GRAPHIC ARTS. Broadly speaking, graphic art and design have a long history in Persia. Their antecedents can be seen in graphic motifs and patterns on ancient clay and metal vessels, stone reliefs, seals, brickwork, glazed tiles, plaster and wood carvings, cloths, carpets, marquetry, miniature paintings, calligraphy, and illumination of manuscripts (see CALLIGRAPHY; CARPETS).

i. In the Qajar and Pahlavi Period.

ii. In the 1978-79 Revolution and Iran-Iraq War.



Modern development. Graphic art, in its modern sense, gradually came into use with the expansion of lithography and modern typography in Persia in the second half of the Qajar period (1193-1344/1779-1925; see ùāúp). Its later development may be roughly divided into three overlapping periods: (1) from the mid-Qajar period towards the end of Reżā Shah Pahlavi’s reign (1304-20 Š./1925-41); (2) from the establishment of the Faculty of Fine Arts (q.v.) at Tehran University in 1319 Š./1940 to the late 1960s; (3) from the early 1970s to the present time.

1. In the earliest period, graphic designers or illustrators were primarily professional painters or drawers who did illustrative graphic work as a sideline, consisting mainly in illustrating some lithographic (and, later, typographic) books and periodicals of those time, and, later, in designing logos, commercial posters, and the like. They drew their inspiration mostly from motifs in traditional Persian designs, and sometimes from European models imported through Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and India.

The principal illustrators and designers of this period were: Mirzā Abu’l-Ḥasan Khan Ḡaffāri Ṣaniʿ-al-Molk (q.v.), who drew portraits for the Ruz-nāma-ye dawlat-e ʿaliya-ye Irān, the official journal of the Persian government (PLATE I); Musā, Abu Torāb Ḡaffāri, and Moṣawwer-al-Molk; illustrators of the periodicals Šaraf and Šarāfat (PLATE II); Ḥosaynqoli, working for the periodical Adab, published in Mašhad; ʿAli-Reżā, working for Jārči-e mellat, Tehran; the German artists Ruter and Schemerling, ʿAẓim ʿAẓimzāda Bākuʾi, and Bahu, illustrating the satirical journal Mollā Naṣr-al-Din, published in Azeri Turkish in Tbilisi, then in Tabriz and finally in Baku. Among the later artists of this period only the works of Frederick Talberg (PLATE III), a Swedish immigrant, and of Mušeḵ and Nāpolʾon Sarvari(ān) (PLATE IV), two immigrant Armenian brothers educated at the Moscow Academy of Arts, did have a distinctive European stamp. Talberg started his artistic activity in Tehran in about 1308 Š./1929, working mainly for government agencies, drawing pictures for various publications, and designing commercial and official logos (e.g., that of the Persian state railways, PLATE V). The Sarvari brothers, beginning their work in Tehran in 1309 Š./1930, distinguished themselves in trade publicity, stage design, and particularly in painting attractive posters for motion pictures to be hung above the entrance to movie theaters, a kind of publicity for movies that is still used today in Persia. In their workshop they also trained some apprentices, the most successful of whom was Āldo (see below).

During the reign of Reżā Shah, the best known graphic designers, apart from Talberg and the Sarvari brothers, were Ḥasan Moʾayyed Pardāzi, Yaḥyā Dawlatšāhi, and Reżā Šehābi (students of Kamāl-al-Molk’s school of fine arts); Moḥammad-Nāṣer Ṣafā and ʿAli-Aṣḡar Bahrāmi, illustrators of school textbooks; ʿAlamdār, illustrator of the popular religious epic Ḥamla-ye ḥaydari (PLATE VI); and Mirzā Naṣr-Allāh, illustrator of the popular stories Moḵtār-nāma and Čahār darviš.

