En spontanresa till Iran (Del 2 av 3) - Hafez

Del 2 - Hafez gravmonument

Medan vi var i Shiraz besökte vi poeten Hafez gravmonument. För att ta reda på flera fakta kring poeten har jag läst en text av Ashk Dahlén som översatt hans dikter till svenska, vilket också är första gången de översätts från originalspråk till något skandinaviskt språk.

Vid Hafez gravmonument.
Foto: Helia Bandeh.

Poeten Hafez var verksam under 1300-talet och kan nog sägas vara en av de mest inflytelserika diktarna inom persisk litteratur både under och efter sin tid. Hans fullständiga namn var Shams al-din Hafez och han levde 1324-1390. Han växte upp i Shiraz som under denna tid kan beskrivas som en kulturell och litterär kärna i Iran. Nämnas bör också att staden var centrum för de akemenidiska och sassanidiska riken som regerade i Mindre Asien innan införandet av islam. 

         Som ung studerade han Koranen och senare teologi, grammatik, litteratur och retorik vid en teologiskola och han visade tidigt en fallenhet för språk och poesi. Hafez tros ha skrivit upp emot 600 dikter varav 486 av dem är så kallade ghazaler – korta lyriska dikter på 5-15 verser på rim. Ghazalen kan härledas tillbaka till den gammalarabiska poesin, men har innehållsmässigt sina rötter i sassanidisk sång- och musiktradition. Dahlén beskriver honom som i första hand lyriker och inte mystiker.

Den breda trappan mellan de två trädgårdarna.

Till minne av Hafez uppfördes 1452 ett monument i en av Shiraz stora trädgårdar. För att komma fram till paviljongen i vilken hans marmorkista står, går besöken uppför en bred trappa och in i ännu en trädgård. Väl vid marmorkistan ska besökaren enligt seden lägga en hand på kistan och läsa ett par rader ur Koranen, vilket Helias vän litteraturvetaren Hassan gärna gjorde. Med djup vördnad inför denna poet och det han givit den persiska litteraturen, lade jag en hand på kistan och lyssnade till Hassans läsning.

Vid Hafez marmorkista medan Hassan läser några rader ur Koranen.
Foto: Helia Bandeh.

         Det finns även något som direktöversatt kan kallas ”Hafez-läsning”. Kortfattat går det ut på att en person kan lägga en hand Hafez diktsamling Diwan och rådfråga poeten vid svåra beslut. Genom att slå upp boken och läsa den dikt som kommer upp blir frågan först definierad och sedan även besvarad. Vi satte oss i den breda trappan vid ingången och ställde våra frågar som – precis som det är sagt – blev definierade och även besvarade.

         Sammanfattningsvis kan sägas att jag anser att detta gravmonument vittnar om den roll som Hafez spelat i den persiska litteraturen. Han har inspirerat författare och poeter i såväl Iran som resten av världen. Det visar också att litteraturen är – och länge har varit – en stor del av den persiska kulturen.


A spontaneous trip to Iran (Part 2 of 3) - Hafez

Part 2 - The grave monument of Hafez

While in Shiraz we paid a visit to the great poet Hafez’s grave monument. To get to know more facts about the poet I’ve read an article of Ashk Dahlén, who’s been translating his poems to Swedish, who also happens to be the first to translate these poems from its original language to any Scandinavian language.

By the grave monument of Hafez.
Photo by Helia Bandeh.

The poet Hafez lived during the 14th century and could be one of the most influential poets in Persian literature, both during and after his life. His full name was Shams al-din Hafez and he lived 1324-1390. He grew up in Shiraz, which during this time of history was the cultural and literary heart of Iran. The city was also the centre of the Acamenidian and Sasanian empires that ruled Asia Minor before the introduction of Islam.

As a young man, Hafez studied the Quran and later theology, grammar, literature and rhetoric by a theology school and in early years he showed a talent for language and poetry. It is believed that Hafez wrote nearly 600 poems, whereof 486 are so called ghazals – short lyrical poems of 5-15 rhyming verses. The ghazal is to be derived from the old Arabian poetry but its content has its origin in the song and music traditions of the Sasanian era. Dahlén describes him first of all as a lyricist and not a mystic.

