Teahouse painting exhibition explores Battle of Karbala

August 24, 2020 - 19:6

TEHRAN – A collection of teahouse paintings depicting stories on the Battle of Karbala are on display in an exhibition at Mehrsan Gallery in Tehran.

The collection belongs to Javad Aqili, one of the few survivors among Iran’s teahouse painters. He was a student of Abbas Bolukifar, a pioneer of the art genre. 

It also contains works from the pioneers of this art, including Bolukifar, Mohammad Modabber, Hassan Esmaeilzadeh, Hossein Hamedani, Fathollah Qollar-Aqasi, Mohammad Farahani and Ali-Akbar Larani.

Aqili, 84, has made great efforts for decades to accumulate the collection, which has helped save teahouse painting from sinking into oblivion. 

The exhibition will run until October 1 at the gallery located in North Kargar St., near Forsat Shirazi St.       

The teahouse has had various functions in different eras during its 400-year history in Iran. Teahouses used to be places where people gathered to spend their leisure time listening to a naqqal, an Iranian traditional storyteller, narrating stories from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. People talked and exchanged views, and along with lutis, wise and generous people, helped poor people.

Teahouse painters emerged in such an atmosphere. They listened to the discussions and tales, using them as subjects for the paintings they drew on the walls, tiles, stones and canvases. Sometimes, teahouse owners commissioned the painters to draw the stories.

With their own unique perspective not used in other styles, teahouse painters drew motifs entirely based on their imagination. The themes of such paintings are epics, traditions and religion.

Photo: An Iranian teahouse painting. (IRNA/Mojtaba Mohammadlu) 


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