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:: year 5, Issue 18 (3-2022) ::
Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2022, 5(18): 215-235 Back to browse issues page
Study and Analysis of Zal and Simorgh Drawings in Illustrated Shahnamehs from the Ilkhanid Period (750-654 AH) to Safavid (1135-905 AH)
Ali Salmani 1, Milad Hatef2
1- Associate Professor, Department of Art Philosophy, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Bu Ali Sina University, Hamadan, Iran, , Salmani@basu.ac.ir
2- M.A. Student of Arts in Philosophy of Art, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Bu Ali Sina University, Hamadan, Iran
Abstract:   (589 Views)
The story of Zal and Simorgh is one of the interesting subjects of Shahnameh that has been illustrated many times by painters in different periods. Simorgh appears in Shahnameh with its legendary features. However, there is a close relationship between these features and the characteristics of a number of other creatures in the history of Iranian mythology. Simorgh acts like a mysterious animal in the shamanic religion and breeds Zal like a novice shaman in nature. Zal is sometimes depicted with a veil and sometimes without a veil and naked. Also, in terms of location, Zal is sometimes designed to ride on Simorgh’s back or in his arms or on the plain and on top of a mountain in Simorgh’s nest. The composition of the drawings is such that the further we go, the more acceptable and eye-catching order we see in the drawings. Considering the systematic and hierarchical study of Zal and Simorgh paintings from the Ilkhani to Safavi periods, the approach of artists in depicting the epic aspects of the story and the romantic and spiritual atmosphere that prevails is a point that should be considered in the present study. Let us. The use of common elements in the paintings such as trees, mountains and plains shows the definition of a special framework in “depicting” the story of Zal and Simorgh. This descriptive-analytical method and with a historical approach to the paintings of Zal and Simorgh illustrated in various Shahnamehs has reached the conclusion that in each painting, the influence of the school of each period can be clearly seen and also the elements used in the paintings are almost similar to each other. 
Keywords: Shahnameh, Iranian painting, Zal, Simorgh.

In this research, the paintings of Zal and Simorgh in different Shahnamehs from the Ilkhanid period to the end of the Safavid period, which have been illustrated by artists, are examined. In this study, we have tried to answer questions such as how the paintings are executed, how they are painted and the elements of these paintings are combined.
Research method: This research uses a descriptive-analytical method and a historical approach to study the paintings of Zal and Simorgh that have been illustrated in different Shahnamehs. Also, information was collected by library method and authoritative academic dissertations, articles and websites contributed to advancing the objectives of this study.
The subject of Zal and Simorgh has been discussed in articles which are: “The opposition of nature and culture in the painting of Zal and Simorgh” by Zahra Rahnavard (2009) in which the paintings have been studied in a symbolic framework. In the article “History of Simorgh in Ancient Iran” (2016), the cultural roots of Simorgh in Iran and its nomenclature have been studied and in the article “A Look at the Forms of Rashida Shahnameh Paintings” Pakzad (2014) Rashida Shahnameh Paintings Are. Also, in the article “Study of Shamanism and other spells in the story of Rostam and Esfandiar” written by Aminipour (2017), the story of Zal’s birth and how he became a shaman has been studied.

According to the mentioned contents, the following results have been obtained;
1. Zal and Simorgh paintings of the first school of Tabriz in the patriarchal period have been somewhat influenced by Chinese art traditions. The rocks are very simply drawn, showing the species of abstraction. Zal is depicted with human cover and in Simorgh design, the effect of Chinese painting is mainly observed.
2. In Isfahan, the patriarchal period is generally characterized by raw abstraction. Simorgh free from splendor are designed naked. The rocks are depicted symbolically. In general, the division of the painting space into four parts, including Zal and Simorgh at the top of the painting, and rabbits and statues at the bottom, has achieved a relatively eye-catching order.
3. In the Shiraz school of the Al-Inju period, large engravings and a uniform golden background are evident. Zal is depicted in white and Simorgh with golden feathers and a dark beige head.
4. In the Shiraz school of the Al-Muzaffar period, a very simple composition can be seen by dividing the space into two parts, Zal, Simorgh and caravans. In general, the background of the painting is divided into two parts under the influence of composition by turquoise and gold colors. Zal riding on Simorgh are naked and Simorgh are depicted in abstract ways.
5. The Herat school of the Baysanghar period was like a launching pad in Iranian painting. There is no sign of abstraction in the painting. The artist has creatively balanced the painting. Zal and Simorgh in the center of the image, the tree and Sam on the right and the rocks on the left create a dynamic balance image. Unusual colors and the shape of the rocks indicate the evolution of painting in this period.
6. The most basic feature of the Isfahan school was the artist’s interest in showing the movement of statues, which aesthetically considered the wavy, twisted and curved Islamic form in relation to all the elements of the subject. In the graphic used in this school, the method is used. Zal is standing in front of Sam with white cups, red hair, holding hands. The splendor of the tree in this painting, unlike other paintings, is noticeable. The rocks are dimmer and occupy a small part of the image.
7. In the painting related to Qazvin school, a completely different atmosphere is seen from other paintings. Simorgh nest can be seen on the top of a very tall tree that stretches from the middle of a cliff. Zal is in the arms of Simorgh and Simorgh itself is depicted with warm colored wings and cold colored feathers. The sharp shape of the rocks makes Simorgh’s nest invincible.
8. The peak of glory, taste and creativity of an artist can be seen in the painting done in Isfahan school. In general, the composition in this painting and its masterful coloring have created a dreamy atmosphere consisting of four chapters. The sponge rocks on which the Simorgh nest is located, reflect the talent of Fayyaz Negargar as much as possible.
9. In this painting, there is no sign of the splendid decorations of the Isfahan school. It can be admitted that there is a kind of rawness in the whole image. Simorgh, while flying from his lair, embraces Zal and returns him to his father Sam. Also, most of the image space is covered by rocks and mountains.
10. A beautiful and regular work, Zal and Sam are depicted in two corners of the painting, facing each other, one riding on the back of Simorgh and one on the plain. Rocks play a lesser role, although they cover about half of the image.
11. The use of cool colors in depicting Simorgh and the light colors of rocks and mountains, which are all white, and the uniform dark background of the plain is noticeable. Zal is also depicted on top of rocks and naked with white hair.
12. A clear example of a masterpiece of Iranian painting that was created in the school of Tabriz II. Simorgh’s masterful design and painting is a manifestation of his glory and awe. The color of the rocks is also in harmony with the colors used in Simorgh and is reminiscent of sea waves.
In general, Zal and Simorgh paintings have a similar generality in terms of visual structure and execution style, but the color scheme of the elements has been dramatically and fundamentally different and has been influenced by the school of time and the taste of the painter.
Keywords: Shahnameh, Iranian painting, Zal, Simorgh.
Full-Text [PDF 1852 kb]   (222 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Interdisciplinary
Received: 2021/07/21 | Accepted: 2022/02/5 | Published: 2022/03/1
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Salmani A, Hatef M. Study and Analysis of Zal and Simorgh Drawings in Illustrated Shahnamehs from the Ilkhanid Period (750-654 AH) to Safavid (1135-905 AH). Parseh J Archaeol Stud. 2022; 5 (18) :215-235
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