Painting art in Persian Plateau has a long history, From 40,000 years old cave painting to Persian culture golden years during Achaemenid Empire and Sasanian Empire to recession of Persian culture during Umayyad dynasty and rising again after six hundred years in 13th century AD are all part of Persian painting vicissitude history.
Achaemenid Empire had a great impact on culture by incorporating various peoples of different origins and beliefs Before Islam, with the establishment of the Achaemenid empire and the empire dominating over the vast lands, and the cultural mixing of people in the conquered territories, the culture of this era came together in the present form.
With time passing by, and the influence of various cultures from Western Asia to Greek (Hellenistic) civilization, the culture of this region took on a new form.
Little by little, with the passage of various ages during the Sassanid Empire in the 3rd to 7th centuries AD, Persian culture and art had flourished in Persia.
The Sassanid kings paid particular attention to the mural of their palaces and the face portrait painting of the royal family in special books.
In addition to showing the greatness, authority, and the luxury of the Sasanian kings, the Negar gari art of this era expresses well the culture of the people of this land.
The importance of the art in pre-Islamic Persian culture was to such an extent that in this timespan, a man named "Mani" claimed to prophesy and promoted his religion by drawing on ideas from Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Mithraism.
Mani led groups of painters to deliver the "Manavi" faith in various areas, to invite people to this religion by drawing on "Manavi" topics. The position of painting art among the people of the Persian plateau of the Sassanid era was to such an extent that Mani the Prophet considered his miracle as painting.
An important historical point that has greatly influenced the art of Persian painting has been the government's approach to Mani and his followers; this attitude led the followers to cross from China to Africa and Europe, on the other hand, the followers of this cult were able to be well received in different societies due to the beliefs of the Manavi, which were a combination of the different religions of their time. By the migration of the Mani’s followers, Persian painting art has been transferred all over the world and it remained safe from various historical disasters, in a safe space far from its motherland.
In the 7th century AD, with the arrival of Islam in Persian plate, a great cultural change took place in this land; The ruling class, all the beliefs, and the previous lifestyles were transformed at once and a dynasty of a very different culture ruled over the people of the land. Due to religious, political and social issues, the art of painting was banned in the Persian Plateau for seven centuries and unfortunately the remains of the previous were destroyed.
It was not until the 13th century when the Abbasids dynasty, who were completely influenced by Roman and Persian culture, came to power that the prohibition of painting art ended. At first painting art was only used in the form of illustrations of fiction stories and science books.
Another important historical event that greatly influenced the art of Persian painting was the conquest of Persia territory by the Mongols under Seljuk rule, With the conquest of Persia, the two great countries of China and Persia established close relations with each other so cultural and commercial links between were established. This important historic event brought back the painting art which had been taken to Eastern lands by "The Manichaeans" seven centuries before to its homeland, the land of Persia.
The art was still limited by the public opinions and the governments, so the growth of this art subsisted solely in books illustrations only.
Until the 16th century AD, after rising the new Safavid rule, due to the new cultural and commercial relations between European countries with Persia, some limitations on the painting art were gradually reduced. It is during this period that for the first time after Islam, there was a trend towards portrait painting and miscellaneous “negargari”. These reforms and removal of restrictions continued slowly until the 19th century and the Qajar era and it was during this time that the relationship between the European and Persian painting schools culminated. After this stage, the limits of the painting were removed for the ruling class and the commons, and the art of Persian painting entered its modern era.
All that was said about the story of the ups and downs of Persian painting shows different pathways of painting art between Persian culture and that of other nations. And these differences make it impossible to classify Persian paintings with common international standards. Alongside, the art of Persian painting has been limited to illustrating books, especially religious books, to preserve its existence during the time of its restriction, which led to developing a new form of taz'hib.
Paying attention to the art of taz'hib in Persian painting has given birth to various unique styles such as tasheir, toranj, and shamseh.
The strange combination of Persian painting art with post-Islamic mysticism and its connection with a pre-Islamic aesthetic roots have made the philosophy of Persian painting art unique.