Change in Text and Art in Modern Iran

This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals


Joanna De Groot


Room 7
Wed, 2016-08-03 16:00 - 17:30


by Houri Berberian / California State University, Long Beach

In the short period between 1905 and 1911, the Middle East and Caucasus experienced three revolutions: the Russian, Iranian, and Ottoman. One of the key factors that helped shape and connect them was the circulation of revolutionaries – in the case of this paper, Armenians – arms, print, and ideas that crossed physical frontiers and in the case of ideas intellectual frontiers, too. Ideologies, like socialism, made their way from the South Caucasus and Western Europe to Iran and were adapted, adjusted, and altered according to political, social, and economic circumstances as well as cultural preferences. Early twentieth-century socialism not only came by various means, that is, through roving revolutionaries, workers, and print – all taking advantage of the technological component of what David Harvey calls “time-space compression,” or a “shrinking of the world” due to revolutions in technologies of communication and transportation” – but it also came in many varieties, was often loosely expressed, and commonly intersected with nationalism despite attempts by some to view it merely in its strictly Marxist sense. Armenian socialists in Iran and the Caucasus ran the gamut from the minority social democrats to the socialist-nationalist Dashnaks and everything in-between like the Hnchaks. What versions of socialism they espoused was for the most part due to changing local, regional, and global circumstances and needs as well as their relationship with the national question. Influences came not only from reading, translation, and disseminating ideas and revolutionary literature; it also involved face-to-face encounters, correspondence, and even collaboration between revolutionaries in Iran and the Caucasus on the one hand and European revolutionary thinkers in the other. Based on Dashnak archival documentation and Armenian-language contemporary European, Caucasian, Iranian, and Ottoman periodicals, this paper will explore the circulation and transformation of revolutionary ideas as they traversed across imperial frontiers as well as the vehicles through which they filtered into revolutionary thought, i.e., print. Thousands of copies of multilingual revolutionary periodicals made their way to the Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire from Europe and even the United States often through Iran or originated in the Caucasus and travelled west and south. They are significant in tracing perceptions of and approaches to revolution and ideologies. They served to inform, enlighten, and propagate. Armenian revolutionaries in Iran and the Caucasus were very much aware of the motivational and propagandistic effect of print, as they invested much energy and time in seeing to their publication, circulation, and dissemination.

by Siamak Delzendeh / Independent Scholar

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Iran witnesssed dramatic shifts in dominant political and cultural discourses due to omnipresence of the exhibitionary order and hegemony of Orientalism. Subsequently, traditions of image production were strongly influenced by these changes. This thread culminated in a shift in royal portrait painting, as well as other genres of imagery. I begin this essay by examining different paintings by prominent court artists of the Qajar dynasty (1786-1925), such as Kamal-al-Molk (ca. 1859–1940) and Mahmoud Khan Malek-al-Shoara (1813-1893), and through comparisons based on a material culture approach, I will raise questions on the organization of symbols and signs in these paintings. In the second part of the presentation, I will analyse these works through iconoligy and semiotic methods. The third level of each analysis underlines an epistemological shift, which influenced the symbolic order of royal imagery through the Qajar dynasty to the Pahlavi era (1925-1979). My arguments are mainly based on the way Kamal-al-Molk has framed royal signs in his painting, Talar-e Ayeneh (Mirror Hall) (1890-95). I will also argue that this particular painting demonstrates that epistemological shift mentioned above. The impact of Orientalism and the new order of representaion influenced by it are inevitable factors in the formation of a new dominant cultural discourse which reduces visual artistic practices to an exhibitionary situation. Drawing on some post-colonial texts, I will argue that this new order of representation that emerged and developed during the course of the nineteenth century Europe proceeded boundaries of Europe and became influential in reframing “Persian Art” as authentic, original, decorative and old but not modern at all. Based on such notions, Arthur Upham Pope tried to formulate the essence of “Persian Art” by means of a formalist theory. Furthermore, I will show how this led to revitalization of miniature painting from 1930s onward, and also how such formulations of Iranian artistic heritage formed an exclusively new modern pictorial language after 1945.

by Ali Boozari / Art University

نسخۀ خطی و مصور هزار و یک شب، محفوظ در کاخ گلستان، واپسین نسخۀ خطی مصور فارسی در سطح درباری و یکی از
فاخرترین آنهاست که در دورۀ قاجار تدوین شده است. این نسخه به مدیریت هنری ابوالحسن غفاری )د. 7237ق./ 7393م.(،
ملقب به صنیعالملک، و همکاری سی و چهار هنرمند نگارگر، مذهب، جلدساز و صحاف در طی هفت سال )7239-7296ق./
7395-7307م.( به انجام رسیده است. گر چه نام برخی از هنرمندان فعال در این پروژه، مانند جلدساز و کاتب و صحاف، بر ما
معلوم است، ولی نام نگارگران آن همواره در زیر سایۀ سنگین نام صنیع الملک، نقاش باشی دربار ناصری، پنهان مانده است.
این پژوهش براساس این فرضیه شکل گرفته است که نگارگران ناشناس نسخۀ خطی هزار و یک شب، از میان هنرمندان
برجستۀ دیگر رشتههای هنری، خاصه تصویرگری کتب چاپ سنگی، برگزیده شده بودند و اگر در این نسخه نامی از آنها
نیست، میتوان، براساس شباهتهای ساختاری میان تصاویر چاپ سنگی و نگارههای نسخۀ خطی فوق، نام و نشان آنها را
یافت. این پژوهش از طریق روش توصیفی- تحلیلی و مطابقت برخی نگارههای نسخۀ خطی هزار و یک شب با تصاویر چاپ
سنگی کتاب رموز حمزه )چاپ 7231ق./ 7303م.( در پی یافتن پاسخ این سؤال است که آیا تصویرگر کتاب چاپ سنگی رموز
حمزه میتواند یکی از نگارگران گمنام این نسخه باشد یا خیر.
برای این پژوهش، حدود دوازده هزار تصویر چاپ سنگی مورد بررسی قرار گرفته و در نهایت سه تصویر از کتاب رموز حمزه
)7231ق./ 7303م.(، اثر میرزا حسن بن آقا سید میرزای اصفهانی و سه نگاره از نسخۀ هزار و یک شب، از میان بیش از سه
هزار نگاره نسخۀ خطی هزار و یک شب، برای این پژوهش انتخاب شده است.
شباهتها در ساختار بصری و طراحی تصاویر چاپ سنگی منتخب کتاب رموز حمزه و نگارههای منتخب نسخۀ خطی هزار و
یک شب، این نظریه را تقویت میکند که میرزا حسن بن آقا سید میرزای اصفهانی یکی از نگارگران نسخۀ خطی هزار و یک
شب بوده است.