Libmonster ID: SE-381
Author(s) of the publication: G. V. LASIKOVA
Educational Institution \ Organization: State Museum of Oriental Arts

What do we know about figurative fabrics other than that Iranian weavers imitated the miniaturists of their era? Since the 1930s, it has been generally accepted that compositions of precious fabrics have repeated the miniature with more or less success The only problem is to determine the source of copying and the degree of processing by the master weaver. However, is everything so simple in Safavid art?

The first appearance of human images on clothing in Iran dates back to the Parthian period (III century BC - III century AD).The tradition was actively developed under the Sassanids (III-VII centuries). During this era, fabrics were created depicting the hunting feat of Prince Bahram-Gur in a symmetrical heraldic composition in round medallions, characteristic of all Sasanian art. The production of such fabrics continued for some time after the Arab conquest (VII century), but gradually fell into disrepair.

The return to clothing of the pattern with the image of a person occurred only in the XVI century, after several centuries of oblivion. At the same time, the art of weavers reached unprecedented heights. The compositions lost their former stiffness, heraldic immobility. Now the action was transmitted to the fabric with a lot of details and minor details. The medallion formation gave way to a continuous rhythm of fluctuating movement. The illusory nature of the drawing replaced the schematic convention of the Sasanian figures. The range of subjects used has greatly expanded.

Traditionally, one of the most conservative and inert crafts in its development - textile production-suddenly began to demonstrate incredible mobility. Weavers began to master new patterns, instantly following modern artistic achievements. And all this despite the fact that the location of the main weaving centers that emerged in the medieval era, such as Yazd and Kashan, did not coincide with the capitals of this time. The Safavid rulers created a well-established production system: court artists created patterns for patterned fabrics, which were then sent to the shah's karkhans (weaving workshops) in central Iran. Thus, the refined style of the capitals - Te Briz, Qazvin and Isfahan-was enriched by the skill of artisans who knew the secrets of technology and preserved the ancient traditions of weaving.

There is no doubt that the Safavid rulers showed great interest in creating story fabrics. The use of only the most expensive materials in their manufacture-silk and gold threads (spun with silver or gold wire) - made it impossible for the production of such products to go beyond the Shah's karkhans and limited the range of fabrics with figurative images to the Shah's yard. Two types of products have been preserved

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from the subject fabrics - these are ceremonial robes for horse trips of the second half of the XVI - first quarter of the XVII century. and wall hangings, mostly related to the final period of the development of plot weaving in the second third of the XVII century.

The heyday of subject images in textiles lasted only about a century, ending after the 1660s. Attempts to produce fabrics with this pattern in subsequent epochs were random and far behind early Safavid standards.

Until now, there is no answer to the question of why these fabrics appeared in Shah's everyday life in the middle of the XVI century, and already in the XVII century almost completely disappeared from Safavid art. Figurative images are found in various types of Iranian applied art of the Muslim period from the middle of the XII century. In the XIII-XIV centuries, there was a rise in book miniatures. However, for the appearance of plot fabrics, it was necessary to create the very idea of transferring a miniature plot to clothing. This manipulation, like everything else in the Muslim consciousness, had to have an ideological justification that would either precede it or confirm its legitimacy later, and would secure a certain place in the culture for the plot fabrics. Only by identifying the principle of operation of this mechanism can we explain the phenomenon of the emergence of plot fabrics in this era.

Contemporaries attest that by 1545, Shah Tahmasb I, who was a generous patron of miniaturists and calligraphers, had ceased to be interested in art and was completely absorbed in administrative and state concerns .2 And shortly before the transfer of the capital from Tabriz to Qazvin in 1548, he completely disbanded his court kitabkhane (workshop for creating and illustrating books), " ... in the end, because due to the abundance of [state] affairs, he could not find more time for this occupation, and besides, the mentioned masters stopped mixing colors His Majesty was already less concerned with the task of portraying life in the image of being. Those of the kitabhan who were still alive, he dismissed to work on their own. " 3 "Probably the leading masters of the disbanded kitabhane... we went to the new capital and, of course, continued to work there in our usual manner and traditional style... By this... it is possible to explain the appearance in Qazvin of excellent miniatures made within the framework of the canon of the Tabriz school. " 4 O. F. Akimushkin suggested that the dissolution of kitabkhane was caused by dissatisfaction with the outdated style of Tabriz miniatures, while the art of young masters from Qazvin was more in line with the shah's tastes. However, nothing is known about the creation of a new court kitabkhana in Qazvin. This can only mean that the reason was not in the style of miniatures, but in the organization itself, the content of which no longer meets the needs of the shah's court.

Following the dissolution of the court kitabhane, there is a grandiose surge in plot weaving in the third quarter of the XVI century. The earliest group of fabrics with figurative images dates back to this time. A characteristic feature of most of them is the obvious connection with the style of the Tabriz school. It is quite likely that artists who were released from working in a painting studio were given the opportunity to create textile design. In addition, the organization of the Shah's karkhane could hardly be much different from the kitabkhane, which made it easier for the elderly, honored miniaturists, whose skills were necessary for creating story fabrics, to join it.

