The Everlasting Flame : Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination
We are planning to run from October to December 2013 in the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Entitled “The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in history and imagination” it will provide a visual narrative of the history of Zoroastrianism from its birth in Iran, over 3000 years ago, to its emergence as the religion of three great Persian empires. The story will continue with the journey of Zoroastrians to India and their growth as an immigrant community under British colonial rule. The entrepreneurial success and philanthropic achievements of Parsis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will form a major part of the exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference that will bring experts from all over the world.
The recent interest in Zoroastrianism in the world has created an opportunity to showcase the history, religion and culture of this ancient faith and its shadowy but powerful influence on religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam and its historical reach into Central Asia and China. The enduring ability of the Zoroastrian communities in Iran, India, Pakistan and the wider diaspora to live in harmony in their host countries while maintaining their distinctive religious and cultural identity, often in adverse circumstances, is one of the most powerful messages of this exhibition.
The project has the support of Mrs Pheroza Godrej who will be collaborating with Mrs Firoza Punthakey Mistree – both of whom have agreed to play a curatorial role based in India.
The exhibition also has the support of Professor Frantz Grenet, Professor of Religions of the Ancient Iranian World and recently elected to the Collège de France, Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Curator of Middle Eastern Coins in the British Museum and Dr Ursula Sims-Williams, Curator of Iranian Collections at the British Library. We will be exhibiting antiquities and artefacts pertaining to the ancient Iranian civilization from the British Museum, the British Library, the Hermitage The Uzbekistan National Museum and the CSMVS in Mumbai. From the latter institution we hope to have on temporary loan some paintings from the Tata Collection in the Western Gallery.
In addition to obtaining antiquities from India and elsewhere we plan to create certain key exhibits engaging the talent of Indian designers and builders in partnership with our UK-based exhibition designer (Colin Morris Associates). The primary focus of the latter part of the exhibition is the installation of a full scale model of a Walk-in Fire Temple, which will allow visitors to experience what appears to be a continuous and ancient form of worship for over 2000 years.
One of the enduring legacies we envisage which will emerge from this exhibition will be to find a permanent location in Mumbai for this walk-in Fire Temple, allowing people to experience for the first time how the Parsis, who are so well known in Mumbai, celebrate and worship their faith. Such a permanent exhibit will help to clear the mystique surrounding fire temples in India and will be a great learning tool in the study of comparative religion and in the understanding of different faiths.
The second installation is a reproduction of the building inscription of Darius the Great at Persepolis, complete with the magnificent lions and bulls, etched on glass to scale with the facsimile in the British Museum. This would be a unique and visually exciting way of presenting the backdrop to Imperial Iran and the Persian king’s invocation of Ahura Mazda.
It is our intention to donate both the Walk-in Fire Temple and any other created materials to a permanent exhibition space dedicated to Zoroastrianism in the city of Mumbai. I should add here that an exhibition such as ours has never been done before and may also be travelling to the USA where immense interest has been shown for an exhibition on Zoroastrianism.
If you see fit to support our venture then of course you would be acknowledged in the exhibition catalogue and other literature wherever appropriate.
I would like to request that you spend a few minutes looking at the dedicated website which gives a clear idea of how we would like to present the exhibition: http://www.theeverlastingflame.com
Courtesy : Firoza Punthakey Mistree