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Poetry emotion - Shiraz

After a bus journey to Shiraz ending at 3am we treated ourselves to a day of serious lie-in, rest, washing, journal writing and iPod listening. In the early evening we emerged to wander round the peaceful and laid back town.

Shiraz is a university and administrative town and everyone seems young and chilled out. We wandered around a mosque (of course...i think this would be our fifth mosque) and a super relaxed and atmospheric bazaar (our first!). Chatting to a few people who stopped us, standing listening to the nightingales in the decorative brick arches, examining the carved backgammon boards and antique trinkets without hassle - in part i think because many stall owners were dozing out back because of Ramadan :) Even still I have a feeling this would be very different to the bazaar in tehran.

That night we had dinner in a restaurant with a live band - more ducimer, ne, tombek, daff (a drum that kind of looks like a large tambourine with chains round the egde instead of bells) violin and a singer. Everywhere we go there is old music played on old instruments and this is not just for the tourists. Last night in Esfahan we were even played some "rock" music using the Daff and traditional instruments and using Hafez's lyrics (more about him later)

The next morning we left early on a tour to Persepolis. This is the site of an ancient king where he woud recieve gifts from the dignitaries of the surrounding nations (from the carvings it looked like he had a thing for camels). It was mostly destroyed by Alexander the Great but you can still see towering pillars, carved staircases, statues and carved doorframes. It was actually rather splendid. We were taken to the tombs of the dead kings in question whose bones were "buried" a few kilometers away in huuuuuge tombs cut into the rocks after being left out to the vultures (a zoroastrian custom). They were so enormous and towering it really felt like something from indiana jones.

We spent our last evening in Shiraz doing more touristy things like visiting the walled gardens with mountains in the background, paddling in pools, visiting some more mosques and finally ended up at the tomb of Hafez for sunset. Hafez is a long dead poet who would be like our Shakespeare i suppose but much more so. Everyone here still knows, loves and quotes his work. His words have influenced Iranian music, culture and even attitudes and philosophy - we have been quoted his lyrics by people our age and younger and it's hard to describe how it sounds - even being spoken it sounds like music. So being at the tomb was a moving experience. His tomb is in a garden in a raised pegoda with speakers dotted about playing music and speaking his lyrics. People would some and sit on the pegoda steps and recite or silently read poetry from a book or kneel down to kiss the green marble coffin. Some people bought rose petals. But most people would hang about and just contemplate in the atmosphere. We even saw a man dressed in religious robes stop to bow and pray. All this for an artist - not a martyr or a warrior. There was something about this appreciation of art and beauty that made this a touching experience. We stayed here for 2 hours.

And, of course, we were approached by a curious young girl who told us about being a student in Iran and her frustrations. Her brother arrived and we had a halting translated conversation about russian and japanese literature! Hafez's cultural inspiration in action ;)

Must dig out a translation of his work when I get back to the UK. I want to know what all the fuss is about. Oh and Hafez abandoned religion after many years of faithful study and was also big wine drinker - i think i'd like him.

Posted by rachndave 01:07 Archived in Iran Tagged tourist_sites

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Hafez sounds like the right kind of guy. For an artist to influence so much. This is such an educational blog!

by Tim

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