Studying the Role and Symbolic Meanings of Cypress Tree (Sarv) in Miniatures of “Tahmasbi Shahnameh”

Document Type : Research Article




According to different beliefs and cultures, trees are considered as valuable and sacred beings, and Iranians also have much respect for the tree. Cypress tree is one of the trees with symbolic concepts and mythological power among the Iranians who has won the attention of the poets and authors in different periods, especially the 4th and 5th centuries AH Hakim AbulQasim Ferdowsi is one of the poets, who has used all types of plants, particularly cypress and its symbolic concepts and, considering its various types, has attributed many traits to it; thus,he could present many pleasant descriptions from the nature and human Tahmasbi Shahnameh, as a Persian miniature masterpiece, has depicted the same symbolic and mysterious concepts in the miniatures. There has been no independent research on the role of cypress tree in the miniatures of Tahmasbi Shahnameh. Detail analysis of the miniatures in this Tahmasbi Shahnameh required the symbolism of plants, particularly the cypress tree. The present article is a response to the questions such as "Is the cypress tree important in these miniatures?" and also "How much this element is associated with other elements?" The hypothesis indicates that the cypress plays an effective role in images, both visually and symbolically, and it is highly associated with heroes and prominent characters of the miniature. The research method is analytical and some of the most important miniatures of Tahmasbi Shahnameh are described based on symbolism literature and other references. The results show that Iranian miniaturist, considering the symbols of nature, has presented the symbolic meanings and concepts of cypress and its association with heroes and characters in the miniatures using other symbols such as water, mountain, stone, and other trees along with cypress. In these miniatures, the cypress tree is also the symbol of immortality, great men, eternity, grandeur, goodness, and freedom.


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