Nicky Nodjoumi, Study for Inspector's Scrutiny, 2012, 28.5h x 22.5w in / 72.4h x 57.15w cm
For centuries, Persian kingship was epitomized by two complementary pursuits: bazm (feast) and razm (fight). The ruler’s success as both a reveler and hunter/warrior distinguished him as a worthy and legitimate sovereign. The pairing of bazm and razm as the ultimate royal activities is an ancient concept with roots in pre-Islamic Iran. It is a recurring theme in the Shahnama (or Book of Kings)—the Persian national epic—as well as other poetic and historic texts.
Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 17, the exhibition Bazm and Razm: Feast and Fight in Persian Art will feature some three dozen works of art in various media, created between the 15th century and the present day. Works from the Museum’s Department of Islamic Art that illustrate the linked nature of bazm and razm will be displayed alongside corresponding works—primarily Persian—from the departments of Asian Art, Arms and Armor, and Musical Instruments. The exhibition will chart the gradual shift in meaning and usage of this pairing as it emerged from a strictly royal, or princely, context and became more widespread.
The traditional bazm—opulent and ceremonial—took place on the auspicious annual holidays of Nauruz, Mihrigan, and Sada; on the occasion of royal births and circumcisions; at diplomatic receptions; and after a victorious battle. The setting was the palace grounds, a tent, or a garden. The ruler and his court dressed in luxurious garments and jewels. Gold and silver jewel-studded services were used for wine and food, and poetry recitations were accompanied by music and dancing. The concept of razm, by contrast, accentuated the ruler’s military might, valor, and strategic knowledge as evidenced by his performance at the hunt and on the battlefield.
The exhibition is organized by Maryam Ekhtiar, Associate Curator, Department of Islamic Art.