The stair that separates the two gardens.

In honour of Hafez’s memory a monument was made in one of the big gardens of Shiraz in 1452. To get to the pavilion where the big coffin of marble is placed, the visitor will walk a really wide stair and in to another garden. At the coffin of marble one should – according to the customs – place one’s hand on the coffin and read a part from the Quran. Helia’s friend Hassan, who is a literary, gladly did this part. With the deepest of reverence of this poet and what he has given the Persian literature, I placed my hand on top of the coffin and listened to Hassan’s words of the Quran.

Hassan reading a part from the Quran by the grave monument of Hafez.
Photo by Helia Bandeh.

There’s also something called “Hafez reading”. Briefly it means that a person will place her/his hand on top of Hafez’s poem collection Diwan and ask the poet's advice when faced with hard decisions. By randomly opening the book and read the poem that shows, the question will be first defined and then answered. We took a seat at the wide stair in between the two gardens and asked our questions – as it was said – and they became defined and answered.

To sum up I’d like to say that this monument shows the important role that Hafez has had in the Persian literature. He’s been inspiring authors and poets in both Iran and the rest of the world. It also shows that the literature is – and for a really long time has been – a big part of the Persian culture.


A spontaneous trip to Iran (Part 2 of 3) - Chehel Sotoun

Part 2 - Three places

Taking a picture of the photographer outside the tomb of Saadi.

During our trip we visited a couple of places that has played a big part of the Iranian culture and history. Therefore I’d like to describe some of them a bit more specific.

First a list of the dynasties of Iran till the revolution 1979:
Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736)
Afshari Dynasty (1736-1802)
Zand Dynasty (1750-1794)
Qajar Dynasty (1781-1925)
Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979)


Chehel Sotoun

When Helia teaches Persian dance she often refers to the sources of paintings from the Safavid and Qajar Dynasties. These are to be seen in lots of books and not least on internet, but to be able to see the original paintings from this period of time is a whole other story. Some of them are preserved in Chehel Sotoun in Isfahan, completed in 1647. The name means “40 pillars” and refers to the entrance of the building which has 20 pillars. Together with the mirror image made by the pool in front of the entrance it makes up for its name of 40.

Cooling water in the pool outside the entrance.

The 20 pillars and the mirror ceiling.

Posing outside the entrence.

 Before we entered the into the big hall with the paintings Helia stopped me and calmly asked “Are you ready for this?”. We entered the hall and it was – the least to say – magnificent. Gigantic paintings covered the walls and knowing the fact that these were made during the 17th century – and thereby survived the Afghan invasion during 18th century – was indescribable.

Helia tells us about the painting that shows a banquet where Shah Tehmasp invites the Indian prince Humayun.

Two of these paintings represented big battles of the Safavid Dynasty with kind of brutal details, swords, blood and decapitated heads. Others represented pleasant banquets where regents from different countries were dining and enjoying the music and dance. One of these banquet paintings was extra interesting. It shows a banquet where Shah Tahmasp invites the Indian prince Humayun that fled to Iran in 1543.

The beautiful walls and ceiling beside the painting of the battle of Karnal in 1739.

Details of the painting of the battle of Karnal.

 

I now realise that this will be longer than I expected.
Therefore, this Part 2 will be devided into three smaller parts...

En spontanresa till Iran (Del 2 av 3) - Chehel Sotoun

Del 2 – Tre platser

Fotar fotografen utanför Saadis gravmonument.

Att ”känna historiens vingslag” är ett begrepp jag ofta kan relatera till. Att befinna sig på platser och se samma byggnader eller föremål som människor för hundratals eller kanske tusentals år sedan också sett är för mig en ofattbar känsla. Trots att jag känner till historien har jag svårt att föreställa mig livet för människorna under den tiden.

