The Conference of the Birds (Simorghs)

Image: Aurora

The coinage of the word simorgh has an interesting and profound story based on the mystical masterpiece, The Conference of the Birds, an epic Persian poem, the central theme of which is how all the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign.

The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should seek out the legendary simorgh. After a difficult and challenging journey, only 30 dedicated and passionate birds survive and manage to reach the abode of the simorgh, where they discover that the simorgh they have sought is none other than themselves – the word Simorgh in Persian means 30 (si) birds (morgh). (Aurora)

Birds have been one of my favorite subjects–the embryonic passion started to grow decades ago–I used to watch, admire, and struggle to understand their motions captured so intensely by renowned Pakistani artist Jamil Naqsh in his paintings of pigeons.

A Jamil Naqsh painting: The pigeon is one of the recurring images in Naqsh’s work.

This one (above) I had seen it, admired it, loved it, but couldn’t afford to purchase it. So I had photographed it in my memory, and saved the image in the memory bank as ‘flock of pigeons’. Now, I’ve a new title for it: ‘Conference of pigeons/doves’–full of energy, readiness to get-together, decide and move on.

A conference of politicians pic (sculpture) that I saved few years back characterizes another state of mind–the motionless, stillness in the urgency of the matter is glued all over–unlike Naqsh’s conference of pigeons splashed with colorful movements–this (below) is more like the simorghs: none other than themselves.

This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called ‘Politicians discussing global warming’

“Politicians mostly have bird-brains,” Prof. Noman (of NED, R.I.P.) once said. Hesham, who was also from NED, passed away in California during the Covid-19 would study birds in order to dig into the air dynamics behind their flying skills–his long professional career (as a design nerd) with an aircraft company demanded ‘none other than birds’ study. “These birds will tell you how to fly forward…even backward”, Hesham said to me during our last conversation the month he passed away in 2020. A Great Young Man (GYM) he was.

Random Thoughts: Irshad Salim, April 30, 2024

A comment by Habib Khan from Quetta: Great. Fariduddin Attar’s (Conference of Birds is his poem) grave in Nishabur is not far (a few kms) from that of Omar Khayyam, and though the authorities are doing a great job in their upkeep, they are ignored by the commoners compared to the other Pirs around!