Art And Culture

Persian Sculpture Symbolizes Universal Knowledge

Persian Sculpture Symbolizes Universal KnowledgePersian Sculpture Symbolizes Universal Knowledge

There is an old famous saying, “Art rests with Iranians only.” Over the past centuries, it was the Persians who showed the way to the world in the various skills of art.
The history of Iran is also replete with names of eminent scholars in different fields of science, renowned for their major contributions to scientific development. The world has come to know them through the books they left behind as well as the works of art.
For the past 18 days, the international community has been closely following the Iran nuclear talks with the P5+1 in Vienna, which finally led to a deal on Tuesday (July 14).
The final agreement was announced following a plenary meeting between the two sides at the Vienna International Center, which hosts the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV). But along with Iranian and foreign diplomats attending the session, sculptures of four eminent scholars were prominent in the yard in front of the UNOV building, Honaronline reported.
UNOV is one of the four major UN offices where several UN agencies have a joint presence. The office complex located in Vienna was established in 1980.
In June 2009, Iran donated a scholar pavilion to UNOV which is placed in the central Memorial Plaza of the Vienna International Center. The ‘Persian Scholars Pavilion’ features the statues of four prominent Persian figures.

Persian Art
Highlighting Persian architectural features, the pavilion is adorned with Persian art forms and includes the statues of renowned Iranian scientists Avicenna, Abu Rayhan Biruni, Zakariya Razi (Rhazes) and Omar Khayyam.
Abu Rayhan Birouni (973-1048), considered by some as the founder of Indology, worked in various fields such as astronomy, chemistry, geography and geology. He is believed to be the first person who said the Earth rotates. He is also known as the first Muslim scholar to study India and the Brahminical tradition.
Known as a prominent alchemist, chemist, physician, philosopher and scholar, Rhazes (865-925) is widely recognized for the discovery of alcohol and sulfuric acid. He has also written numerous notes on diseases such as smallpox and chickenpox.
Avicenna (980-1037) was a Persian polymath and the father of modern medicine, who influenced many literary and scientific figures including the renowned poet Omar Khayyam. His magnum opus is an immense encyclopedic work called ‘The Book of Healing’.
Omar Khayyam (1048-1123), eminent Persian poet, astronomer and mathematician is best known for his collection of quatrains (four-line poems) ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’. ‘Rubaiyat’ is known in the West through Edward Fitzgerald’s 1859 translation.
The sculptures, all on a human-size scale, are seated with each holding a symbolic object related to their fields. Avicenna holds a book, Rhazes a laboratory tube, Abu Rayhan a globe and Khayyam, a pencil and sheets of paper.

Traditional Arch
The stone sculptures are two-meters high and the pillars surrounding them are designed after traditional Persian architecture of the Achaemenid era and found in Persepolis, Iran. An arch is placed on the four pillars, roofing the four scholars.
The whole structure is called ‘chartaghi’ in Persian and is the most famous element of Persian architecture, and because of its spiritual position in Zoroastrian temples it has maintained its prominent architectural role up to the present time.
A chartaghi consists of a shelter made of four vaults that stand on four pillars. A water basin is installed right below in the center. Sunrise, in the east, sunset in the west and the moment when the sun is at its zenith, the highest position at noon in the south, inspired Iranians to design the chartaghi as a cross (the most famous Iranian symbol for the four geographical directions), and to install a small opening in its ceiling to allow sunlight to light it up.
A thrilling moment that everybody wished to watch was the reflection of sunlight in the water basin located in the center: it resembled the struggle of light and darkness that finally ended in the triumph of light. These ancient Persian ritualistic concepts maintained their importance in the Islamic period as well.
Given the cultural background, the ‘Scholars Pavilion’ has been built on the same characteristics. Its dimensions are 2.2m x 2.2m x 3m, and is made of stones and fiber stones. It represents an Iranian national and ritualistic symbol.
Each pillar comprises a pedestal, pillar and a bull-guard capital which supports the ziggurat ceiling with 14 battlements decorated in each direction. The ceiling facade is ornamented with sun icon decorations (a sun with 12 sun rays). In each arch one of the glories of the Iranian scientific figures is presented.
Indeed, these four great Iranian scientists dispersed their knowledge in all four directions to the entire world.