The long prehistoric period in Iran, is known to us mostly from excavation work carried out in a few key sites, which has led to a chronology of distinct periods, each one characterised by the development of certain types of pottery, artefacts and architecture. Pottery is one of the oldest Persian art forms, and examples have been unearthed from burial mounds (Tappeh), dating back from the 5th millennium BC.
The "Animal style" which uses decorative animal motifs is very strong in the Persian culture first appearing in pottery, reappearing much later in the Luristan bronzes and again in Scythian art.
During the Achaemenian and Sassanian periods, metal-work continued its ornamental development. Some of the most beautiful examples of metal-ware are gilded silver cups and dishes decorated with royal hunting scenes from the Sassanian Dynasty.
The earliest known distinctive style of Persian painting dates back to the Seljuk period, which is often referred to as the "Baghdad School". Early painting was mainly used to decorate manuscripts and versions of the Holy Koran, though some 13th century pottery found near Tehran indicates an early, unique Persian style of art. During the Mongol period, paintings were used to decorate all sorts of books.
Persian architecture has a very long and complex history, and is often regarded as the field in which Persia made its greatest contribution to the world's culture. Although Persian styles differ sharply from any other Islamic architecture, they have strongly influenced buildings throughout much of the Islamic world, especially in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
The art of the Iranian world from its earliest beginnings exhibited a constant and unmistakable characteristic, in spite of the many trends and currents and the abundance of foreign influences.
The following chapters provide a brief insight into the history of Persian Art up to and including the Qajar period:
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Copyright © 1999 K. Kianush, Art Arena