Art State of Mind

True Tips for a Happier Life from the Miniatures of Reza Abbasi

Rute Ferreira 13 October 2022 min Read

Everyone wants to be happy and each of us has a different idea of happiness. For some, it is finishing college and getting a new job. For others, it is a whole weekend watching TV shows. But no matter what your idea of happiness is, you probably realize that in reality it is built by little things. And to make clear what we are talking about, we’ll illustrate these little things with the miniatures of Reza Abbasi.

Reza Abbasi (Riza yi-Abbasi or Reza-e Abbasi) was born in 1565 and was an important miniaturist, calligrapher, and painter. His work is categorized by the period known as Safavid, a time when the Shiite dynasty of the same name dominated Persia (between 1501 and 1736). The emperors of this dynasty understood how important art was not only for building a Shiite identity but also for business.

Many local artists were sent to study in Europe, something that had not been common before. Nor were the themes chosen by Reza Abbasi in his miniatures and paintings typical. Portraying young women (often nude) was a novelty, as was the theme of lovers. Both themes, however, proved to be for Reza Abbasi very successful among his buyers.

The miniatures of Reza Abbasi are carefully crafted with the elements of calligraphy. The artist was a specialist in portraits, and it is this genre that I present here to show you that small details make happiness.

1. Make Tea (Or Good Coffee)

miniatures of Reza Abbasi: Reza Abbasi, Saki, 1609, Golestan Palace, Teheran, Iran.
Tips for a happier life: Reza Abbasi, Saki, 1609, Golestan Palace, Teheran, Iran.

One of life’s best sensations may be to get home after a long day of work and indulge in some good tea (or, in my case, coffee). Enjoying a cuppa alone with your thoughts gives an extra charge of energy that we all need. In Saki, Reza Abbasi shows a girl in red robes who is holding a tray with three cups of tea. She’s probably holding a girls’ night and making some tea to keep them going all night long.

2. Read a Good Book

miniatures of Reza Abbasi: Reza Abbasi, Youth Reading, 1626, British Museum, London, UK.
Tips for a happier life: Reza Abbasi, Youth Reading, 1626, British Museum, London, UK.

Reading is a very enjoyable distraction and can lead you to become more and more creative. The stories you read always stay with you in some way and become part of you. In Youth Reading, Reza Abbasi demonstrates once again his care to every detail of his work. The yellow background goes very well with the reader’s yellow clothing. Abbasi was a master of yellow, don’t you think?

3. Go on a Date

miniatures of Reza Abbasi, Reza Abbasi, Two Lovers, 1630, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA.
Tips for a happier life: Reza Abbasi, Two Lovers, 1630, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA.

This is my favorite miniature among the miniatures of Reza Abbasi. This couple seems so passionate and involved that it makes me want to be in their shoes. Remember that happiness is not your lover per se, but the time you have together. Portraits of couples were some of the most requested by clients of Reza Abbasi.

4. Take Care of a Pet

miniatures of Reza Abbasi: Reza Abbasi, Young Portuguese, 1634, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, USA.
Tips for a happier life: Reza Abbasi, Young Portuguese, 1634, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, USA.

Pets are great companions. They can amuse you and keep you company and will probably love you without asking anything in return. In Young Portuguese, Reza Abbasi introduces a man and his pet dog. Look how he offers him his own drink and looks at him with so much tenderness!

5. Enjoy the Rest

miniatures of Reza Abbasi, Reza Abbasi, Reclining Nude, 1590, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
Tips for a happier life: Reza Abbasi, Reclining Nude, 1590, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.

Okay, this is difficult when you have a busy life and a lot of work. But, from time to time, you need to slow down. Take it easy and rest a little. Your mind and body will thank you, and you can always be inspired by Reclining Nudes by Reza Abbasi to choose how to recharge.

Happiness will always be our golden fleece and the search for it is part of life. Just do not forget to notice it when it appears in the details. Or in the miniatures.

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