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.
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
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.
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.