The Conference of the Birds in Ink

Tessellations of birds drawn using ink

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  1. nidanaushad

    May 8, 2014 @ 9:12 pm


    “The Conference of the Birds” is an epic poem by Attar that recounts the perilous voyage a group of birds undertake in search for their king Simorgh. At the end of their journey, the thirty birds that remain do not find a king, but instead they find a lake that displays their reflection. They themselves are the Simorgh. The name Simorgh comes from the Persian si morgh, which means thirty birds. This pun further emphasizes the same idea.

    The story is an allegory for the spiritual journey that Sufis take in their mission to experience God. God is inside all of us, but that short distance between God and ourselves can seem infinitely large.

    Inspired by “The Conference of the Birds”, I wanted to illustrate the idea that all humans are reflections of God. I chose to do so by creating a tessellating bird design. I first used poster board to create a stencil of a bird-like figure. I them used the stencil to draw the pattern seen above. I finally used black ink to highlight the design and detail the eyes and beaks on the birds’ faces. I had originally planned on coloring the birds, but then decided against it because I liked the simplistic nature of the black and white image. This allows the viewers to decide for themselves what birds are represented. After creating the drawing, I used my computer to juxtapose the image with its reflection. I intentionally left a small space between the two images to represent that short distance that separates us from God.

    I wanted to create a tessellation because I felt that it captured the major theme of “The Conference of the Birds”. Tessellations stretch indefinitely in all directions; the infinite nature of the design is meant to evoke the eternal nature of God. I chose to place the image next to its own reflection, first to illustrate the pivotal scene in Attar’s poem. The fact that the patterns in both reflections can continue forever, beyond the scope of the image itself, represents how God is infinite, and we too are infinite because God is within us.

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