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A Fabulous Mythological Bird: 20th Environmental Art Festival in Iran - Persian Gulf- Hormoz

Report  by Ahmad Nadalian, RiverArt, February 2009


In the middle of January 2009 I traveled to Hormoz Island. In addition to my 'bicycle of peace', I realized several new environmental art projects.  In early February 2009 many environmental artists traveled to Hormoz Island to hold the 20th Environmental Art Festival in Iran, focused on the theme of "The Human and The Environment".  Most of my environmental art works created at Hormoz Island were paintings with organic colored earth.



I searched for more colors


I always love to depict the archetypal story



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Archetypal story: Earth painting


I collect feathers  



This bird can not fly anymore



I borrowed some hair from a goat


I made my own organic brush



Everything was organic, colors, brush, palette and canvas




This type of sea fish has ink



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Archetypal story: Earth painting


I was determined to recycle these glasses



Transforming ugliness into beauty

For dark colors I mixed some organic materials

I used my organic brush, ink and colored earth to produce these painting behind glass (stained glass?)


Now we can recycle these glasses and use them for paintings



I suggest that this be the handicraft of this island 

Colored earth pigments and deer are two things that tourists know of at Hormoz Island

A gift from me to people and from people to tourists


I decided to teach this type of painting to people

I taught them how to prepare the colors




For this method of painting they can use a pattern 


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A gift of Persian Gulf from me to people and from people to tourists



One of the women named Kaniz usually uses live snail, slug, cochlea and shell to make necklaces and other handcraft. This is a job of many jobless families in the Island.


I told her that catching these creatures from the sea in large scale may result in long-term environmental crises.


Kaniz and her daughter begin to paint. They start with the name of God.


One night we arrange a sale for their works.

The environmental artist bought works from them.

As a result, she produces more works.




I teach one of the local girls to use organic earth and brush to paint on hands

This is an alternative for Hana. They can paint on the hand and face of tourists and earn money





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A gift of Persian Gulf from me to people and from people to tourists



One day the people of Hormoz invited me to a holy place where they had a ritual ceremony. They wanted to pray for rain. In the holy place I learned that many years ago this location had a flat stone on which feet traces was carved.  The people believed these feet traces belonged to a holy person.  Many years ago after the Islamic revolution, some people ignored this belief and dropped the stone into the sea.  In 1982 a storm in the sea killed 500 people in the Persian Gulf.  People in Hormoz believe that this storm was the consequence of dropping stone with carved feet into the sea.  For me that carving was an art work, too. I search for a flat stone and reproduce the stone with feet traces and dedicate it to the people.



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A ritual for rain  & feet traces



Ritual ceremony for rain


As a result of this wish, we had  a good rain  that same day 


Red color flowing


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A ritual for rain  & feet traces


The people in Hormoz wished to paint a mythological bird named "Simorgh". This bird has a long history in Persian mythology and mystical literature.  I assisted them to realize this bird.




The location for this large painting is near the rock named "Sang Morghan", Stone of Birds. 


The bird in the sky witnessed this mythical and mystical king of birds



The Fabulous Mythological Bird, Simorgh can be traced back to ancient Persia.  It is a mythological and fabulous bird, and its legendary origins have been described in Zoroastrian texts.  In the Avesta, the Saena or Simorgh is described as perched on top of the tree of all seeds.  She is supposed to have carried human seed to all parts of the universe.  Traditionally the Simorgh is known as a symbol of good omen. The name Simorgh (Pahlavi- Senmurv,  Arabic -al-'anqa ) has been translated as sphinx or phoenix by European scholars.  However, during the Islamic period, this mythological fabulous bird was given new meaning and significance in epic and mystical poems.  Firdausi, in his Shahnameh, introduced the Simorgh as having helped Rustam.  Pre-Islamic mythological symbols and fabulous creatures, such as the Simorgh , was reinterpreted during the Islamic period by Moslem sages.  The link between mythological elements and mysticism can be seen in the philosophy of Suhrawardi, who in the book of Risalla-y-i Aql-i Surkh, says Simorgh builds her nest in the tree of Tuba, which is a tree in paradise.  In an allegorical poem, Attar Nishaburi (1150-1229-30) refers to the Simurq  as a symbol of Unity of Being.

The stories recounts the longing of a group of birds who desire to know the great Simorgh, and who under the guidance of a leader bird start their journey toward the land of Simorgh. One by one, they drop out of the journey, each offering an excuse and unable to endure the journey. Eventually only thirty birds remain as they finally arrive in the land of Simorgh - all they see there are each other and the reflection of the thirty birds in a lake - not the mythical Simorgh. It is the Sufi doctrine that God is not external or separate from the universe, rather is the totality of existence. The thirty birds seeking the Simorgh realise that Simorgh is nothing more than their transcendent totality. This concept has been compared as being similar to "Universal Pantheism" in western philosophy. Lahiji, M (15th century) described the Simorgh as a symbol of Divine Essence. The Simorgh, used in Persian art, has also remained one of the most important symbolic motifs throughout the Islamic period.  Persian artists inspired by Persian ancient legend brought back this mythological and fabulous motif in their artistic works.


Fourteen girls painted this large fabulous bird



One day seven girls singed song



Red earth surrounded the whole of my soul.


I depicted snakes on the face of a girl named Mithra




Archetypal story, seduce of Mother god



The process of a ritual wash



The impudence of evil polluted earth



A work by tara Ghodarzi




Wounded mother goddess

A work by Noshin Nafisi



The beauty of the hair of mother goddess

A work by Parisa Rajabian


I am very disappointed when I see people leave their garbage in nature



Unfortunately, some of these are left by people who also present their art in nature!!!


I also recycled waste material in nature and invented some new cylinder seals and printed them on the sand. 


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Transformation of ugliness to beauty

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