Persian art and architecture demonstrate a 5,000 year-old cultural tradition shaped by the diverse cultures that have grown on the vast Iranian plateau. Throughout its development, Persian artist achievement has normally been imperial in nature.
With impressive glorious monuments or associated with royal patronage in book illustration. Countless painters, weaving, potters, calligraphers, metalworkers, stone masons etc. have produced some of the most beautiful works ever created, and contributed to the Persian artistic heritage that is khown throughout the world.
Persian carpets and rugs of various types were woven in parallel by nomadic tribes, in village and town workshops, and by royal court manufactures alike. As such, they represent different, simultaneous lines of tradition, and reflect the history of Iran and its various peoples. The carpets woven in the Safavid court manufactures of Isfahan during the sixteenth century are famous for their elaborate colors and artistical design, and are treasured in museums and private collections all over the world today. Their patterns and designs have set an artistic tradition for court manufactures which was kept alive during the entire duration of the Persian Empire up to the last royal dynasty of Iran.
Carpets woven in towns and regional centers like Tabriz, Kerman, Mashhad, Kashan, Isfahan, Nain and Qom are characterized by their specific weaving techniques and use of high-quality materials, colors and patterns.
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: Ferdowsi, Khayyam, Hafiz, Attar, Sa’di, Nizami, Sanai, Rudaki, Rumi, Jami, and Shahriar.
The architecture of Iran is one with an exceedingly ancient Persian tradition and heritage. As Arthur Pope put it, “the meaningful Impact of Persian architecture is versatile. Not overwhelming but dignified, magnificent and impressive”.
The tradition and style in the garden design of Persian gardens (Persian باغ ایرانی) as Persian Art has influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. The gardens of the Alhambra show the influence of Persian Paradise garden philosophy and style in a Moorish Palace scale from the era of Al-Andalus in Spain. The Taj Mahal is one of the largest Persian Garden interpretations in the world, from the era of the Mughal Empire in India.
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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 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.
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.
Shekasteh, Nasta’liq, Naskh, Mohaqqaq are some of the Styles of Iran Calligraphy.
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.
Iranian Painting and miniature
Oriental historian Basil Gray believes has offered a particularly unique 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 Silk 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.
This Persian art has been used in a lot of historical Persian and Islamic architectures such as different cities’ mosques. The patterns are based on precise geometrical motifs.