With its intricate mosaic work and deft play of lights and colours, the interiors of the Nasir-ol-Mulk mosque in the Iranian city of Shiraz are striking. Captured on film, the photograph of this mosque titled ‘Colourful Prayers’ is part of an exhibition of photographs with the theme ‘Rowzaneh Be Iran’ (A Window to Iran) that’s on at New Delhi’s AIFACS gallery until May 9.
The exhibition showcases the work of Dr Aziz Mahdi who spent over a decade in Iran, first learning Persian, then pursuing a Master’s in Persian language and literature and finally doing a Ph.D. It was Mahdi’s fascination for Persian that saw him beginning his tryst with Iran and the country’s language, having initially graduated in History from Delhi University. So off he went to Iran on a students’ exchange programme.
The exhibition brings into convergence the passion that Mahdi says he has for photography and the love for a country where he spent many years. The exhibition, he said was to showcase a country he “saw and fell in love with”. He also wanted to share with the world the fact that “there is more to Iran that its oil and gas reserves or its diplomatic tussles with other countries.”
His travel through Iran came about after an Iranian friend told him that in order to know the real Iran, he needed to visit its different parts. During his stay and travel, not only did Mahdi discover the beautiful architectural sights in Iran but also its people. Iranians are keenly interested in Bollywood movies and Amitabh Bachchan tops the list of Indian actors popular in Iran.
With no formal training in photography, Mahdi travelled to various Iranian cities and towns armed with his DSLR. Among the photographs on display at the exhibition is one titled ‘Connected’ where he captured the shrine of Imam Reza in the city of Mashhad. Considered among the holiest of shrines in Iran, photography isn’t allowed there but Mahdi couldn’t resist clicking a picture.
The exhibition also has a photograph titled ‘Heavenly Architecture’ that is of Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque in Iran’s Esfahan province. The mosque is unusual in that it was built to enable women belonging to the royal family to offer prayers. Mahdi says this mosque is different from other mosques in Iran as it “has a more feminine soul” to it.
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