The Earth Scything Its Way Across the Persian Landscape
Sunday, October 10, 2010
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.
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.