Creative responses to ideas in Islamic art


Conference of the Birds is a PersianĀ narrative epic poem written in the mathnawi style. This style involves a double rhyme which switches after every couplet allowing the poet to write long poems following a single storyline. Conference of the Birds was written by the poet Rumi who wrote both ghazals and mathnawis. The poem is said to so embody the essence of the Quran that it is called “The Quran in Persian.” As the name suggests, it is written mostly in Persian although the Persian is mixed with Arabic, as Rumi chose to keep any excerpts of the Quran or other texts, originally written in Arabic, in their native language.

The poem follows a group of birds who go on a journey to find a leader. They are led by the Hoopoe bird, which is portrayed in my response below. I decided to try to portray the essence of the conclusion of the poem. After their journey, the birds finally reach the palace of the Simurg, who they hope will become their new leader. The journey was incredibly hard, so only thirty birds reach the palace out of the millions which started. The usher of the court tells them they can not see the King, and that they should turn back. This is devastating, as they have gone through so much to get there. Despite this, they soon see the Simurg, but in the Simurg they see themselves. In my art piece, you can see the seven valleys through which the birds traveled and the twenty-nine other birds in the background. Although all the birds were together when they saw themselves in the Simurg, I decided to just portray the Hoopoe. This is in an effort to show the individual experience that one can have when looking for themselves in God. The Hoopoe looks into a mirror in which she should have known she would see herself, but she had been looking for someone else to lead her. This reflects a Sufi ideal that God is the reflection or summation of everything there is.IMG_6679.jpg


1 Comment

  1. Very good information about this poem.

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