Under resan besökte vi ett antal platser som på olika sätt satt avgörande spår i den iranska kulturen och historien. Jag skulle här vilja beskriva tre av dem mer specifikt.

Lista över Irans dynastier i modern tid fram till iranska revolutionen 1979:
Safaviddynastin (1501-1736)
Afsharidynastin (1736-1802)
Zanddynastin (1750-1794)
Qajardynastin (1781-1925)
Pahlavidynastin (1925-1979)


Chehel Sotoun

När Helia lär ut persisk dans hänvisar hon ofta tillbaka till de källor som finns att tillgå, vilka till stor del är målningar från Safavid- och Qajardynastierna. Dessa finns att se i många böcker och inte minst på nätet, men att se originalmålningarna från denna period ger givetvis något väldigt speciellt. Några av dessa finns bevarade i Chehel Sotoun i Esfahan som färdigställdes 1647. Namnet betyder ”40 pelare” och kommer från byggnadens entré som består av 20 pelare som tillsammans med speglingen i poolen som ligger framför entrén visar upp just 40 pelare.

Svalkar fötterna i poolen utanför Chehel Sotoun.

Entréns 20 pelare och spegeltak.

Poserar utanför entrén.

Innan vi gick in i den stora salen där alla målningar hänger stannade Helia upp och frågade lugnt ”Är du beredd?”. Vi gick in i salen och den var minst sagt magnifik. Gigantiska målningar täckte väggarna och vetskapen om att de skapats under 1600-talet – och därmed överlevt den afghanska invasionen under 1700-talet – var obeskrivlig. 

Helia beskriver målningen där Shah Tahmasp tar emot den indiske prinsen Humayun som flydde till Iran 1543.

         Två av målningarna föreställde stora slag under Safaviddynastin med ganska brutala detaljer, svärd, blod och huvuden som huggits av kroppar. Andra föreställde istället trevliga festmiddagar där regenter från olika länder superade och njöt av musik och dans. Det var en av dessa målningar som var särskilt intressant. Den föreställer en bjudning där Shah Tahmasp tar emot den indiske prinsen Humayun som flydde till Iran 1543. I målningen kan vi tydligt känna igen dansarnas poser från vår tids dansuppträdanden i persisk dans.

En bit av det vackra taket och målningen föreställande slaget vid Karnal 1793.

Fler detaljer från målningen föreställande slaget vid Karnal 1739.

 

Mindre målning, gissningsvis tepaus i skuggan av ett träd.


Och jag inser nu att del 2 med "tre platser" kommer att delas upp i tre separata inlägg...


A spontaneous trip to Iran (Part 1 of 3) - Overview

Taking lots of photos.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I think it’s important to know the culture and history of the places where our dance originates from. But it could be hard to know where to begin, what countries to choose, not to mention to have a guide with enough knowledge to bring you to the most notable places. Since I’ve come to deepen my training in Persian classical dance, Iran has been of big interest for me and Helia has – to say the least – convinced me.

This will be a blog in three parts that focuses on different subjects of the trip. Part one will give a general view of the trip, part two will provide details of three specific places and part three will focus on my thoughts and reflections before and after the trip.


Part 1 – Overview

It all happened a bit fast from the moment in June 2017 when we decided I should join Helia for her summer trip to Iran. We booked the tickets and five days later I was on a plane on my way to Amsterdam to meet her and together continue to Iran. There was no time to get a visa from the embassy of Iran in Stockholm (it was also really hard to get in touch with them) but it was easily sorted when we landed at the airport of Teheran.

         We stayed in Teheran for three days, had a look in the bazaar, met some of Helias really sweet friends and even had time for a photo shoot. The next day we ordered a car and a driver to go to Isfahan, which was the capital of Iran for hundreds of years until Teheran was growing and finally became the capital in 1795. We went to see the Bridge of Kaju - Pol-e Khāju - ”The Bridge of the 33 arches”, that was built in the beginning of the 17th century and reaches over 300 meters across the Zayandeh River.

