An Introduction to Persian Art since the Seventh Century A. D

An Introduction to Persian Art since the Seventh Century A. D

An Introduction to Persian Art since the Seventh Century A. D

An Introduction to Persian Art since the Seventh Century A. D

Excerpt

live in an age of discovery, which profoundly and constantly changes our ways of life. These discoveries, moreover, are not merely in the realm of science and invention but also in the realm of the spirit. Hegel remarked: "If it be accounted a worthy achievement to have identified 60 species of parrot and 137 species of veronica, how much more important is it to discover the fundamental principles upon which the human reason depends." Similarly we might say, if it be accounted a worthy achievement to have determined the girth of Betelgeuse or a quick way to turn forests into paper, is it not equally admirable to discover and appreciate new ways in which the human spirit has envisaged its ideal of perfection? For that is what art really is.

It is thus a matter of no small moment that eager voyaging minds have, in the last twenty years, brought to the somewhat parochial and self-satisfied æsthetic culture of Europe, news of an art of Asia that is both real and profound, and have shown that to this handmaiden of some of the world's deepest and truest religions, certain glories of this world, commonly hidden from Western eyes, have stood revealed. To these cultural explorers we owe the introduction of another range of æsthetic forms, new vistas and expanded horizons.

Less than thirty years ago the grandeur and spirituality of Chinese sculpture was a closed book and only a few gifted souls had responded to the exalted emotion that informs the noblest of Chinese paintings. The impressive and sensitive art of India was classed as "heathen," the sculpture of Assyria, in some respects still unrivalled, was, to our dumb gaze, a "curiosity," while Persian art was all but damned by being faintly praised as pretty."

But little by little high quality of Persian art, its verve . . .

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