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  Kamaluddin Behzad 

Afghanland.com -  Kamaluddin Behzad was born in 1450 in the city of Herat in western Afghanistan. At a young age Behzad became an orphan and was raised by Mirak Naqash, (Naqash meaning Painter in Dari) a prominent painter of his time. Behzad became a disciple of Naqash and learn the intricacy of painting that pleased the high class. Showing considerable talent, he was encouraged by Naqash and Naqash's protégé Mir Ali Sher Nawai the prime minister of Herat.


Behzad began painting storylines from the famous books of poetry by rebound Afghan poets Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad (Rumi) and other world famous Dari poets, Firdowsi, Sa'adi, Nizami and more. His style of painting which depicted a poem on canvas and illustrated the story in directional phases pleased the Sultan of Herat, Hussain Baeqra. Most of his paintings were purchased by the royals and was on display at the palace, since they were the ones who could afford to do so.


After the fall of Timurid dynasty, Behzad was summoned by Shah Ismael I of Tabriz where he was commissioned to depict works of Shahnameh and others books on canvas

Behzad is the most famous of central Asian miniature painters, though he is more accurately understood as the director of a workshop (or kitabkhāna) producing manuscript illuminations in a style he conceived. Central Asian painting of the period frequently uses an arrangement of geometric architectural elements as the structural or compositional context in which the figures are arranged. Behzad is equally skilled with the organic areas of landscape, but where he uses the traditional geometric style Behzad stretches that compositional device in a couple ways. One is that he often uses open, pattern less empty areas around which action moves. Also he pins his compositions to a mastery at moving the eye of the observer around the picture plane in a quirky organic flow. The gestures of figures Behzad's Yusuf and Zulaikhaand objects are not only uniquely natural, expressive and active, they are arranged to keep moving the eye throughout the picture plane. He uses value (dark-light contrast) more emphatically, and skillfully than other medieval miniaturists. The amazing cosmopolitan variety of humans working on the wall in the sample image. This surprising individuality of character and narrative creativity are some qualities that distinguish Bezhad's works and that match their literary intent. Behzad also uses Sufi symbolism and symbolic color to convey meaning. He introduced greater naturalism to central Asian painting, particularly in the depiction of more individualized figures and the use of realistic gestures and expressions.

Behzad's most famous works include "The Seduction of Yusuf" from Bostan of Sa'adi of 1488, and paintings from the British Library's Nizami manuscript of 1494-95 - particularly scenes from Layla and Majnun and the Haft Paykar (see accompanying image). The attribution of specific paintings to Behzad himself is often problematic (and, many academics would now argue, unimportant), but the majority of works commonly attributed to him date from 1488 to 1495.

Behzad died in 1535 and his tomb is located in Tabriz.


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