Reading the narrative of tile paintings in entrance of Eram Garden of Shiraz

Document Type : Research Article



The present article studies the narratives of tile paintings on the eastern side of the main building in Eram Garden of Shiraz which may be one of the most beautiful gardens in Iran.  The main tile painting in the entrance of Eram Garden comprises three torics that illustrate four scenes:  Rostam in the court of King Solomon, the fainting of servants after seeing Prophet Joseph, the bathing of Shirin while Khosrow is watching, and the horse riding of Nasereddin Shah.  The present research first studies the narrative of each scene and then looks into their related themes by taking into consideration the components of the scenes.  And finally, it will study the arrangement of the components and identifies the common visual elements in each scene.        What is important in the present research is the juxtaposition of each image with its corresponding image as well as the common elements that exist in a visual narrative.  This is believed to help contribute to the understanding of the meanings of images or even change them.  For the purposes of the research, the theories of Roland Barthes have been used to explain the implicit and explicit implications for choosing the images for tile work at the entrance of the site under study.   The findings of the research show that the explanation of power under the theories of Michel Foucault can be applicable to the narratology of the subject under study in the present research. In other words, the visual elements in each of the three scenes have a common theme which is the concept of “the power of the king”.   Prophet Solomon and Prophet Joseph are religious figures but Rustam and Khosrow are epic figures.  Nevertheless, these figures are symbols of “powerful kings”.  On the other hand, Prophet Joseph and Zoleykha and Khosrow and Shirin are symbols of “imaginary lovers” and represent lyrical and fancy concepts.  Nevertheless, the lyrical, religious and heroic contents of the tile paintings around Nassereddin Shah’s picture at the site under study appear to serve to guard his power and contribute to a discourse that would represent his legitimacy and his popularity among the public.   There have been several researches about Iranian tile paintings.  Also, some researchers have looked into the tile works and their functions like Mahmoud Maher al Naghsh and Hadi Seyf.  Nevertheless, Iranian tile works deserve a more profound analysis in light of the theories of Roland Barthes about interpretation the texts in arts as applied in the present research.