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Journal:   NEGAREH   summer 2018 , Volume 13 , Number 46 ; Page(s) 4 To 15.

A Defense Of Painting: Analysis Of Qutb Al-Din Muhammad’ S Preface To Shah Tahmasb’ S Album With An Analytical Historical Sociology Approach

Author(s):  Rahimi Pordanjani Hanif*, Shirazi Ali Asghar, Marasi Mohsen
* Faculty of Art Architecture, Yazd University
Album making is a long-standing tradition in the history of Islamic Art in Iran, especially at the end of the Timurid and Safavid Periods. Albums contain scattered pages of calligraphy and paintings which are bound together and form a book that is used in order to review the masterpieces of the artists in cultural meetings. These albums have some advantages for the art of Iran. Firstly, they preserve the works of art. Secondly, there is a place for workmanship and thirdly, sometimes the patron or the owner wanted an author to write a preface for it. In fact prefaces of the albums must be known as the first art histories of Iran which include precious information about artists, patrons and sometimes the history of forming the arts of calligraphy and painting. Hitherto there has been much attention to literary aspects and historical information in the prefaces of the albums, but sociological contexts of them and references of texts to their historical setting is still neglected. Preface to Shah Tahmasb’ s Album, written by Qutb al-Din Mohammad in 964 AH, is one of the rare prefaces which in addition to calligraphy includes the issue of painting and painters. Many contemporary scholars point to it and it has an important place in the studies of Persian painting since the time it has been known, but a few scholars have studied it critically. After Dust Muhammad’ s preface in 952 AH, this is the second preface which pays attention to paining and painters. While based on documents and texts neither of the authors is a painter but calligrapher. Now the question is that why in the mid-century an author like Qutb al-Din Mohammad after Dust Muhammad, paid attention to painting and painters? In fact this research sought to identify which causes led to the making of Qutb al-Din Muhammad’ s preface about the painting in the tenth/sixteenth century. To answer this question, the analytical historical sociology approach is taken. This method, by means of primary and secondary sources, mostly focuses on “ whys” in matters and answers based on authentic causal relationships; causes which lead to similar results. At First step, researcher studied the biography of Qutb al-Din Muhammad and tried to solve the disagreement between the scholars about the real identity of him and similar historical figures like Qut al-Din Baghdadi and Qutb al-Din Muhammad Yazdi. After that the article paid attention to the text of preface and analysis of it. Qutb al-Din Muhammad in different ways, directly and indirectly tries to advocate painting and painters. He uses different sources like Hadith, historical remarks, poems and so on to prove the rightfulness of painting and the position of painters. Then the religio-political setting for the making of the preface was investigated. In that way, the life of Shah Tahmasb and his influence on the art and artist and also the influence of clerks on Shah Tahmasb and the court are discussed. Lastly, researcher assumes that different chains of linear and transversal causes like the political-religious atmosphere of that period, written tradition and finally intellectual-educational-professional background of the author tend to converge and the preface was written. One can regard these causes as two interwoven existential causes and formative causes. The presence of clerks in politics and their influence on King’ s mind and pressure to artists, especially musicians and painters, changing King's mood and his reluctance of painting, miserliness and at last firing the painters from the court, are existential causes of writing the preface in defense of painting and painters. Written tradition of writing prefaces in the Safavid period which began many years ago in different branches of literature and not in painting, skill of the author in literature and his familiarity with techniques of lettering and secretary; also his religious beliefs in connection to his job as a storyteller (Qisi Khwan) and a link between clerks and the artist are known as formative causes. But the main cause must be known as the pressures of clerks on painting and painters and writing the preface as a result was a reaction in defense of painting.
Keyword(s): Preface,Painting,Calligraphy,Qutb al-Din Muhammad,Analytical Historical Sociology
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APA: Copy

Rahimi Pordanjani, H., & SHIRAZI, A., & MARASI, M. (2018). A Defense of Painting: Analysis of Qutb al-Din Muhammad’ s Preface to Shah Tahmasb’ s Album with an Analytical Historical Sociology Approach. NEGAREH, 13(46 ), 4-15.

Vancouver: Copy

Rahimi Pordanjani Hanif, SHIRAZI ALI ASGHAR, MARASI MOHSEN. A Defense of Painting: Analysis of Qutb al-Din Muhammad’ s Preface to Shah Tahmasb’ s Album with an Analytical Historical Sociology Approach. NEGAREH. 2018 [cited 2022May20];13(46 ):4-15. Available from:

IEEE: Copy

Rahimi Pordanjani, H., SHIRAZI, A., MARASI, M., 2018. A Defense of Painting: Analysis of Qutb al-Din Muhammad’ s Preface to Shah Tahmasb’ s Album with an Analytical Historical Sociology Approach. NEGAREH, [online] 13(46 ), pp.4-15. Available:

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