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Uzbekistan: a land multifarious geniuses. KAMALIDDIN BEHZAD (Part 2)

The biography of Kamaliddin Behzad

Born in 1455 in Herat in the family of a craftsman Kamaliddin Behzad was a great artist of the East who left a noticeable trace in the culture and art of not only eastern countries but also in the history of world culture and made a considerable contribution to its development.

As the historical sources inform, his name was Behzad but the inhabitants of Herat used to call him Kamaliddin. In one of his letters, Alisher Navai respectfully called him “His Eminency Behzad”.

Behzad became an orphan in his early years of life. A famous artist of his time Mirak Naqqash adopted him as a son and educated him. He taught Behzad the art and secrets of engraving at his own Academy of Art “Nigaristan”. The artistic environment at Mirak Naqqash’s home and at the Academy of Art “Nigaristan”, beauty and tenderness of art encouraged Behzad to study and learn the secrets of painting and engraving, and these factors played an important role in the formation of his future activities. Behzad was taught by other well-known artists as well. Some sources say that Behzad was taught by Pir Sayyid Ahmad of Tabriz. Pir Sayyid is considered to have been the student of master Jahangir of Bukhara, and, in his turn, he is supposed to have been taught by master Gung.

From the letter written by a famous artist Sultan Ali Mashhadi in the form of verse, we may conclude that he was in good and friendly relations with Behzad. The letter says: “Behzad, the dearest son to me, often used to visit me. Due to his paintings, he became dear for me as life. Although a good deal of time has elapsed since I last saw him, he is not coming to visit me”.

Alisher Navai played an important role in Behzad’s artistic perfection like the other well-known artists and poets of the 15th century in Herat. One of the main factors that led Behzad to the highest point of the arts of engraving and miniatures was that he had been in close contact with the great poet and the king of the Uzbek literature Alisher Navai. Behzad enjoyed Alisher Navai’s company and admired the poet’s ability, and tried to follow his advice and recommendations in art and culture. Being a man of quick wit and clear mind, Behzad had great interest in the fine arts and tried to learn them as much as possible. He was a lover of labour and a very diligent student.

Most historical sources of the East state that the artistic environ­ment at the “Nigaristan” Academy of Arts under the leadership of Mirak Naqqash, especially its 40 artists as well as the positive traditions of this academy played an important role in the formation of Beh zad as a famous master of art.

The fact that Kamaliddin Behzad was supported by Alisher Navai and used to attend the library of the poet may be confirmed by the content of the above-mentioned letter of Sultan Ali Mash-hadi. The details of this fact can be found in the following state­ment by a well-known historian of the 15th century Ghiasiddin Khandamir in his book “Khulasat al-akhbar”: “Master Behzad was one of the mature painters of his time. He reached the highest point in this field as he had long been under the care and support of Alisher Navai”. This fact also conforms the statement by Za-hiriddin Muhammad Babur: “Thanks to the efforts, support and care provided by Bek (Alisher Navai), Master Behzad reached the highest levels of art and earned respect and appreciation of his con-te mporaries”.

As was mentioned by the authors of the book “Amir Alisher Navai (Fani)” published in Kabul in 1968, the early creative activities of Kamaliddin Behzad developed in the court of the ruler Sultan Husain Mirza under the care and support of Alisher Navai, who was known as a supporter of the poets, artists, musicians and scholars of that time.

The fact that Alisher Navai had great influence on the creative activities of Kamaliddin Behzad is also approved by foreign sources. For instance, a famous English orientalist Edward Broun states the following in his book: “At that time such famous artists and engravers as Kamaliddin Behzad and Shah Muzaffar reached the zenith of fame and appreciation thanks to the unbiased support of Alisher Navai”.

Arif Usmanov, Doctor of Philology
Abdumajid Madraimov, Doctor of History

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