Persian Relief

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The Persians were advanced, sophisticated, and opulent people. Their society was filled with colour, craft, and unique artwork. They had some of the richest materials and were the first to document personal records and public finances. Despite Greek stereotypes of their ignorance and hostility, we have key evidence that they were a tolerant society and there are even letters from Persian aristocracy condemning fellow Persians who defamed Greek temples or religious sites.

But following their defeat in the war, Greece quickly became the dominant power. Here began the characterisation of Persia as the weaker, barbaric “others”. The feminine race who oiled their hair and perfumed their gowns. Here began the geographical and cultural division of the world into the East and the West.

A question to ask is “what would the world be like if Persia had won the war?” If Alexander the Great hadn’t burnt down Persepolis and destroyed centuries of Persia’s history out of spite? If Christianity hadn’t had the cultural advantage to dominate Europe and later the world? The world would be a very different place, that’s for sure.

All of the above is a snapshot of what this design represents. We could count on one hand the number of Persian artworks available to recreate as so much of this remarkable civilisation is lost to us.

This design is taken from the Bas Relief at the Kingdom Palace in Persepolis. The Bull and Lion motif is a prevalent symbol of the cycle of life and death, as well as the changing seasons which were first attributed to zodiacs by the Persians.

The typical “spiral” pattern is highly stylised in Persian art so this print experiments with textured brushes to bring it to life.