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The Tale of Farhad the Sculptor & Shirin

Paint a sculptor

  • Starts 6 Aug
  • 199 British pounds
  • Online


Service Description

The tale of Farhad and Shirin is part of the wider more famous tale of Khosrow and Shirin. There are a few classic Romeo and Juliet style romances - we have covered Leyla and Majnun previously and there is also Vis and Ramin. In this tragedy, Khosrow actually cheats on Armenian princess Shirin - but Farhad remains true, he is the true lover and dies for his love. Khosrow is a royal and his friend Shapur the painter shows an image of Shirin to him. Khosrow instantly falls in love - and this is the subject of many a miniature painting. They keep crossing paths and missing each other in the middle of waging wars. Enter Farhad the sculptor: he is also in love with Shirin, but jealous Khosrow demands he carve a stairway out of rock to delay him (knowing it is an impossible task). The scheming king then sends a message to Farhad saying that Shirin has died. Farhad is consumed with grief and hurls himself off the rock and dies, unrequited in his love. That's why it's a sad story. Oh, and in the meantime, Khosrow cheats on her (!). But all is eventually forgiven. There are other star-crossed lovers and purposes too but those are the main bits. Eventually they are both killed by someone else's jealousy so... just desserts? I don't know. It's not my favourite tale as it's quite complex and problematic, and the characters are a bit annoying - except for Farhad and perhaps Shapur - both of the artists! If there is a tale of purer love I think that is Leyla and Majnun, and I include Farhad in that column of real lovers who are in love with love too. Some spectacular rocks to paint here because Farhad is hacking away at them, so it makes for a very atmospheric painting. It's worth devoting a whole class to this one episode for the moment it evokes. There are several painted examples of this scene; I've only included a couple here but you are free to choose another reference or design your own version of this classic. Another memorable moment is when Farhad carves a river of milk for Shirin when she is thirsty. He cuts a channel from a mountain where goats graze all the way to a pool at the foot of Shirin's palace and fills it with milk. What a guy. Wow! My dad once stopped the car for my mom when she wanted to paint her toenails on whim and he helped her to do it. They were driving near the Niagara Falls if I recall (I wasn't born yet). As a child, I thought that was romantic, but a whole river of milk is something else!

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