Sleepless Night: Longing

You made me wait so long, so long that
I got used to missing you
You came back after a long time
I now love longing for you more
than I love you


“Longing” is a significant characteristic in the ideology of Iran. It is a spiritual path in which, one detaches from earthy concerns and wishes that which “the beloved” whishes: his own wishes are gone, he is emancipated from his wants, and in this process is where he finally beholds his nothingness. This is the moment a follower becomes a wanderer. Through withdrawal from all rationales, the hidden world reveals before his eyes and amongst the “gap” is where he approaches “the otherness”.

In the art and architecture of Iran void is an essential element; an ineffable hollow in the center that is detached but a source of attachment; that is visible but concealed. Is it the embodiment of longing? Is it depiction of “the other thing”? Is it the path towards it? Is it a mystic halt through which the beloved reveals?

Questions like these raised in the Iranian art after Islam outlawed illustration of the good. Any divine concept to any mundane object was banned to be portrayed as it was considered idolatry. It was undeniably a pause in Persian art history; however, resulted in flourishing of Persian literature. Iranians, who were politically and theologically conquered, began engaging in a cultural war of resistance and succeeded in forcing their own ways on the victorious Arabs. They used their well-founded literature which was the only legitimate media as a turn-around in narrating and picturing concepts that other media were unable to engage with. The prohibition soon became a source of prosperity and brought three-dimensionality to Persian literature that resulted in the renowned works of Rumi, Omar Khayyam and etc.

Calligraphy was one of the primary companions of poetry amongst the visual arts along this era. It as well evolved to a medium for disclosing impression beside its textual obligation. As a result, Persian calligraphy branched from Arabic calligraphy and became more fluid and free in order to equitably represent the openness of Persian poetry. The poems are mostly multi-layered and full of hidden implications. Quite harmoniously, Persian calligraphy becomes another layer of mystery in the process of storytelling. In some cases it becomes complicated to read due to its composition, as a result, conceals some words of the passage and create some gaps in the text. It is now the reader who fills in the gaps and creates his own plot. In this respect, the intention of modern arts movement is quite similar to that of the classic Persian calligraphy where the reader is being engaged in playing an active role and possessing the narration.

In later stages, Persian calligraphy becomes more about the void rather than the solid and in this respect intends to elevate the notion of the gap rather than the figures. This research aims to transcribe the qualities of Persian calligraphy into architecture. It is a translation of one media into another; a journey from the classic values of eastern traditions to the modern language of western art. Architecturally, it is an effort towards emphasizing the notion of the otherness in space: reunion of impression and space what is given less concern in our modern life’s architecture.

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