Persian art refers to a variety of art forms including architecture, painting, pottery, weaving and sculpture which are practised in what is today Iran since the dawn of the civilisation. The rich tradition has been preserved to the present day although contemporary Iranian art also reflects the influence of the later Islamic tradition and international art styles.
Carpet waving is without a doubt one of the most recognisable and internationally admired forms of Persian art and culture. With its beginnings dating back to ancient Persia, Iranian carpet waving was over the following centuries developed into one of the best ones in the world. Each year, over 1 million weavers supply as much as one third of the world’s market, hand-waving carpets in a value of about 0.5 billion dollars.
Persian Painting and Miniature
Persian painting draws its roots from ancient Persia as well. But it also draws inspiration from the classical Persian miniature and more recent styles such as the so-called Tea House style painting and of course, international styles.
Persian miniature is one of the most important Persian art forms. It began to be practised by Iranian artists in the 13th century when the art of miniature painting was introduced to the country by the Mongols. By the 15th and 16 century, a distinct Persian miniature emerged which has profoundly influenced miniature painting in other Islamic traditions, most notably the Ottoman and Mughal miniatures.
Khatam-kari refers to the art of making a Khatam which is a Persian form of marquetry, an art form which is characterised by using pieces of wood, metal, bone and other materials to decorate wood products. It is practised by Iranian artists since the Safavid period (1501-1736) when Khatam-kari was so popular that even the Safavid princes were learning it. The art form declined after the downfall of the Safavid dynasty in the 18th century but it was revived during the reign of Reza Shah (1925-1941). Today, the leading centres of Khatam-kari are Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan.
Mina-kari is similar to Khatam-kari but instead decorating wood products, it involves decorating metals and enamel working by using coloured coats which are backed onto the metal in a furnace. This art form has been practised in Iran since the time of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE) but unfortunately, not many ancient examples survived due to their delicacy.