The International Conference
“Arts in the Safavid Era”
dedicated to the 520th anniversary of founding of the
August 24-26, 2021, Baku, AZERBAIJAN
The new strain of coronavirus - COVID-19 - shocked the whole world and turned into a global pandemic. While the world is struggling with COVID-19, the museums, galleries, national libraries in developing countries discovered digital portals that had moved forward and provided researchers with a powerful tool, often helpful than direct access to the actual manuscript. The digital portals were a pleasant surprise as it allowed perusing, long-distance, practically all of their important Safavid illustrated manuscripts, page by page. The high resolution of their images was of immense help to this study. Similarly, museums that now offer digitized images of their collections provide a great service to researchers, especially, the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington D.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Harvard University Art Museums in Cambridge, and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, etc. What they have achieved in this respect is not only of value to researchers, but it opens the door to the general public, for items that only a privileged few could previously see and admire.
In such a difficult time, the İnternational Event Organizer Company AMİR Technical Services decided to organize the First International Conference “Arts in the Safavid Era”, dedicated to the 520th anniversary of the founding of the Safavid State.
In 1501, Ismail, who was barely twelve years old, founded the Safavid State, declared himself the ruler of Azerbaijan and Iran. He decided to conquer the world. Shah Ismail not only expanded the boundaries, strengthening the power and glory of the state, but also became a great patron of culture and art. The unique example of miniatures, books, clothing, carpets, metal, jewelry, gardens and architectural masterpieces of the Safavid era make up an important part of the world’s cultural heritage.
After the Safavid State was founded, many travelers came to Safavid territory and made some observations. While most of these travelers came to Safavids on official business as a member of an embassy, some of them came for the purpose of adventure, trade etc. and took some notes about events they witnessed. Those travelers provided us with much significant information about culture and art, life style, architectural structures, commodities, clothing, and so on, which are not found in Safavid chronicles. Later, the notes that were published and have survived were translated into various languages.
For the early research of the art of the Safavid era, miniature paintings are a very attractive topic.
Safavid miniature paintings were always produced for the elite, and mostly for manuscript illustration. As such, they were confined to libraries that only a privileged few had access to. However, with the advent of photographic techniques in the early twentieth century, the first travel enthusiasts began to discover paintings. Many art history studies of the Safavid era, carried out in the second half of the twentieth century, were based on books - albums of these enthusiasts.
Later, the art history of the Safavid era has been studied by many regional scholars from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and elsewhere. But the bibliography containing publications in the last ten years shows that the main research on the Safavid art is very popular in Turkey, Europe and North America. Literature on this subject is increasing day by day.
What caused the outbreak of interest in the art of the Safavid era?
Now, on the one hand, the digital revolution is changing the basic premises of Safavid miniature studies. On the other hand, all important collections are gradually putting their treasures online. As a result, the access problem is becoming less and less relevant.
Two decades of the 21st century are over. The development of physical methods of identification and digitalization of miniatures make it possible to reassess the art criticism studies of the Safavid era. However, now many complex and hitherto ill-understood art works require new and precise research to be reassessed. We hope that the Safavid Art Conference-2021 will give a tangible impetus to such research.
We emphasize the importance of new technologies, including Infrared Reflectography, Microscopy, Scanning of architectural elements and other methods, to better understand the cultural heritage of the Safavid era. We hope that leading art scholars will present their new results at the conference.
The initiators of the “SafavidArt2021”Conference invite researchers, academics, and practitioners to discuss common points of interest. Members of the appropriate international organizations, museums, galleries, private collectors of Safavid era artifacts and others are most welcome to participate.
We believe "SafavidArt2021" Conference will contribute to the reassessment not only Safavid, but also Medieval art history.
It is symbolic that we meet in Azerbaijan, the land famous for its ancient traditions of hospitality, a beautiful old country at the junction of Europe and Asia, on the Caspian coast, that always leaves unforgettable impressions and touches the heart of everyone who has ever visited it.
We are looking forward to meeting you in Baku / Azerbaijan in August, 2021.
On behalf of STAFF,
Prof.Dr. Vugar Aliyev
CEO and Founder
International Event Organizer Company
AMIR Technical Services