2. In the second period, the Faculty of Fine Arts, with its Western-style administration and curriculum, was instrumental in bringing about a departure from old-fashioned motifs and techniques in graphic arts by training a whole new generation of graphic designers. This period may be loosely subdivided as follows: (1) In the earliest part, the prominent illustrators and graphic designers were, like their predecessors, primarily painters doing graphic work on the side. They included Mišā Girā-gosiān, a graduate of the Tashkent Academy of Fine Arts, Hāyk Ojāqiān, both designing and painting cinema posters; Maḥmud Jawādipur, Moḥammad Bahrāmi, and Parviz Kalāntari, graduates of the Faculty of Fine Arts; Jawād Hātef, Boyuk Aḥmari (posters advertising motion pictures), Teymur Rošdi, and Sirus Emāmi. (2) The second part was marked by the blossoming and expansion of graphic arts owing to several factors and developments. From the late 1950s on, some Faculty of Fine Arts graduates went in for graphic design more professionally. The creation of a special but limited academic course in graphic design by Hušang Kāẓemi (a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris) in 1959 at College of Decorative Arts (Dāneškada-ye honarhā-ye tazyini) in Tehran greatly contributed to the introduction of modern ideas, media, and techniques in graphic design in Persia. Other propitious circumstances included the following events: exhibitions of Persian graphic designers’ works from 1964 at Iran Gallery (Tālār-e Irān); creation of a full-scale section of graphic art design by the present writer in 1969 at the Faculty of Fine Arts; establishment of Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Kānun-e parvareš-e fekri-e kudakān o no-javāvān) in Tehran in 1966, which encouraged many young ambitious designers and illustrators to work on the Center’s publications and animated cartoons; the Shiraz Festival of Art (Jašnvāra-ye honar-e Širāz), organized annually from 1966 by National Iranian Television; and Tehran International Film Festival (Jašnvāra-ye bayn-al-melali-e film-e Tehrān) held from 1972 by the former Ministry of Culture and Art (Wezārat-e farhang o honar). Graphic arts thus became intimately involved in environmental design, mass media publicity, educational activities, and so on. The graphic artists prominent in this era up to the late 1960s were: Mortażµā Momayyez (PLATE VII) and ʿAli-Aṣḡar Maʿṣumi (from the late 1950s; PLATE VIII); Ṣādeq Barirāni, Qobād Šivā, and Faršid Meṯqāli (from the early 1960s; PLATE IX); Nur-al-Din Zarrinkub, Kāmrān Kātuziān, ʿAli-Akbar Ṣādeqi, and Āydin Āḡdāšlu (from the late 1960s). Some of these graphists, e.g., Momayyez and Meṯqāli, were able to make their works and the modern graphic art of Persia known internationally.

In the rather independent field of comic and satirical illustration (cartoons, caricatures), important progress was made in this period. The publication of well-known satirical weeklies such as Bābā Šamal, Tawfiq, and Čelengar, in the capital and the proliferation of newspapers and magazines in this period prepared a suitable ground for the flourishing of talented cartoonists such as Ḥasan Tawfiq, Moḥsen Davallu, Ḥosayn Banāʾi, Dāvari (or Dāvaryār), Jaʿfar Tejāratči, and, later, Kāmbiz Derambaḵš (PLATE X) and Ardašir Moḥaṣṣeṣ. The latter two deeply influenced later graphic designers and achieved international renown.

In the case of letter designing, no major progress was made owing to insufficient interest and lack of investment; the Persian press continued to imitate models used for the press and other publications in Arab countries. However, from about the middle of the second period, Ḥosayn Ḥaqiqi produced and marketed several designs for letters for use in printed texts and in the titles of periodicals.

