Working flower and bird imprints on artworks such as pottery and murals was common since millennia BC. In the course of their evolution in Islamic period, this fine art grew to perfection thus flower and bird design gained an exclusive status as a genuine Islamic-Iranian art. Given this ancient history in national art and culture, this style was widely used in all genres of traditional arts. In the traditional art of Iranian painting, flower and bird became a branch of Persian miniature. A collection of such arts as miniature, illumination, border illustration (Tashyr), flower and birds, floral pattern, etc. have been mixed with other arts such as calligraphy and book illustration in their way of fundamental development to perfection.
Using birds in Iranian art has a long history, taking thematic roots from ancient Persian culture. “Simurgh” (phoenix), the legendary flying creature, is the most outstanding example of symbolic birds in ancient Iranian art and culture. The story of the bird is intermixed with the flowers and plants and vegetation.
It is sometimes equated with other mythological birds such as Arabic Anqa, and the Middle Persian Pahlavi Senmurw. The godly nature of Simurgh in pre-Islam ancient Persian culture has been manifested in Shahnama more than any other place. According to Shahnama, the entire life of the family of Rostam, the ancient Persian hero, is closely associated with this mythical bird, and in every trouble, Simurgh appears as “deus ex machina” to help the hero. The symbolic status of birds is not confined to Simurgh, which will be explained in the next parts of this article.
Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi