Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide to the Visual Poetry
Introductionpage 1page 2page 3Persian Poetry and Paintingpage 1page 2rizaingpage 1page 2Persian Poetry and Paintingpage 1page 2
Persian Poetry and Painting
Poetry, not prose, has been the preferred form of literary expression in Iran. Governed by specific meter, rhyme, and line number, Persian poetry is particularly notable for its evocative imagery and metaphors. Rooted in medieval court culture, it includes many references to precious metals, luxurious fabrics, and fragrant scents. Nature, however, offers the most enduring source of inspiration and was often used to conjure up human beauty: The face was compared to a full moon, the eyes to narcissi, and the slender figure to a swaying cypress. As there is no differentiation in the gender or case of pronouns in the Persian language, the same word is used for "he, she, him, her," introducing an intentional level of ambiguity. The subjects of Safavid single-page compositions are also often androgynous in their appearance, and both men and women are portrayed with similar conventionalized traits: almond-shaped eyes, a budlike mouth, or dark ringlets of hair.
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Two Safavid Princes
Two Safavid Princes
Attributed to Aqa Mirak
Iran, Tabriz, ca. 1535
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
37.0 x 25.5 cm (14 9/16 x 10 1/16 in.)
Lent by The Art and History Trust   LTS1995.2.51

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