In the field of textiles (cloths, carpets, and the like), glazed tiles (kāši), handicrafts (e.g., ḵātam-sāzi “marquetry”), etc., although designing various motifs and patterns is technically part of graphic arts, in Persia it has traditionally been considered as a separate, quasi-independent, applied art. Besides, although Persian carpets are admired for the great variety and richness of their designs, the names of the numerous carpet designers, past and present, are, with very few exceptions, not recorded on the finished products or otherwise publicized. However, Širin Ṣur-e Esrāfil’s painstaking research has resulted in the collection of considerable data on past and contemporary outstanding carpet designers from the main carpet industry centers in Persia. Similar research in other domains of traditional graphic design is still lacking. For instance, in the case of glazed tiles from the late Qajar period to early in the second period, only the names of a few kāši designers such as Ḥosayn Šarif, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, and Ḥosayn Kāšitarāš are preserved, and in designing traditional cloths we have only the name of Moḥammad Ṭariqi, who was the supervisor of zari-bāfi (brocaded silk weaving) workshops at the former Department of Fine Arts (Edāra-ye honarhā-ye zibā; later developed into the former Wezārat-e farhang o honar). In plaster relief work (gač-bori; q.v.), the prominent designers in Tehran were Ḥasan Tehrāni (nicknamed Nāḵoš), Moḥammad Aʿlāʾi, Asad-Allāh Zandi, ʿAbd-al-Karim Navid, ʿAbbās ʿĒšqi, and Asad-Allāh Borujerdi, specimens of whose works are to be found in Golestān and Niāvarān palaces, the old building of the former Majles-e šurā-ye melli (Parliament), Bāḡ-e Ferdows (all in Tehran), Emāmzāda Ḥosayn (in Qazvin), etc. The former royal palace, Kāḵ-e safid, in Tehran contains works of other master gačbors, namely, Ostād Qazvini, ʿAbd-al-Karim Šayḵān, Ḥosayn Kāši, and Ḡolām-ʿAli and Reżā Malāʾeka. In various kinds of illuminating manuscripts (taḏhib and tašʿir), outstanding artists (from the mid-Reżā Shah period to the Revolution of 1979) included Moḥammad-ʿAli Zāwia, ʿAbd-Allāh Bāqeri, and, particularly, Ḥosayn Eslāmiān (d. 1358 Š./1979; among other things, he was commissioned to illuminate the Šāh-nāma published by the former Amir Kabir Publishing Co.).

3. Most graphic designers in this period are former students of those in the previous period, and graduates of higher schools of art in Tehran. Prominent among them are Ebrāhim Ḥaqiqi, Ḥamid Nowruzi, Behzād Ḥātem, Ārāpik Bāḡdāsāriān, Aḥmad Saḵāvar, Maḥmud and Moṣṭafā Ramażµāni, and Bahrām Ḵāʾef.

Graphic art in the post-revolutionary epoch of this period witnessed two new thematic developments: the emergence of political posters, which were used by all political formations to attain their different goals, and, during and after the eight-year Irano-Iraqi war, the prevalence of politico-religious themes, mainly the following: glorification of šahādat (martyrdom) and šo-hadāʾ (martyrs); exaltation of some prominent religious leaders; war devastation termed the “holy defense” (defāʿ-e moqaddas). As for the form, in the field of political posters, for lack of previous tradition or experience, poster designers fell back on models from revolutionary socialist countries. All this could be visualized in the first exhibition of political posters set up in November 1978 by the students in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Non-Islamic political posters, however, were short-lived because of subsequent abrupt political changes. The Islamic groups began to incorporate traditional Shiʿite themes and motifs into their own posters and other illustrative works. Today politico-religious posters and other visual arts exhibit a tendency to crude realism incongruously mixed with traditional themes and motifs. A host of graphic artists have sprung up who specialize in this lingering art trend. Moṣṭafā Asad-Allāhi, Farzāna Taqawi, Moḥammad-ʿAli Bani-asadi, Manučehr ʿAbd-Allāhzāda, and Human Mortażawi are only a few of the revolutionary era artists.



Much of the information in this article is from the author’s own files and interviews (e.g., with F. Frederick Talberg, Mušeḵ Sarvari, and Āldo). See also: Abu’l-Fażl ʿAli, Dahsāl bā ṭarrāḥān-e enqelāb-e eslāmi, 1357-1367, Tehran, 1367 Š./1988.

Peter Chelkowski and Hamid Dabashi, Staging a Revolution: The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran, New York, 1999.

