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The Earth Scything Its Way Across the Persian Landscape
Persian Miniature Painting

The following images were part of an exhibition of Persian miniature paintings organized in 2005 by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Dating from as early as the 14th century to the 17th century, during the Timurid and Safavid eras, they illustrate scenes not only from the Qur'an and One Thousand and One Nights but also from the Persian literary masterpiece The King's Chronicles by Ferdowsi and the poems of Saadi.

All the miniatures, nearly 300 in total, were available for viewing online during and after the exhibition. Unfortunately, they're now offline, a kind of redaction that we can't help but relate to the total erasure of our entire image archive. With (almost) full restoration of our pretty decorations, we thought we'd post some of the firewalled paintings as a complementary resurrection.

Today being 10/10/10, we're posting 10+10+10.

Persian Miniature Painting

With so many to choose from, we had to limit our picks to miniatures containing our favorite detail: the highly stylized representation of geology. In many of these paintings, they look like earth-tsunamis scything across the landscape, ferrying invading armies towards their enemies or laying siege on cities like weaponized mountains. Seemingly solid walls quiver in anticipation of these incoming tactical landslides.

Frothy with rocks and boulders, bejeweled with vegetation, sinuous and frenetic like the flames of a campfire, they provide shelter for game from royal hunters. Fantastical beasts inhabit its restless land-waves, and within its calmer precincts, sleeping heroes and quarantined sages, all the while organizing the spatial and temporal structure of the narrative.

Interspersed between these images are a couple of beautiful portraits, some interior scenes and a lion-eating horse. And there are a few more here.

Enjoy!

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

Persian Miniature Painting

13 COMMENTS —
  • Dan Hill
  • October 14, 2010 at 8:02:00 AM CDT
  • These are beautiful.


  • Anonymous
  • October 14, 2010 at 9:35:00 PM CDT
  • Fantastic. Thanks for sharing


  • Miljø
  • October 15, 2010 at 7:30:00 PM CDT
  • The mix between plan section and perspective in the same painting is really interesting


  • Nauplion
  • October 24, 2010 at 3:16:00 AM CDT
  • Stunning pictures, but it would have been nice to have some identification of each.


  • Alexander Trevi
  • October 24, 2010 at 1:18:00 PM CDT
  • Nauplion: I'm actually working on the labels, and will update the post soon.


  • ~Marcus K.
  • October 28, 2010 at 11:09:00 AM CDT
  • I like this pieces. In a way, they are simple, yet they remain ornate and exquisite. Good stuff.


  • Kate
  • October 31, 2010 at 1:42:00 PM CDT
  • I found your site from Blogs of Note. I love it. I’m going to poke around a little bit, but don’t worry I’ll put everything back where I found it!!


  • moon
  • November 1, 2010 at 3:33:00 PM CDT
  • wow
    these are
    wonderful!
    it looks as if the artists who made them knew the middle - age tradition of illuminated texts, and there is influence of middle age way of depicting landscape


  • ruthteitelbaum
  • January 7, 2011 at 12:33:00 AM CST
  • Thanks. Hard to find good quality images of these miniatures.


  • Piper O'Sullivan
  • June 6, 2012 at 9:59:00 PM CDT
  • Thanks for sharing these! a visual feast!


  • LilaDevi
  • June 29, 2013 at 11:23:00 AM CDT
  • truly amazing!!! thank you
    Layla


  • Anonymous
  • June 19, 2016 at 11:49:00 AM CDT
  • Thanks for posting these. Wonderful imagery... but it would have been better if you had credited the artists and given some explanation of the subject matter.


  • Alexander Trevi
  • June 19, 2016 at 2:30:00 PM CDT
  • To Anonymous (June 19, 2016 at 11:49:00 AM CDT):

    One of my Pruned regrets is that I haven't come around to adding the labels, something that I was always anal about. In fact, I had all the labels prepared!! Can you believe it?! But somehow didn't get around to updating this post...perhaps because, since I wanted to do it right, I wanted first to figure out how to label a work of art in a formal way...but then, I don't really know. It's been over half a decade already. I don't even know where to start looking where I saved the doc w/ those labels. And I'm not sure the museum website is accessible anymore.

    BUT I WILL!

    And if I forget, keep hassling me to do it!


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