Interpretation of the harmony of the man and the cosmos in the art of Kamoliddin Behzad

Issue #2 • 42

Saidahbor Bulatov, Teacher
Kamildjan Gulyamov, Teacher
Umidjan Hakimov, Teacher

One of the famous representatives of the Eastern Renaissance is the painter and artist – Kamoliddin Behzad has created the masterpieces of pictorial art, in particular, in book illustration, portraiture, and landscape, common and historical genres. With special attention they are being studied in many countries. Studies on his life and work are being carried out. At the same time philosophical and spiritual heritage of the creations by Behzad requires the further studies (1, 2, 3).
In this article, we examine the artistic characteristics, philosophical and spiritual content of the work of K. Behzad “The Dance of the Sufis.”
At the end of the XV century in Khorasan, in the XVI – XVII centuries in Mawerranahr (Transoxiana) the miniatures of Sufi content have emerged. The doctrine of Sufism reflects the views associated with the cognition of the world, daily life, and concepts such as the world and the universe, the time and the space, the moment and the eternity, the phenomenon and the essence.
For the purpose of studying in the morning or in the evening the religious ceremonies called “Samo” (the skies) used to be conducted in Khorasan and Mawerranahr. K. Behzad participated in these rituals, learning the essence of human feelings and emotions, philosophical and psychological foundations of traditions, the meaning of the relationship between a man and the Universe, and philosophy of a perfect man, in an effort to convey his knowledge through painting the lines, forms and colors. All of his life, K. Behzad has led in the ambience of the immortal national traditions. Over time, having realized the necessity of formation of the comprehensively developed person, including the influence of the “Samo” ceremony, in 1480, in Heart, K. Behzad created the picture “The Dance of the Sufis” (4), in which he reflected the most wonderful time of the year – the spring, the revival of nature (pic. 1), which is associated with spiritual purification of people. In this piece by K. Behzad, the faces, figures and characters of people and even the universe are expressively painted. Separate parts of the painting are asymmetrical, although, in general, it was created according to the canons of symmetry. The picture is painted in the shades of brown, there are no empty spaces in its composition. The picture encourages people to see the beauty of the world.
In the background of the picture the wavelike hills, symbolically meaning a motion, are shown. Such representation of the hills reveals the basic idea of this picture. The poses of the characters are given in motion, in harmonious unity of the earth and the skies and the macrocosm in its entirety. The dashing movement of the clouds in the sky expresses the idea of this painting. Thus, the form and the content of this piece of art make an organic whole.
The drivers of the composition are three poplar trees, located in the upper part of the picture. The artist emphasizes that both Shah and the beggar should have their souls and the words in unity, while the waviness of the hills indicates the roughness of the man’s path in life. The same meaning transmits the motion of the clouds in the sky. The image in this artwork, the height of which is broader than its width, is placed in the quadrangle.
The artist have divided the Sufis into five groups in the composition, firstly, seeking to preserve a compositional balance, and secondly, to convey idea that a human being’s existence in the world is only temporary and one has to pass through various test along the way, because the number ‘five’ refers to the temporality of life. Five parts of the artist’s piece are arranged symmetrically, but at the same time, their essence is shown through dynamics (pic. 2).
Seven Sufis, sitting in a circle in the first group are people, who have already achieved perfection, they are closer to heaven. ‘Seven’ represents the number of people who achieved the age of worldly perfection. Among them are Alisher Navoi, Abdurahman Jami, Kamoliddin Behzad, and others. During the ceremony, a group of Sufis reads religious texts, verses, Hadith and prayers, while others are sing along.
In the second group on the right – there are three musicians. Two of them are playing zurna, and one – a tambourine. In conducting the “Samo” ritual the role of musicians is important, since singing their songs they touch the people’s souls. The basic instruments of musicians are nai, tambourine, and tanbour.
The musicians played a big role in bringing the Sufis to ecstasy. The beats of the tambourine were giving a rhythm to the music and dance. The plangent sounds of nay revived the grief and sadness buried deep in one’s soul, provoking tears. All this was exalting the Dervishes. If a tambourine was symbolizing the Universe, the sounds of nay, gidjak, tanbour and other musical instruments were expressing the deepest feelings of the heart (6).
In the third group, located in the center of the picture, four Sufi are dancing. The colorful robes of the two elders and a middle-aged man in exaltation have a symbolic meaning. The clothes of the young Dervishes are of darker color. The movements of the dancing Dervishes are shown by the waving long sleeves and flying tails of the motley cloaks. The dancing dervishes, placed in the center of composition, constitute the “spiritual” center of the picture.
Plastic movements of the four dancing dervishes in the center of composition are in harmonious unity with wavy hills. The Dervishes in the center of the composition dance with such inspiration that they resemble the soaring birds. The artist has depicted their motions with great mastery.
A zeal of the Dervishes, their physical movements are reflected in the dance, circular motions and jumps. Indeed, at the climax of the dance the turban fell from the head of one Sufi. Even in depiction of the belts one can also feel the movement. Waving and circular motions of the dancing Dervishes, their raised and lowered hands communicate their immersion into ecstatic state. As if their monotonous, rhythmical, spiral, waving and fluctuating motions (pic.3) ensure a harmonious fusion with the movement of the Universe (7).
In the fourth group, the Sufis and the others meditating with them to the end of the dance are falling into ecstasy and fainting. K. Behzad has depicted the state of the Sufis in exaltation, wrapped up into their feelings and dreams. In the lower part of the picture there are the Sufis, who have denied their self, have forgotten this world and immersed themselves into the eternal, divine world (pic. 4). This is the beginning and the end of the meditation in group.
The fifth group is the image of the cosmos, the upper part of which is a wavy upper part of the hill. Trees and plants are blossoming with flowers. The three poplars symmetrically depicted symbolize the grandeur and the great deeds committed by people. The wavy images of the cosmos and the earth convey the idea that life consists of joys and sorrows, and the time of the sequence of days and nights, and ultimately, a human being should not surrender oneself under any circumstances. The artist in this work has vividly depicted his own experiences and worldview through the lyrical, epic and romantic stories.
Great Behzad has given a new interpretation of the themes that reflect the aspirations and hopes of the peoples of the Middle East, and showed the beauty of the Universe, the diversity of life, creatively assimilating the traditions of Tabriz school and through bright colors reflecting the unity of a human being and nature. Feelings and experiences common to a mankind permeate the miniatures by Kamoliddin Behzad. They depict the events of the past, the life of our ancestors, and opened a window into the world of ancient civilization. The creative legacy of K. Behzad being one of the apices of the fine arts, as a magnet draws attention of the artists around the world, inspiring them to creative urge.

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