M. Meḥrābi, Posterhā-ye sinemāʾi, Tehran, 1371 Š./1992.

Ketāb-e gerāfik-e sāl-e 65-66, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.

Mortażā Momayyez, Ṭarrāḥi-e eʿlān/Plakate/Posters, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, 1983.

Idem, Taṣwir wa taṣawwor: majmuʿa-ye taṣwir-sāzi-e Mortażā Momayyez barā-ye našriyāt-e Irān, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

Idem, “Iran,” in Who’s Who in Graphic Design, Zürich, 1994 (where Ebrāhim Ḥaqiqi, Ghobād Šivā, and Mortażā Momayyez are represented).

Negār-ḵāna-ye Mehr-e Šāh, Panjāh sāl gerāfik-e Irān, Tehran, 1355 Š. /1976.

Širin Ṣur-e-Esrāfil, Ṭarrāḥān-e bozorg-e farš-e Irān: sayr-i dar marāḥel-e ṭarrāḥi-e farš, Tehran, 1371 Š./1992.

(Mortażā Momayyez)



The growth of the graphic arts in Persia was in direct proportion to the modernization of the country. As Persia became more industrialized and assumed an increasingly significant role on the world stage, the graphic arts began to play an essential part in articulating the country’s commercial, cultural, and political aspirations (see i. above). With the onset of the Revolution of 1978-79 and the subsequent war with Iraq, an even greater emphasize was placed upon them and they were heavily exploited to stir and inspire the public and mobilize them for revolutionary, and later, military action.

At the time of the Revolution, a large percentage of the population was still “functionally illiterate” (see education vii), although very much attuned to a wide range of mental and pictorial images going back centuries, and deeply rooted in the enduring features of the Shiʿite Muslim faith, as expressed in popular beliefs and rituals. The Revolution revitalized and transformed these rituals and images and used them for its own immediate political needs. Thus the Revolution was in full semiotic control of the representation of itself in different media, ranging from graffiti, posters, and murals to banknotes and postage stamps, thereby exemplifying how symbolic features can be used to mobilize a people (Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 9-10).

No sooner was the Revolution a fait accompli than the Islamic ideologues launched an all-out propaganda campaign for total control, organizing their own army of graphic artists to mobilize the general public and to immobilize potential rivals and opponents. For about a year and a half after the fall of the Shah, there was a flowering of arts of every kind associated with artist of various political ideologies from Constitutionalists to Communists, and embracing different styles, ranging from Socialist Realism through the beaux arts to native Persian traditions, until the secularists and leftists were, in due course, eliminated or neutralized.

The success of poster art in instilling revolutionary preparedness and the notion of sacrifice in Persia was so great that it seems to have overshadowed even the role played by poster art in the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Persian examples are further proof that posters constitute the most revolutionary genre in the graphic arts. However, this form of communication remained virtually unknown in Persia until 1941, when it came by way of the Allied Occupation following the exile of Reżā Shah. Since French culture was the dominant foreign culture in Persia into the mid 1950s, posters came to be known as āfiš (from the French affiche); later when English became prevalent, āfiš became the poster (Chelkowski, 1989, pp. 7-11).

The real explosion of poster art took place after the departure of the shah in January of 1979. Until that time, the major thrust of revolutionary art had been in the form of graffiti dashed off on walls along the streets. Quite apart from the other dangers involved, the presses needed for the production of posters were government owned.

Traditional Persian houses are separated from the streets by high walls, where graffiti, murals, and posters can easily be scrawled. Where there were no walls, billboards were erected. Art works were also carried in demonstrations. In short, the country was saturated with visual propaganda. Even words were turned into graphic art in the form of calligraphy.

