Teahouse paintings on tragedy of Ashura on view at Tehran café 

August 14, 2021 - 18:57

TEHRAN – Tehran’s Phi Café is hosting an exhibition of teahouse paintings on the tragedy of Ashura. 

The exhibition opened on Friday is showcasing a collection of works by Narges Eshqi, the Iranian Research Institute of Philosophy announced in a press release on Saturday.

“For years, religious beliefs were promulgated by eulogists, naqqals [traditional storytellers] and Muslim clerics at hosseiniehs, tekyehs [places for seasonal Islamic ceremonies] and teahouses,” the institute said.

“Each of these people used to share their beliefs artfully and filled with emotion with the people who eagerly came together in the places,” it added.

“Also in these places were teahouse painters who listened to the stories, reflected on them and then portrayed the stories on canvases,” the institute explained.

“Teahouse painting has recently been restored based on legacies from the past by a number of young artists, one of them is Narges Eshqi,” it noted.

The exhibition will run until August 22 at the café located at 87 Neauphle-le-Château 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, who helped the poor.

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.

Stories about the uprising of Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions against the oppressive Umayyad dynasty in 680 CE are more highly regarded by the teahouse painters.

Photo: A poster for a teahouse painting exhibition by Narges Eshqi at Tehran’s Phi Café. 

MMS/YAW

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