'Qajar Ceramics,’ which runs until December 31 at IAMM’s Special Gallery 2, took the museum’s curatorial staff and researchers nearly two-and-a-half years to put together.
The exhibition offers a closer look at the distinctive characteristics of Qajar ceramics, highlighting their forms, aesthetics and themes, star2.com reported.
From beautiful vases with floral motifs to fritware tiles and dishes depicting stories from Persian epics and legends, the artifacts are truly a reflection of Persian civilization’s artistry, finesse, beauty and splendor.
“Since we have a huge collection of Qajar ceramics here at the museum, we decided to highlight it in this yearlong exhibition,” said curator Zulkifli Ishak during a recent interview at the museum.
More than that, the exhibition offers an insightful study into the Qajar Dynasty, which marked Iran’s transition into modernity, championed by Nasereddin Shah, one of the Qajar rulers.
Making several trips to European countries, he introduced Western science, technology and educational methods to his country and tried to convert traditional Persian art into modern styles while keeping it traditional at the same time.
“The Qajar Era was a time of struggle to maintain Persian tradition and identity while embracing innovation and modernity.”
“Inspiration was found by artists in the Qajar Dynasty in the traditions of the grand Persian empires such as the Sassanid Empire while at the same time incorporating modern ideas from Europeans that were making headway in Persian society,” explained Zulkifli, 38.
They struggled to catch up with modernity but at the same time, they really adored their past history, the former Persian glory, he said.
In keeping things accessible, the exhibition is divided into 10 themes such as epic stories, floral motifs and colors.
There is also a small section that shows ceramic artifacts which are defective.
“Where (handmade) craft is involved, it is bound to have errors and defects. We wanted to highlight the struggles of the ceramic artists,” said Zulkifli.
The exhibits are divided between flat tiles and pottery, which include plates and vessels and reflect the main decorative schools of Isfahan and Tehran.
While the ceramics produced at the Isfahan school carry a more floral motif, those made at the Tehran school mostly emphasize royal-historical motifs, battlefield themes and everyday life scenes.
Also, images of Persian heroes might have been intentionally used to solidify the rule of the Qajar Dynasty by tying the Qajar royalty to Persian mythological kings.