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Sasanian Art, the Main Source of Early Islamic Floor-Frescos


19 February 2006



LONDON, (CAIS) - by Shapour Suren-Pahlav -- The recent discovery of Sasanian Murals,  particularly the floor-frescos from the shahr-e Gur (Ardeshir-Khurra "Glory of Ardeshir"), ascertain that the source and origin of Islamic floor-paintings was Sasanian art, in contrary to many previous claims by experts of Islamic art, such as the late German scholar Richard Ettinghausen.


Ettinghausen in his book "Arab Painting" (p.33, paragraph 4) have argued: "Certain details of their design [floor painting], especially the abrupt changes from areas of light to dark color, indicate that these frescoes imitate mosaics, which took more time to apply", and he concluded that although "such a copying in another medium was not uncommon then or earlier, as the imitation of marble incrustations from Roma times on indicate".


The discovery of Sasanian floor-frescos from Gur, makes a strong case, to lay a claim that the Umayyad floor-frescos were not an imitation of classical floor-mosaics, but it was a deployment of a long established decorative-medium in Iran, that they had either learnt from Iranians or employed Iranian artisans to execute their works in Umayyad palaces. The best surviving example of Umayyad's floor-frescos can be observed in Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi in Syria, which was built by Umayyad caliph al-Walid in 728 CE.





Aerial view of Gur


The Discovered Floor frescos


Palace of Ardeshir


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City Entrance (Outside View)


City Entrance (Inside View)


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These four princes were consisted of two women, and two young men. The method used in this fresco shows the effect of the Parthian painting on the art of the begging of the Sasanian dynastic era.


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The design of one of Sasanian princes.


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A floor-fresco belonging to the early Sasanian dynastic era was discovered for the first time in the city of Gur. The colours used in this floor fresco have been remained intact which indicate the special attention to use quality and various colours.



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Related News:

18 Feb 2006: Murals of Sasanian Imperial Family Unearthed in Gur 

09 June 2004: Iranian Artists Decorated Umayyad Palaces




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