The return of the birds
Leila Zelli, The return of the birds, 2020, ink, text

This project marks the arrival of Spring and Norouz - the Persian New Year - celebrated for over three thousand years in various countries that were part of the Persian Empire, such as Iran, Turkey, Tajikistan, India, Iraq, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.

Following my work on “Le chant des oiseaux” (2019), I have remained deeply attached to the symbolic significance of “La conférence des oiseaux” (1177), a tale by the Sufi poet Farid-ud-Din' Attar, which remains an essential reference in my current approach. In this mythical tale, thirty birds set off in search of their king, Simorgh. Their quest takes them through seven valleys, representing searching, love, knowledge, detachment, oneness, amazement and annihilation. It's only when they arrive at the king's palace and see their reflection in a mirror that they realize they themselves are the Simorgh they've been looking for. The very name of their king is translated from Persian as "thirty birds". This magnificent tale is a metaphor for the source of divinity that lies within each and every one of us.