De la poudre aux yeux

Les stratégies artistiques de légitimation des souverains d’Iran (1722-1750)

Keywords: art iranien, histoire iranienne, Nader Shah, période afsharide, propagande artistique


When asked to provide his son Nasrallah's genealogy during his marriage to a Mughal princess, Nader Shah replied, “He is the son of the sword, the grandson of the sword, the great-grandson of the sword, and so on for seven generations.” Nader and his successors, emerging from humble backgrounds and ending the prestigious Safavid dynasty's rule in Iran, faced a daunting challenge in legitimizing their rule. Unlike the Safavids, they couldn't rely solely on lineage or religious authority. While military victories played a role in their rise to power, it doesn't explain the enduring changes in Iran during this period. Art, architecture, and material culture became potent instruments in their quest for legitimacy. Palaces, ceremonial displays, and the adoption of Safavid customs conveyed regal status. Simultaneously, the construction and restoration of religious monuments portrayed devotion and highlighted distinctions from Sunni restoration and Turkish influences. Through grand structures, inscriptions, opulence, and generous gifts, rulers like Ashraf, Mahmud, and Nader embedded their legitimacy in the physical landscape, aiming to leave a lasting imprint in people's minds and assert their rightful sovereignty on the world stage.

Author Biography

Mélisande Bizoirre, Independant Scholar, Paris

A graduate of the École du Louvre, Mélisande Bizoirre first took an interest in the techniques and history of Qajar tiles. In 2020 she defended her doctoral thesis entitled "The Axe and the Nightingale. Artistic productions in Iran after the fall of Isfahan (1135/1722-1163/1750)" under the supervision of Yves Porter (Aix-Marseille University/LA3M). Her dissertation proposes a census of monuments, ornamented manuscripts and artifacts dating back to the Afghan and Afsharid eras and questions the notion of the period in through the lens of Islamic art history.

Currently working at the French National Library, she teaches the history of Islamic arts at the École du Louvre and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris. Her research focuses on Iranian art during the late modern period (17th-19th centuries).

How to Cite
Bizoirre, M. (2023). De la poudre aux yeux: Les stratégies artistiques de légitimation des souverains d’Iran (1722-1750). Manazir Journal, 5, 125–159.