PLATE I, by the master graphic artist Kāẓem Čalipā, depicts the revolutionary struggle waged with paint, ink, and blood on the walls of Persian towns. This descriptive portrayal of the Black Friday (Jomʿa-ye siāh) Massacre (18 Šahrivar 11357 Š./8 September 1978) is in the style of Socialist Realism. It is like a photograph, capturing the most commonly used revolutionary slogans painted in red and black on the walls and on the store shutters at Žāla Square in Tehran, where soldiers fired at people. A Pietà-like figure of a woman holding the head and shoulders of a dying male demonstrator occupies the center and foreground of the painting. The woman observes a strict Islamic dress code; her expression a combination of sorrow and steely determination. The man’s shirt and the bandage around his head are soaked with blood dripping onto the pavement. Tell-tale signs of a crushed demonstration—a fallen poster on a stick, a few loose bricks and a pair of shoes left on the pavement—underline the mood (Gudarzi and Sādeqsā, p. 177; see also Chelkowski and Dabashi, p. 254, fig. 15.6).

PLATE II is clearly influenced by the world-famous photograph of the American Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima Island. Here, at the center of the poster, Persian Muslim revolutionaries raise a green flag emblazoned with the Islamic confession of faith “There is no deity but God.” They are surrounded by the bodies of demonstrators mown down by the Imperial tanks, visible in the distance. In the background, the equestrian statue of the shah is being pulled down. Still in exile, the Ayatollah Ruḥ-Allāh Khomeini is very much present in spirit, as indicated by his image hovering over the crowd, fist clenched, inspiring them to fight on until victory is theirs (Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 144-45).

During the 444 days of the hostage crisis (1979-81), anti-American propaganda was often reflected in the graphic arts. The poster depicting an American Schweinhund, with dollar bills sticking out of his head and mouth, ears firmly locked, and a rolled copy of Playboy magazine in his pouch, is an embodiment of the “corrupter on earth” (mofsed fi’l-arż), in reference to a verse in the Qurʾān (Qurʾān 18:94; PLATE III; Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 158, 229).

Anti-American feeling reached its height when in a catastrophic error of identification an American warship shot down a civilian Persian airliner. In the graphic layout of this postage stamp, the body of the warship is an American flag, and the map of the Persian Gulf in the background is in flames (PLATE IV)

However, what set off the real avalanche of graphic art in Persia was the “Imposed War” (Jang-e taḥmili) with Iraq (1980-88). During the eight years of the war, every graphic artist was drawn upon to contribute to the war effort and maintain the high morale of the combatants and of the population at large. Working in a myriad of military, government, and non-government studios, they produced some of the most heartfelt and arresting wartime graphics in contemporary history.

The photograph by Moḥammad Farnud, which appeared on the dust jacket of the multivolume series The Imposed War, was transformed by Aḥadyāri Rād into a 24 x 19 m tile mural in Tehran. The mural succeeds in its potent invocation of the heroism and chivalry of these advancing fighters. The mural was so popular that it was reproduced on postage stamps, as well as in countless books and magazines (PLATE V; Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 160-61).

In another poster depicting the Persian fighters, the emphasis by the artist, Kāẓem Čalipā, is on the ethnic diversity of Iranians defending their country. The poster is called “The Guards of the Anemone Fields,” an allusion to the oilfields, whose rigs are seen in the background, under the watchful eyes of Ayatollah Khomeini (PLATE VI; Chelkowski and Dabashi, p. 159).

