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One Thousand and One Persian Landscapes
A few months ago, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art mounted a spectacular exhibition on Persian manuscript painting. Fortunately, digital facsimiles of the miniatures and folios are still available online.

Here are some of my favorites, starting with this twice-walled Edenic garden floating amidst an orange vegetal sea.

Persian manuscript paintings

And here are some weirdly kinetic fortification walls.

Persian manuscript paintings

The swirling vortex of extruded geology. The stage for a battle scene or a weaponized terrestrial tsunami?

Persian manuscript paintings

One wonders if 16th century Persian painters understood the physics of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, since they undoubtedly display a mastery of the multi-temporal and the multi-spatial in this miniature.

Persian manuscript paintings

And one wonders, too, if they also understood the peculiarities of tectonics, as the following two miniatures obviously portray the billion-year process of mountain making.

Persian manuscript paintings

Persian manuscript paintings

Persian manuscript paintings

This, of the ascension of Prophet Mohammad, is beyond compare.

Persian manuscript paintings

This is absolutely beautiful!

Persian manuscript paintings

And this!

Persian manuscript paintings

And this!

Persian manuscript paintings

One detail I quite like is the animal leaping off the landscape. Perhaps the landscape continues on in the next page, but I like to think that it is trying to escape off the miniature and off the page and even off the book altogether into the white voidscape of our digital webpage, into the safe precincts of Pruned.

In any case, all these miniatures are mind-bogglingly gorgeous!

Persian manuscript paintings

Persian manuscript paintings

Persian manuscript paintings

Persian manuscript paintings

Although this last folio depicts an ascetic man in self-exile inside an arboreal cave, it nevertheless reminds me of one of the more erotic poems by Foroogh Farrokhzaad, Iran's greatest 20th century poet. Below in full is a translation by David Martin of the poem.

in my small night, what mounting
regret!
wind has a rendezvous with the trees'
leaves
in my small night, there is terror
of desolation

listen! do you hear
the wind of darkness howling?
I watch breathless
-ly and wondrously this alien happiness
I am addicted to my own hopelessness
listen! listen well!
can you hear the darkness
howling? -- the dark hell
-wind scything
its way towards us?

in the night now, there is something
passing
the moon is red restless and uneasy
and on this roof -- which fears
any moment
-- it may cave in --
clouds like crowds of mourners
await to break in rain
ruin
a moment
and then after that, nothing.
behind this window, night shivers
and the earth stands still
behind this window an unknown
something fears for me and you
O you who are green from head to toe!
put your hands
-- like a burning
memory into my loving hands --
lover's hands!
entrust your lips -- your lips
like a warm sense of being! --
entrust! -- your lips to the caresses of my
-- loving lips -- lover's lips!
the wind will carry us with it
the wind will carry us with it



The Earth Scything Its Way Across the Persian Landscape
7 COMMENTS —
  • Anonymous
  • October 31, 2006 at 2:42:00 AM CST
  • Amazing. Gorgeous. Thanx for the link.


  • Anonymous
  • October 31, 2006 at 11:16:00 AM CST
  • amazing use of color!
    awesome.


  • Anonymous
  • November 1, 2006 at 10:07:00 AM CST
  • fantastic. thanks for sharing it with us :)


  • Anonymous
  • November 2, 2006 at 11:48:00 PM CST
  • XGREAT ART, COLOR FULL OF LIFE AND SENSIBLE TO THE LIGTH. IT IS A JOY TO BE ABLE TO SEE THEM.


  • Fatimah
  • October 5, 2008 at 8:44:00 AM CDT
  • I love them,It's very rare beauty
    I like the miniatures of islamic very much,but in china there haven't material about this .And i want to know that all this picture have you make over it's contrast ?


  • Anonymous
  • March 27, 2009 at 12:50:00 PM CDT
  • These miniatures are painted with light, a reflection of the Light. Islamic soul is a bounty of beauty.

    Thank you for sharing with us.

    Murad from Skikda, Algeria.


  • Anonymous
  • August 27, 2009 at 4:20:00 PM CDT
  • Thank you for the link.
    These are intricate and beautiful images.
    Much appreciated.
    Angela


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