A study on Authorship in Kamal ud-Din Behzad and Reza Abbasi’s Works

Document Type : Research Article



There are some hidden positive forces in Persian paintings that can be good resources for analysis according to contemporary and new critical studies. The present article will try to study Persian paintings over a wider scope than simply the firm concepts and principles. A significant attention will be thus paid to new concepts. In the past, artists considered art as a religious matter and art was seen as a practice of prophets. Accordingly, Islamic artists dealt less with the individualism. In Persian painting from a special period more or less have been seen the name of the painter as a sign. Nevertheless, the way the artists put their signatures on their works in the past were completely different. A look at this issue shows how modest the artists have been. Those signs show the modesty of the artists. Especially, paintings that have been the result of a group work are not attributed to a single person.  Nevertheless, the signatures of artists in paintings started to appear over years.  This turn is simultaneous to the development of the artist’s character as seen in their bibliographies. From the Teymorid period, the forbidden artist’s style and art penetrate to the royal courts and among artists. Also in this period there is a new genre called Moraga which is different from ancient manuscripts. In the first page of Moraga there are some explanations.  Little by little in Safavid period, the supporters of major manuscripts lost their positions and there are new definitions of relation between artists and supporters. In this new condition, the artists can show their individual creativity and characters. This is a constant analysis of the rising and prevalence of signs in Teymorid and Safavid periods. Nevertheless, it is not the purpose of the present research to analyze the authors’ logic through available signs.  Furthermore, the research has made in several instances references to some new critical approaches. Accordingly, the authors have chosen the most important and the most famous artists who are Kamal ud-Din Behzad and Reza Abbasi from two different eras. And among philosophers who have provided extensive insights into critical theory, the authors have chosen Barthes, Derrida and Focault. The present research focuses on the paintings first and then according to the signs and the artists’ names considers the changes of signs in two continuous periods.  However, relying on paintings does not provide enough information for analysis. Therefore, the bibliographical information has been exploited to obtain a better analysis of the paintings. Comparative studies let scholars find potential points for analytical readings. The high capacity of Persian painting is a persuasive motive for the present research.  Literary criticism undoubtedly has a strong effect on other cultural and academic fields. Therefore, issues like authorship have had comprehensive effects on contemporary art. Of course, for the purposes of the present research the most prevalent ideas of critics about authorship and signing have been chosen. To the same degree, a careful attention has been paid to the idea of French thinker Roland Barthes who says that the author is dead and his signs are not important. Nevertheless, Jacques Derrida as a deconstructive theorist corrects that idea. He says the author is dead but he has left his traces on other signs. Michel Foucalt also considers author as a function in discourse. This means that a specific author creates a special discourse and a special some older works have been chosen which have some threads to lead scholars to these discussions.  According to these theories, the audience in fact reads masterpieces by painters.  The same holds true with the works of Persian master painters Behzad and Reza Abbasi.  Behzad in some of his works brings his name as a signature.  However, his signature is missing from some of the other works. Reza Abbasi always tries to put signatures at the bottom of his paintings. The present article has drawn on the ideas of the three philosophers named above i.e. Barthes, Derrida and Focault to arrive at final conclusions. Roland Barthes believes in the death of the author. Derrida on the other hand believes in the absence and presence of the author. Michel Focault believed that the author is not a person and should mostly be considered as a function. The author can make a discourse.  Accordingly, the present research concludes that Behzad’s function in this kind of issues can be comprised to Derrida’s beliefs. Reza Abbasi also made a discourse through what was later called the Isfahan movement. This is a fact that makes both of these ideas impossible to exist without Barthes theories. Therefore, the death of the author is the origin for the ideas of Derrida and Faucalt.  Derrida believed that signature is a unique thing whose repetition in different texts and works does not let it to be unique. Therefore, signature should signify on just one thing but according to different contexts the signifier of it will be changeable. Finally, the present research showed that the critical function of author lies behind the creative thoughts of painters as can be seen in masterpieces of Kamal ud-Din Behzad and Reza Abbasi. The present article also showed that such painters have been the first critics of their area of expertise in their own ages.     As much as this survey shows, from the Teymorid era to the Safavid era, the Persian artists have frequently found the opportunity to show their creativity and individualities as an author who creates a unique style of his mastership.  Undoubtedly, Reza Abbasi should always been remembered as an artist who have had the greatest contributions to the artistic movement of Isfahan.