Iranian miniature painting titled Lovers by artist Afzal Al-Husseini Photo: courtesy Shanghai Art Collection Museum
Persian treasure, an art exhibition featuring exquisite Iranian miniature paintings that bear similarities to Chinese fine brush painting, also known as “Gongbi” drawing, was recently launched in Shanghai to celebrate the establishment’s 50th anniversary diplomatic relations between China and Iran.
Miniature painting is an artistic heritage that has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. What some people may not know is that this art form was inspired by Chinese art.
âIt bears similarities to Chinese fine brush painting, especially after the 13th century when the art form was heavily influenced by China. The painting style gradually became different from that of other Islamic countries. as they started to absorb some methods of Chinese painting and pay attention to brush movement and landscape paintings with Chinese characteristics, âsaid Zhang, an art insider who worked on the exhibition, to the Global Times.
The exhibition at the Shanghai Art Collection Museum celebrates the long-standing cultural exchanges between China and Iran and also marks 50 years of friendship between the two countries.
âWe can say that the period following the Tang Dynasty (618-907) was an important period for Sino-Iranian cultural exchanges. During this period, many Chinese scholars, officials and artisans traveled to Iran with the Mongol rulers, bringing the unique culture there, âZhang added.
The exhibition brings together over 100 miniature paintings that address subjects such as Persian folklore and poetry, loved and appreciated by Persians for thousands of years.
Highlights of the exhibition include a miniature painting titled Lovers by artist Afzal Al-Husseini, often called the last great master of Persian miniature paintings. It represents a woman burning “love marks” on the arm of her lover. At the time, these marks were a sign of affection.
The two figures, symbolizing the passion for life, emerge from the golden foliage in the background to show a poetic interpretation of people’s daily lives. Painting was a great inspiration for Persian miniature paintings.
Various miniature calligraphy works of Iranian poems are also on display at the exhibition, taking the audience back to the “Persian Renaissance” from the 11th to 15th centuries, often considered the golden age of Persian poetry.
Although the origins of Persian miniature paintings remain to be explored, they were commonly used as illustrations in books. In Chinese, it is called painting “Ximi”, which means “delicate and dense”, referring to the characteristic style of the art form.