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The Story of Cypress   Mojgan Jahanara

Iran is a country in south west Asia. It has old history with more than 7000 years. The big area of temporary Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan Tajikistan… were Iran in the past so for study Persian art it considers the old Persian area with all these countries.

Many Iranian identify with a secondary ethnic, religious, linguistic and/or culture, like: Turkman, Kurds, Turks, Baluchis Arabs,Lurs,…

There are different climates in Iran from north to south, so there are some parts in the north near Caspian sea which is very green, some part near Persian Golf very hot and some in the center dry and desert.

Therefore water and green was very important for the Persian people from the very old time to present. Anahita is the goddess of water, helps the nature to have more water and growth in creatures.

In nature plant, and trees are one the most important which becomes symbol of the growth. Tree has a root in the earth and grows up toward the heaven, so it is between the earth and heaven, like a column. Tree receives the blue from sky and the yellow from earth so it is green. So tree is cosmic, sacred, eternal…

There are some trees becomes very important in Persian cultures, like: Cypress, Palm, Pomegranate…In the most shrines in several parts of Iran these trees are respected by the people. Cypress grows in different parts of Iran from north to south, and Palm is more in the central and south area. According to the existing area, both of them are symbolize tree of life in Iran for many years.

Cypress (Sarv) is the tallest tree and grows directly toward heaven, so it symbolizes the Hero with strong power and standing for ever. It is always green so becomes a tree of life. Sarv is a hero like a man and a source of the growth like a woman, so it has male and female power together.

In the long history of Iran the two religions of Zoroastrian (around 550 BC) and Islam (around 750 AD) are the most important. In Zoroastrian Sarv is a very important plant. They say when Zoroaster comes from the heaven to bring the God massage for the people; there were three things in his hands: Fire, Avesta (his book) and Sarv.

It is still very important plant for Zoroastrian people for giving the eternity, immortality and the green to their life.

There are two forms create cypress tree:

1. Palm (Nakhl) 2. Paisley(Botteh)..

1. Nakhl in Persian language meanes palm. It is a name of a kind of mikoshi. This mikoshi is quiet well known in the central and the south west of Iran,( the cities near the present Iraq now). It is a place of carry the body of two mythical persons, Syavash (in ancient time) who was the symbol of the freedom of a country, and Hossein (in Islamic period) who killed for a freedom also. The shape of this mikoshi (Nakhl) is exactly like a cypress to represent their eternal and forever life. From very old time to the present there is a memorial ceremony for these both heroes every year and people carry mikoshi in that. There are normaly two types mikoshi, metal and wooden one.

2. Paisley (Botteh Jegheh) is a very famous shape in all over the world. It is very ancient like a Sarv. It is illustrated in many art subjects in Iran and India. Iran and India have Indo European common roots in their cultures. It seems in Zoroastrian period specially after entering the Islam this relation improved. Therefore there are many cultural aspects influence in both countries.

Paisley characterizes the tree of life and power of growth (Botteh means a single pair of a plant). It designs in many variations with a sharp head and broken head also, and uses in Architecture, textile, tile, wooden material… designs.

Asian design studies are wide area which covers many cultures. It is a unity of the common idea which is ancient, deep, complicate, sensitive and beautiful. In each area of that there is unique style of the art.

In Iran people visualize the nature from very old time to now. So it produces a Persian design style which consists the meaning and has processes, a beginning and the ending point. This means tradition during the time created Persian custom. There are many ritual ceremonies in all over Iran and materials use in them design from heart of the people and live with them forever. The Cypress or Sarv is one of the oldest shape which is clearly shows its natural reference. It shows the important of the life, immortality, forever life for the Iranian people. There are some ceremonies for Sarv and with Sarv. The story of Sarv from 5000 years to now is the story of surviving and freedom of Iranian people.



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