Department of Art History: Research Seminar ‘Spatial Poetry, Spatial Talisman: the case of the Ni’matullahi Shrine in Mahan, Iran’
Spatial Poetry, Spatial Talisman: the case of the Ni’matullahi Shrine in Mahan, Iran
Exploring the relationship between poetry, space, and image, this talk focuses on an example featuring spatial poetry: verses written or adapted for a specific space, inscribed on its surfaces, and understood in terms of the viewer’s presence and movement within it. The space in question, a later 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 designed for meditation, covered with colourful abstract imagery and inscriptions in verse. After an overview of the room’s role within the shrine complex, the presentation will concentrate on how the room’s spatial program engages the body of the meditator in order to achieve a corporeal representation of the Sufi master. The talk will then explore how this effect, combined with inscriptions on the theme of protection, created a space that could have performed as a three-dimensional talisman.