Art And Culture

Reflection of Imams in Farshchian’s Paintings

Reflection of Imams in Farshchian’s PaintingsReflection of Imams in Farshchian’s Paintings

The creator of the famous painting ‘The Evening of Ashura’ is now 85 years old. Mahmoud Farshchian, renowned Iranian miniaturist, was born on January 24, 1930 in Isfahan. His artistic passion has crossed several paths from the Isfahan Fine Arts Center to European museums; teaching and creating tens of innovative paintings on religious, mystical and national subjects. Farshchian’s fame has spread far and wide beyond national borders.

He owes his fame and popularity partly to his religious works. His many paintings on religious subjects and the holy shrines of the Shia Imams show a fusion of Iranian traditional techniques brilliantly combined with modern styles. Persian literature, religious concepts and historic characters have been his inspiration.

Farshchian has depicted three stages of the life of Imam Ali (AS) in three paintings:

‘Born in Ka’ba’, based on the story of Imam Ali’s mother Fatemeh Bent-e Asad (SA), depicts her, cuddling her newborn baby. The color white is dominant and angels are painted all around the picture.

‘Ghadir Khumm’, the occasion when Ali ibn Abi Talib was appointed as the first Imam by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and ‘Shelter’, on Imam Ali and the orphans.

‘Shelter’ which illustrates Imam Ali’s hospitality, his kind nature and care of the orphans, is also famous. He has portrayed Imam Ali’s back while hugging two orphans like a caring father.


In ‘The Evening of Ashura’ the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) is commemorated.  Imam is unseen in the illustration and his horse is shown returning to the tents alone, highlighting his martyrdom leaving the viewers with deep and a bitter sorrow. Dark colors and depiction of mourning girls and women contributes greatly to creating this emotion

Farshchian says, “I like those paintings of mine that are popular with the people; however I especially like ‘The Evening of Ashura’ which is due to my attachment and love of Imam Hussein (AS) and Ashura. If I had to paint this picture again, it would be exactly the same.”

‘Guarantor of the Gazelle’ is the name of two of his other paintings that illustrate the story of Imam Reza (AS) saving a gazelle from a hunter. In the first painting, Imam Reza is reflected surrounded by light and the gazelle is sheltered in his embrace. In the second painting as Farshchian explains, the gazelle and its baby have returned to thank Imam Reza, while the hunter is remorseful.

Farshchian has painted several other paintings of religious figures from the Holy Prophet’s household such as Hazrat Abolfazl and Hazrat Ali-Asghar.