Artists of traditional arts usually get their inspiration from nature and based on their beliefs use special methods for their artwork and follow their own particular customs.
These artists work and create art as a means of reaching personal perfection. They know that they cannot compete with the Lord and painter of the universe, but they try to move in his direction. They seek to display a glimpse of the beauty God has created and this is an expression of their love for the Almighty Lord. Reaching this level of living and love has its own specific manners and stages.These artists pick up their brushes, or conduct their artistic activities based on a certain belief and think of nothing but trying to display the beauty created by the Almighty Lord. They do not consider themselves bound by the restrictions of nature and put on paper whatever they have in their hearts.The levels of perfection achieved by the artists and the masters of traditional art are due to immersing themselves in a culture of religion and truth. These artists have special procedures and customs which include refining the soul so they can reach high levels of art and humanity. This is why there are various' codes and pacts drawn up throughout history by traditional artists which address issues such as valor, arts and their appropriate manner, especially in relation to calligraphy, as it is considered sacred, holy and one of the most important branches of traditional art. For example in the Adab ol-Mashreq written by Baba Shah Esfahani in the tenth century LH (sixteenth century AD) says that: "A writer must completely cleanse his being from bad characteristics in favor of pleasant ones, so that this goodness can be reflected in his work".It is clear that pleasant manners and actions will make an artist polite and his etiquette, customs and beliefs will be visible in his works. The book Fava'ed o1- Khotut written in the tenth century LH (sixteenth century AD) says that: "Beautiful calligraphy is achieved through three things; first, the teachings of a teacher; second, lots of practice; and third, inner cleansing."Thus for becoming an artist one needs these three things and the art student must be taught by a master and then he must practice extensively what he has learned and most important of all, he must cleanse his inner self. This important requirement can only be met by having the appropriate beliefs and following the specified customs. The book goes on to stress the need for respecting your teacher and Ostad-even more than you respect your father-and this is one of the most important customs observed by traditional artists. Another advice that is given to students is that they should be very precise in their work and should look at the work of the masters. If the student achieves any progress and creates valuable works he should not become arrogant or waste his time needlessly rather he should become more humble, polite and pious.The masters of traditional art advised their students to have good manners and pleasant actions, never to lie or backbite and always follow religious orders, especially having vozu while making artwork so they have physical and spiritual cleansing when they are working; as if it were praying and worshiping.So it is due to the goodness of the artist and avoiding anything that is bad and impure that his artwork becomes beautiful and pleasant. Anyone who cleanses his inner being and purifies themselves will become a mirror reflecting all things good and beautiful. This is how the student will gradually go up to the levels of sha'n (status) and safa (serenity) required to become an Ostad.Sha'n and safa are two of the 12 principles of calligraphy, which are emphasized in codes of practice by artists. The serenity of each artistic creation stems from the serenity of the artist himself. Serenity is an inextricable feature of good calligraphy. Status is achieved when the writer becomes so absorbed in his work that he loses track of time and finds nothing more enjoyable than practicing his writing, which he sees as the materialization of the Lord's beauty. The artists of traditional arts have never in the past or today considered themselves the creator of their works, rather they believe that they are merely a median for displaying the beauties of God and they themselves have no role in this beauty. This is why throughout the history of Islamic art we seldom see artists insisting on signing their work or identifying themselves as the creator of an artwork and usually name and think of themselves as the beggar of the Lord's mercy and forgiveness and only sign their work with subtle metaphors and with recourse to the Prophet of Islam and the Imams. For example, Aqa Najaf Esfahani, an artist from the Qajar period, would sign his work with recourse to the King of Najaf (Imam Ali).There are many examples of these types of signatures and most of them had a similar intention for mentioning their names through subtle metaphors. Another example is the signature of Mohammad Zaman which signs with recourse to Saheb oz- Zaman (Imam Mahdi) and the signature of his student Ali Ashraf is also a very nice and meaningful example. The signature is after Mohammad Ali is most righteous". This signature conveys several messages first that after Prophet Mohammad, Imam Ali is the best. Second, he has paid his respects to his Ostad (Mohammad Zaman) by bringing his name in the signature before his own and third, he has introduced himself, as being the best after his Ostad. The use of literary art is clearly visible in this signature.
odes and PactsWhen discussing the codes and pacts between artists of different artistic professions as well as the customs and principles of calligraphy, attention must also be paid to the very writing of these texts, which are very pleasant. The following are extracts from the article entitled Principles of Valor and the Way of Architects. What are known as the principles of valor have roots in the ancient history of this land and date back to the battle of good and evil, light and darkness. Ferdowsi's immortal masterpiece presents a code of ethics and a social system that promotes society to the level human dignity. In Arabic the word fata means valor and is said to be the guardian of courage, manners and generosity.
Pacts were written by enlightened people to teach and uphold principles of valor. These pacts are very useful for those who want to get to know the base and foundation of Iran's traditional arts and breathe spiritual life and fineness into their lifeless artwork.Principles of Valor and the Way of Architects writes the following on the craft and art of valiant people and their pacts: When we look through Sa'di's Bustan the pacts we find written on craft and art are as follows: 1. The industry or art they practice is something put in their trust by God and its heavenly origin must always be emphasized. 2. The condition for entering this industry or art is cleansing yourself from all things impure and adopting the manners of valiant people.3. Melting away any sense of self and arrogance in the fires of reaching the Lord and constantly preparing oneself for submission to the Lord.4. Combining the creation of the artwork with zekr from beginning to end. One should consider every part of the artwork as a loan from the Lord and recitation and the thought of the Almighty should be mixed, with the artwork in a way that its aim becomes getting closer to God.5. The give and take, or in other words, the teaching and learning that take place between the Ostad and student is dependent on the student's capacity. In the first steps the student must confront his bad manners, arrogance and egotism and prepare his being for receiving the secrets and truths about to be transferred to him. 6. The senior Ostads have an unwavering reputation and a high position and in every stage of the work their spiritual presence is assumed.
In the pacts of valor the Ostads and artists working in traditional crafts and art always relate the origin and root of their art and profession to the Prophets and Imams and consider themselves to be their followers. For example the first person to make dukes and weaving tools was Prophet Sho'aeb, and Prophet Edris was the first tailor; Prophet Noah was the first carpenter and Prophet Abraham was the first to construct a building, thus all the architects and builders are his followers and calligraphers are all admirers of Imam Ali.When we look at the manners and ways and visions of the artists of traditional arts and its masters, we recognize the origins and foundations of the art of our ancestors and realize its value and the way it was used to achieve perfection.How good it is to benefit face-to-face directly from the presence of Iran's traditional artists, who have continued this path and principles of traditional art's spiritual heritage with their life and work.