The protracted war with Iraq demanded much sacrifice, determination, steadfastness, from the people of Persia. In their murals, posters, illustrations, and cartoons, the graphic artists devoted themselves to mobilizing the nation and to comforting the bereaved. Another of Kāẓem Čalipā’s powerful murals, which he also made into a poster and a postage stamp, depicts “iṯār” (altruism): Under the shelter of a prayer niche stands a woman holding the dead body of a fallen hero in her arms. Her robes drape below his body like a red tulip, the symbol of selfless love and sacrifice. Behind her rises the army of white-shrouded martyrs of Karbalāʾ. The picture is framed around the three sides of the arch in three quotations from the Qurʾān: “God hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs is Paradise; they fight in his cause, and slay and are slain; a promise binding on Him in Truth, through the law, the Gospel, and the Qurʾān; and who is more faithful to his Covenant than God? . . .” (9:111); “To whomsoever fights in the cause of God, be he slain or be he victorious, on him shall We bestow a great award” (4:74) and “Truly God loves those who fight for His cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure” (61:4). There is an awesome harmony of color in this mural/poster of gold, white, and red (PLATE VII; Gudarzi, pp. 172-73). The tragic irony in this mural lies in the fact that these Qurʾānic battle cries are directed against another Muslim country, whose leader, Saddam Hossein, is commonly portrayed as Hitler; the inspiration for this came from the Allied depiction of the infamous arch-villain king Żaḥḥāk of the Šāh-nāma. Żaḥḥāk is ingeniously portrayed as Hitler by the French artist working for the Allied propaganda office, and the two serpents sprouting from his shoulders have the heads of General Tojo and Mussolini. Since this illustration quotes from the story of the defeat and capture of Żaḥḥāk in the Šāh-nāma, Żaḥḥāk/Hitler is shown as being shackled to Mount Damāvand in the style of a classical Persian miniature (PLATE VIII; Chelkowski, 1990b). In the poster dating from the war against Iraq, the artist stretches the grim face of Hitler down into the dour face of Saddam Hussein (Chelkowski and Dabashi, p. 164).

Another poster, in the style of a Persian miniature, narrates the life of Ayatollah Khomeini. In the lower right-hand corner, we see the Ayatollah progressing from young manhood to old age. In the lower left-hand corner the Ayatollah is comforting the families of the martyrs. In the center of the miniature he is host to representatives of the multi-ethnic Iranian nation. They all sit on a carpet into which is woven the figure of the legendary, Simorḡ, the icon of Persia’s mythic past with its mystical connotations. Lastly in the upper right-hand corner, the Ayatollah is seen departing this life, leaving behind his mantle. The movement, the colors, the arrangements of the figures, even the shape of the trees, rocks, and clouds have the quality of a classic Persian miniature (PLATE IX; Chelkowski and Dabashi, p. 174).

The depiction of women on posters was also closely related to war propaganda by recalling female martyrs. There are two special days devoted to women in the post-Revolution Persian calendar. One is the birthday of the Prophet Moḥammad’s daughter, Fāṭema Zahrā, which is observed as Mother’s Day (Ruz-e mādar). The other is the birthday of Zaynab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Moḥammad and the sister of Imam Ḥosayn, observed as Nurses’ Day (Ruz-e parastār). Both figures are projected as paragons of womanly virtue and fortitude (PLATES XA-Xb, below; Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 217, 253).

A postage stamp, issued in 1985, features a rally of women clad in black veils. (PLATE Xa) Above them hovers a vibrant figure, draped in a bright blood-red veil with her hand held high exhorting the rally. The palm of her hand is almost touching another palm atop the flagstaff, representing the five holy figures of Shiʿite Islam. The unfurled flags in green and white flying over the women add a dynamic forward thrust to the procession. On one of the green flags is inscribed “O Fāṭema al-Zahrā!” This design also appears in more detail on a poster (PLATE Xb; Chelkowski, 1987, pp. 556-66; Chelkowski and Dabashi, p. 217).

An almost aggressively stark portrait in support of the ḥejāb, the full covering for women, is this 20-rial postage stamp (PLATE XI; Chelkowski, 1987, pp. 556-66). The woman’s head, dead center in this stamp, is covered, but she is looking straight ahead, with the barrel of the machine gun on her back reinforcing the no-nonsense message.

The debate on proper female attire is well illustrated graphically in the first-grade Persian readers. PLATE XIIa is the illustration of a first-grade classroom during the Pahlavi era, while PLATE XIIb shows a similar classroom in the Islamic Republic of Persia. The Pahlavi illustration shows boys and girls in the same class, with both the students and teacher in casual Western style dress, in a relaxed atmosphere. In the Islamic Republic picture, the classes are segregated according to gender, and the girls and their teacher are all wearing headgear and tunic-like dresses over long loose pants (Wezārat-e āmuzeš o parvareš, 1973 and 1993). However, both the pre-Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary textbooks testify to the skill and craftsmanship of Persian graphic artists. The Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Kānun-e parvareš-e fekri-e kudakān wa now-javānān) has won several international awards in the past.

