Behnaz Barabarian: Love in the Qajar period

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The Qajar dynasty ruled Iran in the nineteenth century. Their Turkic culture created quite a distinctive style in decorative arts. It is one of the many periods that contemporary Iranian jewellers draw on today as part of their historical palette. Behnaz Barabarian is a Mashhad based jeweller who shares her modernist version of the Qajar period.

In the making of this work I was focused on combining two different types of art and culture together. My discovery of the modern artworks by Piet Mondrian, a follower of minimalism school of art who took great interest in rectangular or orderly horizontal and vertical forms, provided the sparks of inspiration that ultimately resulted in the creation of this work. The reflection of traditional arts of Qajar period and use of ornamental forms of that time throughout the work made a connection between tradition Persian arts and the modern world of today.

Circulation of the shades and use of colourful rocks such as amber, agate, turquoise, ruby, pearl… contributes a lot to the beauty of this work. Paintings of men and women of Qajar era are renowned throughout the world. Loyalty to native art of the nation was a major factor behind the creation of this work and serves as painting canvas of very smaller scale used to host the shining jewels of art.

The fact that it reflects on a love in Qajar era and tells its story adds to its beauty. The first frame depicts the Qajar king who is in the centre of power and the golden point of the work. The second frame pictures a Qajar princess hiding behind main motifs of Persian art that take the form of a window. And, in the third frame, the Qajar king and the princess are next to each other in a special kind of composition.

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