This panel is the art historical companion to the literature panel “Wonders of the Word: Duality and Dichotomy in the Enchanted World of Epic Storytelling.” It explores the visual aspect of the supernatural world in the Qur’an, the Shahnameh, Hamzanama and other epic tales.
Revolving around the adventures of mythological, religious and historical figures, the supernatural and spiritual are a crucial component of epic manuscript painting and literature. These stories captivated their audiences with accounts and illustrations of the adventures of epic heroes with the magical creatures of the legendary Mount Qaf.
Each paper examines a different aspect and range of characters from the supernatural world. Focusing on the visual, the changing iconography of the fantastic is examined in the context of its duality and the illusory line between the real and surreal, the physical and the symbolic, the religious and areligious and good and evil. The papers follow a sequence of the visual, with the progressive inclusion of the symbolic and the spiritual.
The first examines Div iconography in the context of illustrations that expose a surprising element of humanity. It probes the Safavid and Mughal artists' vision of evil and the methods used to add a deeper dimension, character and complexity to the monstrous physicality of the demon.
The second studies the significance of the magnificent Simorgh in Iranian mythology, epic poetry, folktales and mystic literature. It traces its visual representation from the Sassanian to the present and explores the duality of its presence both as a physical creature as well as a symbolic one.
The third discusses the visual traditions of the Qurʾānic narrative associated with Ādam and interpretively charters the supernatural iconography of angels, devils, serpents and dragons.
The fourth paper, added to the panel by the organizers, examines the depiction of wondrous animals in the Inju style of painting.