The art of minakari or ornamental painting on the metal surface is one of the oldest forms of art in ancient Persia and in modern Iran. Minakari is a miniature painting on ceramics and metal: bright colors, unique images, and forms of minakari make each piece truly unique. Find out interesting details about the history of the ancient art of minakari in Iran and the best specimens of minakari in our article.
The Art of Minakari in Iran: general information
The name minakari comes from the word “minou” which is translated as “sky” or the azure color of the sky. This shade prevails in painting. Minakari was invented in the era of the Sassanid dynasty (224 – 651 years). During the reign of Safavid, the French traveler mentioned an enameled object in his notes; those objects were decorated with bright colored birds and animals, floral patterns and ornaments.
The process of creating metal forms, painting and coating with enamel is a rather complicated process. Surprisingly, at that time the ancient Persians had such skills. For enamel, mostly silver and copper are used. The patterns of the minakari are so diverse that it is difficult to find two pieces with the same patterns. Several masters take part in the process. First the basis for painting from silver, gold or copper is prepared. It can be a vase, a plate, a jug and etc. Then the product is enameled and burned. The process is repeated for 3 times. And finally, when the object is ready, the master covers it with a painting. First, a background color is applied, then fine patterns and the smallest details. When the painting is finished, the object is placed in the oven. The finished product is examined in detail for the detection of cracks and defects and only products with a perfectly even coating and a pattern are sold or exhibited.
Ornamental painting is often used to decorate chandeliers and doors in mosques, to decorate vases and candlesticks. For jewelry gold is used instead of silver and copper; gold gives a dazzling glow to the decoration. Azure colored patterns in the style of “islimi” are dominating in painting. This style has been used for over a thousand years and this is one of the distinguishing features of the Persian minakari. One of the geometric complex patterns of the minakari is the symbol of the ancient religious teaching since the time of mitrism.
The Art of Minakari in Iran: where to see
Isfahan is considered the center of ornamental art and the best enamel masters live and create in Isfahan. The most expensive and unique products are stored and exhibited in the Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts. In the city bazaar of Isfahan, you can find the best examples of the minakari, and each of them deserves special attention. The products are also exhibited on Chahar-Bak Street and next to Naksh-e Jahan Square. In all bazaars of Iran, you can also find counters with pitchers and souvenirs with paintings. Souvenir with unique painting will be a wonderful present as a memory of an unforgettable journey to an ancient country.