The graphic design of banknotes during both the Pahlavi era and in the Islamic Republic are also striking in their detail as well as in the clarity of their message. The 10,000-rial banknote from the Islamic Republic depicts a political march with a few important religious symbols. The banknote was issued while Ayatollah Khomeini was still alive; therefore his image appears not directly but indirectly in the form of standards carried by the demonstrators. After Khomeini’s death, his portrait became a central feature on banknotes of every denomination, as well as on postage stamps (Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 194-211, 223-24).

One of the most dramatic examples of using graphic arts as a weapon, a banner, and a rallying point for those at the front and along the supply lines was the Persian art produced during the Imposed War. The Office of Propaganda and Indoctrination (Wezārat-e tabliḡāt wa eršād) had branches at every level of the armed forces. Billboards large and small bearing slogans and graphic images were erected in unprecedented numbers all along the front lines, across the battlefields, along the supply routes, and in the rear. Such a proliferation of art in the field was feasible since, like World War I, this was largely trench warfare with little forward movement.

The text on this billboard reads: “From afar I kiss the arms and hands of you the combatants who are shielded by the Hand of God, and I take pride in this kiss” (PLATE XIII; Maḥmudi and Solaymāni, eds., p. 16; Chelkowski and Dabashi, pp. 282-91).

On the battlefront or back home, outside on a city street or within a public space, the art of persuasion has been an integral part of Persian life for the past twenty-five years.



Abu’l-Fażl ʿĀli, ed., Honar-e gerāfik dar Enqelāb-e eslāmi, Wāḥed-e entešārāt-e ḥawza-ye honari-e Sāzmān-e enqelāb-e eslāmi, Tehran, n.d.

Peter Chelkowski, “Stamps of Blood,” American Philatelist 101, no. 6, 1987, pp. 556-66.

Idem, “Khomeini’s Iran as Seen Through Bank Notes,” in David Menashri, ed., The Iranian Revolution and the Muslim World, Boulder, Col., 1990a, pp. 85-101.

Idem, “Šāh-nāma-ye Ferdowsi watablīyāt-e Engelis,” Irān-Šenāsi 2/2, 1990b, pp. 310-20.

Peter Chelkowski and Hamid Dabashi, Staging a Revolution: The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran, New York, 1999.

Sayyid Mahdi Fahimi, Farhang-e jebha: Tābloneveshtahā, Tehran, 1369 Š./1990.

Moṣṭafā Gudarzi and Dāwud Ṣādeqsā, Dah sāl bā naqqāšān-e enqelāb-e eslāmi, 1357-1367/A Decade with the Graphists of the Islamic Revolution (1979-89), Ḥawza-ye honari-e tabliḡāt-e eslāmi, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

William L. Hanaway Jr., “The Symbolism of Persian Revolutionary Posters,” in Barry M. Rosen, ed., Iran Since the Revolution, Boulder, Col., 1985.

Ḥasan Moḥammadi and Ebrāhim Solaymāni, Jelwahā-i az honar-e enqelāb: majmuʿa-ye yakom manṭaq-e jangi, Kordestān, Bāḵtarān, Ilām,Ḵuzestān,Daftar-e tabliḡāt-e eslāmi-e Ḥawza-ye ʿelmi-e Qom, Qom, 1364 Š./1985.

Ṣedā wa simā-ye Jom-huri-ye eslāmi-e Irān, Ketāb-e gerāfik-e sāl-e 65-66, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.

The Holy Qurʾān, tr. A. Yusof Ali, Riāż, 1403/1983.

War Information Headquarters, Supreme Defence Council, The Imposed War: Defence vs. Aggression, 5 vols., Tehran, 1987.

Wezārat-e āmuzeš o parvareš, Fārsi-e awwal-e dabestān, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973 and 1372 Š./1993.

(Peter Chelkowski)



(Mortażā Momayyez, Peter Chelkowski)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 17, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 2, pp. 189-199