With what did the Shah's miniaturists come to a new kind of art? In the book manuscripts of the first Safavids, a very complex system was developed to convey in illustration not only the literal meaning of the text, but also its hidden meanings, accessible to the understanding of Sufis. In addition to expressing generally significant Sufi content, the organizer of the court kitabhaneh, Shah Ismail, " ... put is-

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for the majority of book miniatures, tasks of a more specific political nature that met the urgent needs of the dynasty. The method used by the artists was that similar subjects from the illustrated literary work were selected for significant events in the life of the Safavid court. The image included all sorts of allegories, symbols, and allegories that point to a specific event that happened to the Safavid ruler. " 5 Thus, with the help of book illustrations, the literary plot was given an actual political sound, becoming part of the ideology. In connection with the transfer of subjects to precious fabrics, such a strategy for constructing visual images received additional opportunities to influence the viewer.

It can be assumed that the book miniature, intended for intimate contemplation, did not fully satisfy the needs of the Safavids in the effective dissemination of ideas on which the charisma of the Shahs of the ruling dynasty was built. Therefore, the techniques developed in the illustration were transferred to the ceremonial shah's robes, where they were available for maximum viewing during court ceremonies, and were also endowed with additional attributes of the shah's power. Since the time of the Sassanids, the ceremonial robe was as much an attribute of the ruler as the throne or crown, and its granting meant extending the Shah's patronage to the person to whom it was awarded. Classical poetry is filled with motifs of the shah rewarding his subjects for faithful service or exchanging gifts between two rulers, when the robe was a particularly celebrated and honorable gift.

Subjects placed on the robe had to be strictly selected. Even a cursory glance at the material reveals that instead of hundreds of miniature scenes on Safavid fabrics, there are about two dozen compositions 6: captivity scenes; a cupbearer drinking wine; a falconer with a falcon; Majnun and Layla (?);

Khosrow sees Shirin bathing in a spring; beautiful young men; beautiful girls; a holiday; hunting; a hero fighting a serpent; a friendly meal; playing music, listening to music; love, wine, enjoying art; Farhad cutting a channel in the rocks to Shirin's castle; The Holy Family; fishing; navigation; a young man and a dervish; conversation a rider with a man on foot.

The analysis of this list makes you think about what was already generally accepted and as if no one had any doubts, namely, copying a woven pattern from miniatures. A careful comparison of the images with the miniature reveals that only a few of them have obvious prototypes in Safavid painting. The vast majority of images can only be related to the style of a particular miniaturist. It would seem that imitation involves repeating the most stable and widespread compositions, but more than 100 years of searching in this direction have not given researchers the desired result.

Even in cases where the story is considered well-known, this confidence often turns out to be a tribute to the research tradition, which is not supported by actual understanding. A typical example of errors of this kind is represented by fabrics with the image of the hero's battle with the serpent placed on them. Following the attribution of the 1930s American researcher Phyllis Ackerman, 7 art historians until the 1980s defined this story as Iskander's battle with a dragon, illustrating the corresponding scene from Firdowsi's Shah Nameh. Only when compiling the catalog of the Washington Textile Museum, K. Beer noted that the winners of the dragons were also other heroes of "Shah-nameh". However, in none of the illustrated episodes known to her, the hero did not resort to the help of a cobblestone in battle, while for images on fabrics, this is one of the structure-forming elements of the composition 8 .

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In fact, in classical Persian literature, there is a single plot that closely matches the image in textiles. This is the myth quoted by Firdowsi at the beginning of the Shah Nameh, describing the establishment of the jashn-i sad ritual by King Khushang: the legendary ruler of Iran went to the mountains, a black Serpent crawled out to meet him, Khushang quickly threw a stone at him; The serpent crawled away, but the stone hit the rock and struck a flame; this was the first fire lit The Khushang established a festival in honor of this, commanding his subjects to worship the divine fire.

According to Sh. M. Shukurov, the garden ritual is the inner meaning of the entire narrative of "Shah-nameh". Ferdowsi's poem is conceived and implemented as a poetic realization of this ancient Iranian royal ritual and the corresponding myth of the king's struggle with the Serpent. This initial episode became the archetype for all the subsequent events of the epic story. Each subsequent hero reproduces the feat of King Khushang and triumphs over the newly incarnated world evil 9 . It is particularly noteworthy that during Firdowsi, which was originally a Zoroastrian ritual, jashn-i sada was understood by Muslims exclusively as a royal ancestor .10 The semantic emphasis shifted from the ritual of worshipping the divine fire to the myth of the tsar's feat.

However, by the time the tradition of illustrating the "Shah-nama" was formed, the meaning of Khushang's feat as the original one in relation to all others was lost. This is evidenced by the fact that a single miniature depicting this episode, dating back to the beginning of the XIV century, has been preserved.11 Neither before nor after it have any illustrations of the myth been recorded.

