Here is the English abstract of Dr. Esmaeil Bani Ardalan's (Faculty Member, Tehran University of Art) speech at the first series of scientific lectures of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage titled "Theology of Pilgrimage and Art" which was held online on July 8, 2023.
Iranian Performance and Theology of Pilgrimage
This research, through contemplation on the concept of performance and its position in Iranian rituals, and by identifying its fundamental distinctions from Greek theater, demonstrates that Iranian drama can be observed in all aspects of Iranian-Islamic culture, including various forms of pilgrimage. In other words, the pilgrimage ceremonies themselves can be seen as a particular manifestation of this performance, rooted in Iranian beliefs, rituals, and thoughts. Therefore, the theological discussion of pilgrimage can be understood as a form of the theology of this performance, which connects the concept of drama with Iranian-Islamic ontology and is based on the belief in the unseen world and divine providence. Accordingly, some of the most important concepts addressed in the theology of pilgrimage including the concept of the unseen, the connection between the unseen and the tangible and material world, and divine destiny, are also central subject matters of Iranian drama. Iranian performance aims to make the intangible and invisible tangible and visible to its audience. Iranian performance has manifested itself primarily in the structure of the Persian language and its literature. Thus, artistic expressions of the unseen and divine destiny can also be found in the interpretations of Iranian classical poets. It shows that Iranian performance is not only distinct from Greek theater but also in direct contrast and confrontation with it.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi