After an interesting visit to the old Jewish Synagogue and Cemetery we made our way to the shrine of Pir Bakran, a Sufi saint and mystic who died in 1303 and after which this small town is named. On arrival the gates were locked, but the phone number of the guardian was posted on the inside gates. We called the number and within 5 minutes the guardian arrived on his motorbike.
The shrine is noted for the stucco work which is particularly ornate and it’s amazing to think how long ago these carvings were done. The mihrab and entrance doors are fine examples of the famous stucco and I hate to think how long it took for the craftsmen to complete them. The shrine is also famous for the surviving Kufic script which, when written in blocks as it is here, looks very much like a maze.
As Pir Bakran’s fame spread, so the building in which he preached was extended to accommodate the increasing number of followers who came to listen to him and several rooms were added. From the outside the shrine looks like it is a 4-story building but in fact it is only 2 storys high which is reminiscent of the Ali Qapu Palace in Esfahan which appears to be 7 storys high but is only 4. This is no coincidence as the architect and project manager of the Ali Qapu Palace was inspired by Pir Bakran’s shrine design and carvings 200 years later and some of the designs are reproduced in the royal Palace.
One of the rooms has a circular area carved out of the floor where apparently Pir Bakran used to sit and meditate for up to 40 days at a time eating and drinking nothing and surviving only by touching sacred stones which provided him with the sustenance he needed to see him through these lonely periods.
In an adjacent room Pir Bakran’s tomb, together with that of the shrine’s architect Mohammad Naghash rest side by side covered in green cloth.
The guardian was extremely helpful and very knowledgeable and again, this site is well worth a visit if history, Persian culture, architecture and design are what interest you. Unless you speak Farsi however, it is advisable to travel with a Farsi speaker who is able to ring the guardian and ensure that you get the most out of your visit. You won’t be disappointed.
During my last visit to Iran, I was playing with Feri’s niece Parnian who is four years old, and taught her all about “Two little dickie birds sitting on the wall…..” She in turn taught me how to say it in Farsi- ” Dota Parandeh….”
Improvising with home-made paper finger puppets was a great way to start communicating with an enthusiastic toddler and she was clearly delighted and amused with my efforts at learning to speak her language.
What Parnian doesn’t know yet however is that I asked Feri to visit IKEA and buy a set of their finger puppets to take with me so we can make up stories about frogs, lions, pandas and rabbits. Kings and Queens, ghosts and nurses. Snakes, lizards, snails and butterflies.
I just need to learn the words in Farsi now! Guess what I’ll be doing on the plane!
Well it really doesn’t seem two minutes since we were saying our goodbyes to the family and heading home from Iran last October. Now, I’m packing again and getting anxious about the journey.
Packing is so much easier now that I know what to expect, and hurray for Wallis who have yet again provided me with my perfect Anglo/Iranian wardrobe; long sleeves, long lines, and fabulous printed flowing fabrics that I know I can wear here or there quite comfortably. Wonderful! I also popped into my favourite scarf shop in Nottingham today and treated myself to a new scarf! Very decadent but it is gorgeous.
Over the next 2 days I need to keep myself busy and try not to think about the 6-hour flight to Tehran. Flying and me do not mix and I get very anxious with claustrophobia and the general feeling of being out of control which can lead to aggressive behaviour and panic attacks (brown paper bag always on hand) The Valium is also packed and I am just hoping for a smooth flight.
Esfahan is the nearest city to where we live and it has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. How lucky that it is only a 20 minute drive away. I fell in love with Esfahan at first sight and I was amazed by its stunning beauty the likes of which I have never seen. Here are a few of the sights I can look forward to;
This time round I really want to visit the Armenian Christian cathedral as it looks spectacular and strangely not out of place in a predominantly Moslem country. However, I reserve final judgement until I have seen it for myself.
So there we are two days to go until we travel and I need to wrap presents, pack my case, paint my nails and generally get ready for part 2 of my Iranian adventures. I just wish I’d been more diligent with my Farsi 😦 but I’ll get by!
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you all over the next couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy them too.
Thanks to a school friend of mine who writes her wonderful Blog, Miss Whistle, out of LA I have been reunited with the Persian poet Rumi. Like many Persians who have a natural affinity with their poets and their poetry and sit for hours reading verses to each other, my husband can recite reams of Rumi beautifully in Farsi/Persian and it’s rhythmic, lyrical cadences come alive. Whilst I don’t understand much of what he is saying, and I am not of Persian culture, I can still appreciate the craft of a wonderful poet. Here are a couple of my favourite verses;
” Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely
is made for the eye of one who sees”
Because I cannot sleep
Because I cannot sleep
I make music at night.
I am troubled by the one
whose face has the color of spring flowers.
I have neither sleep nor patience,
neither a good reputation nor disgrace.
A thousand robes of wisdom are gone.
All my good manners have moved a thousand miles away.
The heart and the mind are left angry with each other.
The stars and the moon are envious of each other.
Because of this alienation the physical universe
is getting tighter and tighter.
The moon says, “How long will I remain
suspended without a sun?”
Without Love’s jewel inside of me,
let the bazaar of my existence be destroyed stone by stone.
O Love, You who have been called by a thousand names,
You who know how to pour the wine
into the chalice of the body,
You who give culture to a thousand cultures,
You who are faceless but have a thousand faces,
O Love, You who shape the faces
of Turks, Europeans, and Zanzibaris,
give me a glass from Your bottle,
or a handful of being from Your Branch.
Remove the cork once more.
Then we’ll see a thousand chiefs prostrate themselves,
and a circle of ecstatic troubadours will play.
Then the addict will be freed of craving.
and will be resurrected,
and stand in awe till Judgement Day.