Tuesday 1 May 2007
Source: PRESS TV
Traditional Iranian coffeehouses are commonly ornamented with a particular style of painting which stands as a purely Persian art.
Making use of oil paint, the art of coffeehouse painting is narrative and epic. Originating from the popular Iranian painting, the art flourished during the Constitutional Revolution of Iran. Indeed, it is rooted in the narrative traditions and Persian passion plays common in Old Iranian coffeehouses.
The most common themes in a coffeehouse painting are national. The stories derive mostly from the 10th century epic masterwork known as The Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. The legend of Rostam and Sohrab and the tragedy of Siavash are the familiar stories which almost all Iranians might have heard of upon entering a traditional coffeehouse.
The Iranian coffeehouse painting came out of an urgent need to depict and glorify the heroes of Persia. In fact, it is a reflection of the nation’s search to revive their heroes and get inspiration by the scenes of their bravery.
The paintings are traditionally described by a narrator known as naghal (“relater”) who tries to concretize the situation by constantly coming and going and lowering and raising his voice.
Masterpieces of coffeehouse painting have been created by lower class artists who have found haven in isolated coffeehouses and have shown an enthusiasm to narrate and illustrate the glory of Persian civilization.
One of the most renowned painters at Iranian coffeehouses was H. Aghasi, whose masterpieces deal with the famous stories from the Shahnameh, including the battle of Rostam and Ashkbus, tragedy of Rostam and Sohrab as well as the Defeat of the White Monster by Rostam.
The champion of Iranian coffeehouse painting is the late H. Ismailzadeh, known as Chalipa. He began the career when he was only 8, and continued the job for over 70 years. Chalipa’s portrayal of Siavash and the Fire as well as Bahram and Golandam are among the most memorable artworks in the Iranian history.