All the more surprising is the phenomenon that we encounter in the lampas pattern of the Iranian kaftan of the third quarter of the XVI century, stored in the Moscow Armory 12 - there was a complete restoration of the original meaning of the plot. From all possible images of fighting with a snake, an archetypal situation was chosen to decorate the ceremonial caftan. A hero in a Kyzylbash headdress lifts a stone over a snake. The only discrepancy with Firdowsi's text is the use of color. The fire-breathing dragon, whose design is reminiscent of Chinese influences, instead of remaining black, changes color from rapport to rapport.

The designer seems to be depicting not the same episode, but a situation that repeats itself over and over again. Evil, each time embodied in a new guise, constantly requires the intervention of the hero. The infinity of this struggle is emphasized by the choice of the moment depicted - the hero has not yet won, the serpent has not disappeared, the holiday has not begun. The action takes place at the very beginning, when a person stands in the middle between good and evil, under him - a dragon, above him - a phoenix bird, identified with the Simurgh of ancient Iranian tradition. The hero takes a decisive step from the rock associated with the low beginning of the serpent, to the tree of the divine bird. There is no doubt that the ancient meaning of the image was realized by both the author of the drawing and the customer and corresponded to the purpose of the caftan. The Safavid ruler, dressed in it, was symbolically included in the series of ancient Persian kings and represented the guarantor of the triumph of the forces of good and light in the fight against evil. It remains a mystery how the motif, forgotten by the sixteenth century and not found in miniature, came to be re-created.

One thing is clear, as in many other cases, this story did not appear on the fabric as a result of imitating a miniature. The relationship between miniatures, text, and textile patterns is much more complex here. The text is primary. The basis for placing a literary plot on a precious fabric was its understanding as significant for the customer. The presence in miniature of a ready-made composition for this subject undoubtedly facilitated the tasks of the textile pattern compilers. If the necessary illustrations were not available, they were re-created by the artist.-

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the person who made the sketch for the fabric, in accordance with the canons of creating miniature images.

So, we can talk about borrowing from the miniature the basic rules for constructing artistic images developed in the court kitabkhana of Ismail I, and then Tahmasb I. The hypothesis of the existence in miniature of samples from which patterns for Safavid fabrics were copied is confirmed only in a few special cases. It is not correct to extend them to the entire volume of Safavid tissues. Although the sketches for the first story fabrics were created by natives of the court kitabkhane, they cannot be regarded as a copy type of creativity. Artists always built a unique composition, giving it new nuances of meaning, very soon developing their own techniques and strategies for images in textiles, the specifics of which were dictated by the purpose of the pattern for placing on the ceremonial clothes of the Safavids.

Freed from the illusions about the simplicity of constructing images on precious fabrics, it is very interesting to consider them as an independent type of artistic creation and study the plots in connection with the ideology of the Safavid era. This can significantly enrich our knowledge about the peculiarities of the state ideology of that time, and provide answers to many questions that cannot be interpreted from other sources.


1 This hypothesis is most fully presented by Phyllis Ackerman: Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. L. - N.Y., 1938-1939. V. 3.

Gray V. 2 La Peinture Persane. Geneve, 1977. P. 136.

Iskander-bek munshi Turkman. 3 Tarikh-e alam arai-e Abbasi (Mirukrash Abbasov's story). Tehran. 1333/1954. Vol. 1. P. 174. Cit. according to: Akimushkin O. F. On the court kitabkhana of Safavid Tahmasb I in Tabriz / / Medieval East. Moscow, 1980. P. 14.

Akimushkin O. F. 4 Decree. op. P. 14.

Nazarli M. D. 5 Genesis of the "royal spirit" in Safavid painting // Aesthetics of Being and Aesthetics of Text in the cultures of the Medieval East, Moscow, 1995, p. 151.

6 The names of images in this list are conditional.

7 Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. Tokyo, 1964-1965. V. 5. P. 2090.

Bier С. 8 Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Quadjar Iran, 16-19 с. Washington D.C., 1987. P. 199.

Shukurov sh. M. 9 the Art of medieval Iran: the formation of the principles of depiction. M., 1989. S. 67-69.

Shukurov Sh. M. 10" Shah-nameh " by Firdousi and the early illustrative tradition, Moscow, 1983, p. 60.

11 is preserved in the Chester Beatty Collection in Dublin. Not published.

12 See: Antiquities of the Russian State, Moscow, 1854, Ed. IV. Fig. 19; Martin F. R. The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and Turkey from the 8th to the 18th Century. L " 1912. V. 1. PI. 152; Sobolev N. N. Essays on the history of fabric decoration, Moscow, 1934. Fig. 72; Levinson-Nechaeva M. N. Clothing and fabrics of the XVI-XVII centuries. Collection of scientific works based on the materials of the State Armory Chamber, Moscow, 1954, pp. 344, 345. Fig. 21, 22; Armory Chamber, Moscow, 1964, pp. 209. Fig.; Weimarn B. V. Iskusstvo arabnykh stran i Irana VII-XVII vv. Moscow, 1974, Fig. 207, 208.


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