persian miniature, but it reached its peak mainly during the Mongol and Timurid periods (13th to 16th century). The most important function of miniature painting was illustration. It gave a visual image to the literary stories and poetry books such as Shahnameh (the book of kings) of Ferdowsi. Camel's bone is the main material to do this painting on it and of course, they paint on paper as well. In the olden time, ivory was used for this special kind of painting. There were four main schools of miniature in Iran, Herat School, Tabriz School, Shiraz School, and from the 17th century, Isfahan School.

Persian miniature

The flourishing period of the Persian miniature in Shiraz was the 14th century when the city witnessed a new rise in the development of its cultural life. This was the time of Saadi, Khajoo Kermani, and Hafez. Poetry and literature flourished so did miniature painting. In this period, some well-known artists moved to Shiraz from Samarqand and Heart, therefore, Shiraz school gained much more maturity to the extent that by the end of the 15th Century it was producing miniatures of the highest quality.

Tabriz school of art was established at the end of the 13th century and its illustrations tended to combine Far Eastern characters with the Byzantine style of painting. In Tabriz School, there was an emphasis on architecture and landscape and figures were painted livelier and more natural.

In the 15th century, the miniature school of Herat was established and many of the best artists from Shiraz and Tabriz moved there.  Herat miniatures figure painting became much more skillful and drawing gained greater accuracy. As the skill of the painters increased, the figures were placed more confidently and the rhythmic structure of the composition became more complicated.


Persian miniature

After Isfahan was selected as the capital of Iran by the order of King Abbas I, as the art and architecture were blooming there the Isfahan miniature school was established. Therefore, artists from Herat, Tabriz, and former Safavid capital city Qazvin moved to Isfahan. In this period, the mural became popular as well and the Safavid palaces were adorned with them. The characteristics of Isfahan's style can be summarized in less use of colors and simple backgrounds containing some foliage and linear drawings as well as some clouds without coloring. And there were mainly love scenes, portraits, and some even copied European pictures in Isfahan style.

Persian miniature

Later during the Qajar Period in 18th and 19th centuries , there appeared a new genre of painting named "Flowers and Birds", which was used for ornamenting monuments, jewelry boxes, and books espicially in Shiraz.

Persian miniature

Today, Persian miniature is still considered as an important art in Iran and many artists are busy with creating eye-catching pieces of miniature especially in the city of Isfahan, known as the city of handicrafts. Travel to Isfahan and learn about Persian miniature and related arts on a private and guided Isfahan City Day Tour.

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