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Visualizing Belief and Piety in Iranian Shiism

10 May, 2015 11:20
Visualizing Belief and Piety in Iranian Shiism
'Flaskerud explores the visibility of popular Iranian Shi'ism in the context of concrete devotional practices and tackles questions of iconography, epigraphy, representation, emotion and subjectivity in an exemplary way with analytical depth. Developing a visual vocabulary of commodified devotional aids used in various private and communal rituals she acknowledges the sensory embeddedness of material culture. Through her historically grounded study Flaskerud aptly shows the importance of votive images in quotidian religious practice thereby providing many new insights into lived Iranian Twelver Shi'ism.' Jürgen Wasim Frembgen, Museum of Ethnology Munich & Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Munich, Germany (Jürgen Wasim Frembgen)

'From the Safavid period onwards, Iran has been the greatest source of Shi'i beliefs and rituals. It seems that almost from the inception of Twelver Shi'ism as the state religion, the visual aspects of the rituals devoted to Imam Hussein have had a profound impact on many areas of life at every level of Iranian society. From stationary and processional rituals, to the drama of ta'ziyeh, to narrative painting to posters, murals, and graffiti, the tragic events of Karbala are told and retold. During the Iranian Revolution and the "Imposed War" with Iraq, the core symbols of the Shi'i faith were appropriated as graphic images to mobilize the masses. Such images have become iconic and resonate strongly with the Iranian public. Dr. Ingvild Flaskerud's Visualizing Belief and Piety in Iranian Shi'ism is a most welcome volume which examines these rituals and images and the ways in which they continue to influence contemporary Iranian society. Her work is a tour de force which gives new and worthwhile insights into Shi'i beliefs and practices.' Peter Chelkowski, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University, USA (Professor Peter Chelkowski) 
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