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  • Date :
  • 5/27/2009

Qahveh Khanehei Painting (coffee House style of painting)

qahveh khanehei painting

Qahveh Khanehei painting is an Iranian painting style combined with European techniques (oil and color on wall and canvas). It was about eighty years ago that this method was formed among laypeople.

The characteristic of this art is its popularity and distance from court arts. Unknown artists, who had some experience in painting on tiles, were influenced by the atmosphere and ambience of Qahveh-Khanehs, along with Shahnameh-Khani (reading verses from Shahnameh) endeavoured to create simple and beautiful views on the walls of Qahveh Khaneh and on cloths.

Though they did not have any academic instructions, these artists succeeded to occupy a place in Iranian artistic history for themselves. For its presence in narrations and Shamayel gardani (carrying the icons) Qahveh Khanehei painting may be regarded a part of Iranian painting arts. And on other hand due to its distance from painting features it may be considered among visual arts.

But, prior to illustration of this traditional and true Iranian art, we should acquire knowledge about Qahneh Khanehs. These places with their old history have been the keeper of our old traditions, thoughts and tastes. In QahvehKhanehs the narrators of Shahnameh told about national stories with much enthusiasm. Therefore, in the course of long centuries, Qahveh Khanehs took many characteristics, which are important for their extensive contact with people. In fact Qahveh Khanehs of old days played the role of today mass media. This role had its due rules and traditions, one of which being “Qahveh Khane painting”.

qahveh khanehei painting

In this style of painting, one can easily detect some elements of Miniature painting. As narration of stories in its climax incline towards poetry, the paintings of QahvehKhaneh some times tend to delicateness of miniature.

These are not much records concerning the history of this national art, because in its present form, it has been current since eighty years ago. But remaining paintings and plaster moulding indicate that some kind of this art existed in 18th and 19th centuries. For example the paintings on tiles of Chehel Sotun Palace in Isfahan have been worked under Shah Abbass II and Nader, of course most of theme are imagery (dramatic) and they are inspired by feasts, while Qahveh Khanehei painting is purely imaginary and the painter does not have any model
and what he draws is merely that which goes in his mind.

Observing the present evidences he draws an imaginary picture of, for example, Karbala desert, Ashura epic, and Resurrection day and some epical pictures which indicate the imagination and enthusiasm of painting. 

Qahveh Khanehei painting which is called Imaginary painting by many people, is an art with its recognized principles. Its main feature is retaining the genuineness of portraits, in a way that even in dealing scenes of feasts or epics; the painter makes his outmost effort to paint the faces. This feature is due to the fact that “state” and “motion” are limited in this type of painting. In each painting the faces convey the subject intended by painter to onlookers. The painter of this style is an earnest narrator who consciously or unconsciously represents the protagonists or antagonists with due emotions towards them. For example in Rostam and Sohrab, Rostam’s face occupies a large place in the painting and this shows the painter’s love of Rostam. In a religious painting the face of enemies and vicious people are as ugly as possible.

In Qahveh Khanehei painting there is no limitation of subject and the painter’s hands are free to draw whatever he desires. Due to this reason, no painting could be ever considered a criterion for other works.

In general one may divide the subjects into three groups: religious, epic, feast and amorous paintings.

qahveh khanehei painting


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Aliakbar Sanati

Jacques-Louis

Sir Antony van 

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