Symbolic Elements in Persian Painting

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D in Visual Arts. Assistant professor. Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting and Sculpture, University of Tehran. Tehran, Iran

2 M.A in Painting. Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting and Sculpture, University of Tehran. Tehran, Iran


Developments in the Persian painting enjoy a relative continuity and progression despite historic interruptions and the influence of foreign cultures, and many visual and thematic commonalities are observed in the works of different ages of the Persian painting. Symbolism as one of the tools of visual expression and a representation of concepts has brought many works of the Persian panting together both in terms of form and concept. Therefore, a survey on the symbolic elements and semiotics in the Persian painting is considerable with regards to the status of the symbols and the method of their application in various eras. Evaluation of the various symbolic elements through their categorization into geometrical, composed and natural symbols has prepared the ground for a better and more accurate process of studying the function of the elements, the symbolic setting and symbolism in general in the Persian paintings. The symbolic elements as representations of exalted and remote concepts and have evident and remarkable manifestations which have often maintained their connections with tangible reality. The Persian artist has exposed symbolic paintings with different functions, sometimes through a completely immaterial and abstract method, sometimes inspired by the reality, sometimes by exaggerating the actual characteristics and sometimes by composing different characteristics, which have facilitated the bounds and relations with intangible concepts and meanings in the picture setting by means of symbolic composition. In fact, the Persian painter in various eras uses the valuable background of Persian poem and literature as well as deep concepts of Iranian Wisdom and Islamic Mysticism, not to represent the tangible nature but to express the symbolic significance. Therefore, innovation and application of the symbolic elements in the visual language of the Persian painting in various eras have gone through a complementary process in terms of form and content.