His full name was Kamal-udin Bihzad (Behzad). The title Ustad (master) is always attached to
the name of this renowned master of miniature painting. He was born in the city of Herat, in
Khorasan, and lived during the time when cultural activities were flourishing in all cities of
Khorasan including Herat. A famous painter of the time, Mirak Naqqash, taught Bihzad the art
of painting. Behzad initially worked in the Timurid royal library of Sultan Hussain Bayeqra in
Herat. After Sultan's death, Shah Ismail Safavid invited Bihzad and he settled in Tabriz. There
Bihzad worked as the director of royal library. He trained many eminent artists and thus
influenced Iranian painting to a great extend and through his work and students the miniature
paintings of India and Turkey.
More than thirty of his miniatures are remaining today. Many of Bihzad's paintings were done in
Herat Between 1486 and 1495. Bihzad's miniatures are noted for expressive gestures and poses
of figures, spatial arrangements, rich colors, realistic figures and landscapes. In his paintings,
portraits are strongly individual and in group scenes the figures are distinct. Bihzad developed
and used new, subtle color relationship and refined compositions that are important
characteristics of his paintings. The copy of Bustan manuscript n the Egyptian Library Cairo
bears his signature. He illustrated many books such as Nizami's Khamsa, now in the British
Museum, the History of Tamerlane, now in Princeton University Library, Mir Ali Shir Nawai's
Khamsa now in Bodleian Library, Oxford and a book of poems now in the Egyptian Library,
The following are some samples of his paintings. Bear in mind that the real beauty of his
paintings are not very much evident through this medium because of technical limitations.
Khamsa of Nizami: Bahram Gur killing the dragon. Herat, 1493. British Museum, London.It
represents the victory of Bahram-e-Gur in slaying a dragon. Bahram riding his horse shoots an
arrow from a distance and his horse is frightened. The dragon poised to spring crouches against
Khamsa of Nizami: Construction of the Castle of Khawarnaq. Herat, 1494. British Museum,
London. It is full of movement. It depicts the construction scene of a castle showing the work in
progress, a large scaffolding and many workers. Workers are seen preparing and carrying
different building materials.
Khamsa of Nizami: A public bath. Herat, 1494. British Museum, London. ain this painting is full
of movement depicting a scene of public bath, as was common in those days. The painting
shows some people taking bath while some others are dressing up or getting ready to bath. The
blue towels are also seen hanging.
Khamsa of Mir Ali Shir Nawai: Shaikh Iraqi overcome with emotion when parting from a
friend.Attributed to Shah Muzaffar, a pupil of Bihzad. Herat, 1485. Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Shaikh Iraqi, a poet and mystical writer, has fallen on his knees overcome with emotions at
parting from a friend as he set out for a journey. He is shown as a thin old man.
Khamsa of Nizami: Salim visiting Majnun in the Desert. Painted by a pupil of Bihzad. Herat,
1494. Biritish Museum, London. The painting depicts the visit of Salim to Majnun in the desert
where he lived among the wild animals on terms of friendship.
Khamsa of Nizami: Mourning for the Death of Laila's Husband. Herat, 1494.British Museum,
London.This painting depicts a house where people both men and women mourn. It is
remarkable for the natural and even free movement of the mourners. It is also noticeable for the
low tone of mourners clothes.
Khamsa of Nizami: Laila and Majnun at School. Herat, 1494. British Museum, London.This
painting shows a scene of a school with many boy and girl students and a teacher. The figures sit
on the ground with one leg raised slightly.
Student discussing in School: Bihzad. School of Herat. 1489. Royal Egyptian Library, Cairo.