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The Poetics of Retreat: meditation and space at the Shrine in Mahan

Tuesday 12 February 2019, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr. Peyvand Firouzeh

The chelleh khaneh (house of retreat), a late sixteenth-century addition to the fifteenth-century shrine of the Sufi-poet Shah Ni’matullah-e Wali (d.1431) in the southern Iranian town of Mahan, is a small room covered entirely with colourful non-figural imagery and inscriptions in verse; a project carried out by a disciple of the Sufi’s descendants. After a brief overview of the Shrine complex and its socio-political and spiritual importance for the Ni’matullahi Sufis, this presentation will focus on certain elements of the retreat room’s spatial and decorative program to explore the interactions between poetry, space, and the body, as well as the relationship between architecture, textile, and talisman, and the role these interactions played in the experience of meditation.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception. All attendees welcome.


Dr Peyvand Firouzeh

Peyvand Firouzeh specializes in medieval and early modern art and material culture from the Islamic world, with research interests in sacred art and architecture, the interaction of image, space, and text, the relationship between material culture and socio-political authority, and the mobility of artistic and intellectual networks within and beyond the Persianate world. She is currently the 2018-19 Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art, in residence at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, and will join the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney from summer 2019. She holds degrees in Architecture, History of Art and Architecture, and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies from the Tehran University of Art, and the University of Cambridge and has held teaching, curatorial, and research positions in Tehran, Cambridge, London, Berlin, and Florence.


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