Pol-e Khaju "The Brigde of the 33 arches".

Meidan Emam.

         The following day the main attraction was Chehel Sotoun* ”The 40 colons” with lots of original paintings from the Safavid Dynasty, picturing battlefields and dancers and everything in between. We also visited Haasht Behesht – ”Eight Heavens” – close by, with even more paintings from the same era. Last but not least, we paid a visit to Meidan Emam* that was built in the early 1600s and can be described as a framed square that includes two big mosques; the Shah Mosque and the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque as well as the Timurid Palace from the 15th century.

Meidan Emam.

         Then it was time to move on to Yazd and the Garden of Dolat-Abad*, created around 1750 to show a classic model of Iranian architecture. Next stop was the enormous ceder tree that is about 4000 years old and is an important part of the Zorastrian religion. Helia and I said to each other ”This tree has probably seen a lot…”

Dolat-Abad.

The 4000 year old Ceder tree in Yazd.

At Delgosha.

Cooling paloodeh.

         The same evening we continued by car to Shiraz, to Helia’s parents’ home. Even though we arrived in the middle of the night, we ate dinner and talked about history and more places worth visiting.

         The first day in Shiraz we went to the Garden of Delgosha. It belongs to a pre-Islamic era, the Persian Sassanidian era and during the Safavid Dynasty it was one of the most important gardens of Shiraz. Inside of it is also a building from the Qajar Dynasty.
         After a couple of beautiful but warm hours in the garden we deserved some treat of cooling paloodeh. I found it to be like a super sweet popsicle shaped like real thin and short spaghetti, topped with some lemonade.

         What more did we do in Shiraz? Well, of course we paid a visit to the town museum and later the bazaar, with its narrow alleys filled with all the things you can think of between carpets and souvenirs to beautiful fabrics and gorgeous jewellery. Of course we also visited the tombs of the poets Saadi (1210-1292) and Hafez (1315-1390). There were beautiful buildings with gardens and amazingly beautiful tombs made of marble for everyone to pay their admiration to the poets. According to the custom, you should put your hand on the tomb of Hafez at the same time as you read a part from the Qoran, something that Helia’s friend Hassan – who just happens to have a master in literature – gladly did.

Outside the room of Saadi's marble tomb.

Painting at the Shiraz museum.

Painting at Shiraz museum.

Outside of Persepolis.

         ”You cannot go to Shiraz without visiting Persepolis” Helia’s parents said. I was thrilled to go see this magnificent ruined city about eight miles from Shiraz. I’ve always been fascinated by historical places and the thought that people actually lived there and made these kind of buildings a long long time ago, in this case about 2500 years ago. Helia was mumbling, kind of angry, that Alexander the Great burned the city just because of jealousy. I replied that he didn’t manage to destroy the place, because after all, he made it a world known tourist attraction that shows the rich culture of Iran.

I guess this would be the most classic picture of Persepolis.

Beside the starue of Shapour I.
(And yes, I was allowed to be this close to the statue.)

         I’m listening quite a lot to a Swedish history podcast and that’s where I heard about a statue situated in a cave about two hours car ride away from Shiraz. The statue is a monument of Shapour I, a Persian king who lived the years 241-272 A.D. Of course I wanted to visit the place and got accompanied by Helia’s friend Hassan. The warm and long walk up the mountain was totally worth the trouble.

         The same evening as we visited the cave of Shapour I, we went back by flight to Teheran and came closer to the end of this trip to Iran.

I almost couldn’t believe what I had seen and experienced. I understood that it was going to take a while to process all the impressions. This blog in three parts is a part of that process. I hope that you’ll enjoy the reading and that it might give you another view of Iran, a view that is not shown in the media…

___________________________
*Unesco World Heritage List


Who is Helia?

Helia is a Master of Persian dance, my main teacher in Persian dance and also a very good friend of mine. She was born in Shiraz, Iran and decided to dedicate her life to Persian dance. Like no other, Helia possesses the ability to connect with the hearts of her audience, by sharing the art of Persian Dance.