Creative Commons: Attar’s ‘Conference of the Birds’
October 24, 2006
This image of this painting by Habib Allah (c.1600) “The Concourse of the Birds” is available from the Wikimedia Commons. The original is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is an illustration of the Persian mystic, Faridu’ud-Din Attar’s allegory (c.1100?) “The Conference of the Birds” which I believe is also called Mantiqu’t-Tayr Language of the Birds. This work may have inspired Herman Hesse’s “Journey to the East.” It describes the seeker’s parallel journey to self-discovery, self-actualization, self-realization through the elusive search for God.
Tag clouds, Head in the Clouds, Love and Cyberdelirium
Attar is said to have met Jalálu’d-Dín Rúmí (1207-1273 A.D.) when the latter was still a child enkindling (sp.) him with the insatiable longing for the illusive and unknowable divine essence of all things. (I believe both these Persian mystics, who of course had great impact on Persian literature, also influenced European writers such as the German Romantic poets? Their work is important to me in terms of its philosophical, political and ethical implications during the period of colonization. But that’s another tag cloud.)
And I know she and I share a deep love for the Seven Valleys Haft-Vádí (1860). The Seven Valleys includes references and/or citations from Attar, Rúmí and Layla and Majnun.
According to Wikipedia, Kurdish poet Nezami (1100s?)’s famous adaptation of the story of Layla and Majnun (Leyli and Madjnun) from Arab folklore reads astonishingly like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I believe that Layla and Majnin are to the East what Romeo and Juliet are to the West? There is even a suggestion that Eric Clapton’s song Layla was inspired by this Arab-Persian-Turkish-Kurd classic.
My Favourite citations-within-citations from Seven Valleys – Haft-Vádí (1860)
In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.
Split the atom’s heart, and lo! Within it thou wilt find a sun.
From the Wikipedia entry on Seven Valleys – Haft-Vádí (1860)
the path of the soul on a spiritual journey passing through different stages, from this world to other realms which are closer to God, as first described by the 12th Century Sufi poet Attar in his Conference of the Birds. Bahá’u'lláh in the work explains the meanings and the significance of the seven stages. In the introduction, Bahá’u'lláh says “Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities.” The stages are accomplished in order, and the goal of the journey is to follow “the Right Path”, “abandon the drop of life and come to the sea of the Life-Bestower”, and “gaze on the Beloved”.