Friday, April 3, 2009

The Golden Winged Disc of Persia

When I opened the retrieved files from my old computer, I found a set of designs I had done some years ago for a Persian gentleman who sold Persian-themed commemorative plates and collectibles. He had a well-stocked image library of ancient Persian motifs and decorative elements. He gave these to me and I scanned and colored them, then assembled them into designs for ceramic plates. In those days I used CorelDraw, which had excellent, adjustable background textures, one of the things I miss in Photoshop. This plate design is one of the ones I did for my Persian patron.

It features the Winged Disc of Persepolis in the center. This figure was borrowed from Assyrian and Egyptian models and adapted for the glorification of the ancient Persian King. Older scholarly studies thought it represented the Zoroastrian monotheistic God, Ahura Mazda, but more recent interpretations believe it is the Glory and the spirit of the King, who must behave righteously according to the precepts of the prophet Zarathushtra. In Persian, it's known as the faravahar, and has become, since the late 19th century, the symbol of the Zoroastrian religion. The motto that appears above the Faravahar, "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds," is the central moral belief of Zoroastrianism. Every Zoroastrian knows at least this about their religion. 

My Persian friend may or may not have made any plates with my designs; I lost contact with him when he moved away to California. I don't connect with my old Zoroastrian friends as much as I used to. But the religion of Zarathushtra remains a major influence on my life and art.

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