Visual Poetry in Asian Art

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The role of visual poetry in Persian manuscripts evolved quite dramatically from the thirteenth century on.  Earlier manuscripts generally show images (paintings, drawings) for the purpose of enhancing, or illustrating written word.  Gradually the images start to become more relevant, more necessary, until eventually in the latter part of the fifteenth century these depictions become solo pieces, often with little or no text and taking up entire pages.  This change in the relationship between writing and imagery helped urge the appearance of artwork outside of books.  Artists began creating image artwork alone, and not only were the pieces original, but affordable too.  Illustrated manuscripts could be quite expensive so that only the elite could partake.  This shift in the role of visual art made it possible for regular people to collect and build collections that related to their specific tastes. 

 When thinking of Asian art, gardens are one of the first things to come to mind.  These gardens are rich in color, highly idealized, and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention the symbolism they portray.  The popular chahar-baghs (four part gardens) were created with geometric dimensions as the driving force.  Typically, there was a central fountain, the water from which flowed into four channels connecting around the perimeter of the garden creating these four parts.  The Taj Mahal garden is an excellent example of a chahar-bagh.  The four channels are symbolic representations of the Four Rivers of Paradise described in the Koran, as well as Hindu accounts of The Sacred Grove.  These gardens became synonymous with the human desire to be ideal, as well as places for quiet contemplation.


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