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Paper Information

Journal:   PAZHOHESH-HA-YE BASTANSHENASI IRAN   fall 2017 , Volume 7 , Number 14 ; Page(s) 179 To 189.

A Survey of Metalworking in Western Iran During Thirteenth Century; Introducing a Newly Characterized School of Metalworking

* Department of Art, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Science and Research Azad University
The image of Persian metalwork after Mongol invasion has not yet been clarified. Often it has been thought that the Persian craftsmen due to this devastating event have been scattered and continued their activity in north Mesopotamian and Syrian workshops. However, there is evidence at hand indicating not only the continuation of metalwork production in western Iran but also the formation of a new style of decoration. In this essay, some of these evidence in order to determine characteristics of Persian metalwork after Mongol invasion have been introduced. Stylistic analyze of pieces at hand indicates a kind of new style that is best manifested in representation of floral motifs, arabesques in particular. With evidence of the existing works this style at the beginning was not far from the naturalistic style yet gradually in the later works of the century became more conventional and non-naturalistic. Yet in the metalwork of the next years and centuries rendering of vegetal motifs, volutes in particular, becomes more coordinated with the metal substance and finally in the last works of this group they along with their small lobes had been performed so precise and standardized that look like a machine’ s cogwheels. In addition to standardize arabesques with diamond shaped flowers and scrolls which are peculiar to this style, use of geometrical motifs derived from architectural ornaments is among its other features. Though most of these motifs are used as single-component units and as secondary elements in decorations of the works of this period, sometimes they have become the core element of the ornaments. An important such a case is a motif similar to six-spoked fret of Imamzadeh Yahya in Varamin used in the medallions and background of the decorative surface of some of the rectangular caskets of this period. Use of this fretwork as used in these caskets is not confined to west Iran but it can be found in metalwork of Syria and Jazira as well. Yet another important feature of the works considered as member of western Iranian metalwork style is using a new iconography in illustrating figural motifs. This kind of iconography is different from Khurasanian tradition. In the products of Khurasan stylization of figures is abstract and is limited to the least possible visual expression. While here a kind of realism is embedded in depicting people and their stances. This kind of iconography is inspired by the motifs of the western and central Iranian painted potteries, which possibly for the first time appeared in the objects like the nine-faceted candlestick of Baznengerd. In these two works stylization of human figures resembles that of painted potteries. Especially the stylization of figures sitting back on their heels in the Baznegerd candlestick is completely similar to that of painted potteries. In fact, it seems that the painter regardless the limitation of the substance; metal, performed the same things on metal as he did on pottery. However, in the later works of this century the evolution of this kind of iconography finds a new direction that one of its possible reasons can be emergence of a new independent pattern for the figural decorations in metalwork. Accordingly, the figures worked in the later objects mildly detach from nature. They are depicted in a way there is no trace of the natural mode and stances of their body peculiar to Baznegerd candlestick. The brass and bronze works of western Iran in the second half of the thirteenth century--perhaps for accelerating the production and decoration of works--frequently present a kind of conventional and stereotyped figures. For instance, a sitting figure holding a cup with one hand and reaching out the other hand is one of the most frequent motifs of the western metalwork in the second half of the thirteenth century.
Keyword(s): Islamic Metalwork,Western Iran,Thirteenth Century,Baznegerd hoard,Brass Silver-Inlaid Caskets
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