DP Blog
Elemental 2007-10-08

So those that have been following my photoblog in the past few months will know that I’ve been having a hard time understanding Iranian culture. Upon a general first impression, the culture is rich and poetic. But, upon closer attention, the Iranian society more generally seems diametric and egocentric. A few weeks ago I even insinuated at a predatory environment, where ‘everyone walks on the edge of viscosity, without any specific targets.’ This conclusion, based on observation of social interactions, is mostly due, in my opinion, to the immense [] pressures that exist in this country. That opinion has not changed. However, now, after having spent some time travelling in Iran, and genuinely talking to people about what it means to be Iranian, I have now learned about how multifaceted and layered Iranian identity truly is. I will post the images in the next few weeks, accompanied by the positive ideas I’ve learned from interacting with everyday Iranian peoples.

But today, I want to emphasize the importance of breaking ideas down to their most simple, elemental constituents. This is a macro shot of Tappeh Sialk in Kashan (the oldest known temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley, aged at over 6000yrs). Apparently, the original intention of building these mounds was to physically get closer to the heavens and God. It is amazing how these simple elements (mud, grass, bamboo, rock) can be utilized to form such a structure, fundamental to Iranian identity. To me, the significance of this macro image is that when the entire structure is viewed from a distance, its identity is rarely understood. It is a large brown curvaceous mound, 30m above the ground. However, it is through careful observation of the constituent parts, and a deeper understanding of intentions, that the true significance of it is discovered.

My conclusion is that Iranian identity is neither rich nor poetic; neither diametric nor egocentric. But simply, eclectic: An amazingly multifaceted cultural complex, made of hundreds of unique social, environmental and political elements; The two most dominant elements being Shi’ia Islam as the official prescribed pillar of Iranian identity, and the ancient ethno-linguistic heritage. Thus, I believe it is impossible to judge the entire structure from simply one angle. Instead, each aspect must be viewed and assessed on its own merit.

Comments (3)

  • I like it , simple and obvious ...
    saeed beheshti @ Oct-11-2007
  • Salar, I read in your "about section" you travel all around the world.

    But, are you a photo-reporter, I don't really understand if yes, because a lot of your photography are in this "style".
    Florian @ Oct-11-2007
  • Thank you Saeed, Florian.

    No, Florian, I am certainly no photo-reporter. I travel mostly for business, but take great pleasure in learning about new cultures and environments. It's a great source of personal growth.

    Salar @ Oct-12-2007

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