By: Mir M.Hosseini
Prophet Mani, the great philosopher and the founder of the Manichaeism religion was executed after 5 months in prison. His faith suggested that materialism was the reason for human wrongdoings such as lies, murder, etc. He preached value of idealism and believed that children should be educated at early ages so that they have higher objectives rather than material goals. He preached goodness, truthfulness, defending the right against wrong and sobriety as key values for human perfection.
With support from the Sassanid king Shapour and his brother Mehrshad, Mani travelled to Far East, Middle East, Balkans and Egypt. Ideas of Mani and his missionaries can still be traced in many faiths. Manichaeism became one of the major Iranian religions in a country where every faith was respected.
Mani believed humans are created as vegetarians and that lust and passion towards women can corrupt a man. Unlike Sufism, Mani preached hard work and his followers were useful members of the society. Like Mazdak, Mani soon was considered a threat for the hegemony of the clergymen of his time and thus the Zoroastrian priests paved the way for his execution. The magian Kartir blamed him with blasphemy and contempt against God, a charge that deserved death sentence.
Mani was a great painter who used his art to depict his teachings.
The Sassanid king Bahram 1. Personally persecuted the 60 year old and ordered him chained and thrown in dungeon. Mani was died on Feb, 16 (or Feb 26) in 277 A.D.
After his death, systematic destruction of his works and persecution of his followers continued for centuries but his trend lived on in the hearts and souls of artists from around the world specially in Persian Calligraphy and Miniature paintings.
Mani’s school of visual arts lingered on especially in Uyghur style paintings.