SOFREHS CREATED AFTER THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK
October, 2019. Jashn-e Mehregan is an Iranian festival which is apparently dedicated to the god of Mithra (Mehr). To read more, please visit http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/mehragan. Very briefly, in the Persian culture, Mehregan is believed to have the same significance as Nowruz, with Nowruz signalling the beginning of spring and Mehregan marking the arrival of autumn. The celebrations, which have their origins in the pre-Islamic period and are associated with agriculture and harvest, are usually held between 16 and 21 Mehr in the Persian calendar, which correspond to 8 and 13 October. Presently, sofreh is not part of the Mehregan customs, though apparently in the past it was. To mark the occasion, here is a sofreh showcasing a contemporary interpretation of past practices.
Simple Ideas for Marriage Sofreh, 2019
The following arrangements, which allude to a marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd), present some quite simple decorating ideas. They have been inspired by a variety of alluring flowers with distinct and different textures, colours and forms.
Secret Garden Rose
This dainty sofreh incorporates a single open rose, known as Secret Garden, and a few sprigs of asparagus fern. They are placed in a 19th-century Bohemian emerald green vase, with gold decoration and a medallion with hand-painted floral design. A pair of silver candle holders and a piece of antique lace are included in this natural and quiet arrangement.
Country Garden Roses
Here is another simple suggestion for decorating a marriage sofreh. It comprises only three stems of a new variety of rose, mixed with foliage. A draped crêpe-like, antique gold-coloured textile covers the vase and the surface. The arrangement is illuminated with a pair of antique gold-coloured candles and a flame, shimmering inside a lantern. Fabrics, flowers and flames are paramount in decorating a sofreh.
Hydrangeas & Lace
This is a simple suggestion, incorporating a low, rectangular, modern glass vase of hydrangeas and asparagus ferns, placed on a lavishly draped, light green raw silk. The arrangement is subtly illuminated with a pair of candelabra, and gracefully draped with a length of antique lace.
Juliet Roses & Lace
This composition is a variation on the sofreh with hydrangeas. The lavishly draped green silk forms the background. Here roses in a white, modern, upright vase have replaced the hydrangeas in a glass rectangular vase. The same candelabra illuminate the flowers, and the gracefully draped length of antique lace enhances the beauty of the arrangement. Again the importance of fabrics, flowers and flames is demonstrated in this simple arrangement.
Piano Garden Roses, Silver & Gold
These lovely garden roses, known as Piano, are at the heart of this original sofreh, which is arranged on an acrylic table, placed over a lavishly draped, crêpe-like silver textile. Several lengths of gold tulle adorn the arrangement and a fragment of lace partially covers the table. The sofreh is subtly illuminated by the flames of the tea lights in silver containers and in the “pocket” of the table. A silver bottle of rosewater perfumes the air.
New Ideas for the Wedding Season, 2019
Spring/Summer, 2019. The wedding season is upon us. A selection of new design ideas for the marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd) have been added to this page. Here are two introductory images of decorated miniature sugarloaves (kalleh qand), presented on two different antique Persian textiles. Sugarloaves reflect an aspiration for a sweet and harmonious married life.
Lace & Pearl Diamond Rose
This soft compact marriage sofreh juxtaposes the beauty of European antique lace with the striking effect of the silk, satin and velvet handmade bonbonnières, in the Persian spirit. A silver box holds an arrangement of ivory spray roses and foliage. Two pairs of silver candelabra flank the flowers. Some other symbolic elements included are ceramic pomegranates, sugared almonds, bunches of wheat and gilded coins.
Parrot Tulips & Termeh
Sensual Touch, which is a very late and rare variety of parrot tulip with variegated leaves, was the inspiration for creating this marriage sofreh. The composition includes some of the symbolic elements such as candelabra, decorated eggs and ceramic pomegranates. They are elegantly displayed on an antique, intricately embroidered Persian textile, known as termeh.
Tulips & Kilim
This arrangement on an acrylic side table, placed on an antique Afshar kilim, alludes to a marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd). The fantastic double tulips are at the heart of the composition. A folded silver-plated serving tray stands in for the mirror, surrounded by several of the symbolic elements of the marriage sofreh—candelabra, handmade bonbonnières in the Persian spirit, crystal sugar, antique gold coins and hand-painted eggs.
Tulips & Victorian-Style Bread Warmer
This arrangement on an acrylic side table, placed on fragments of an antique textile, alludes to a marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd). The fantastic double tulips are at the heart of the composition. A Victorian-style bread warmer holds the bread. Two sets of candelabra are included. A jug of rosewater and a container of sugared almonds adorned with a single gold coin are presented on a delicate silver tray. Gold tassels and trims enhance the beauty of this original arrangement.
Tulips & Ottoman Textile
This arrangement on and underneath an acrylic table, placed on raw silk, alludes to a marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd). The fantastic double tulips are at the heart of the composition. A fragment of an Ottoman textile is presented in an antique frame. The shimmering flames illuminate the arrangement. A single white ceramic pomegranate, containers of decorated quail eggs, shiny red and gold ceramic pomegranates and a ruffled container of crystal sugar adorn the composition.
This refreshing and compact sofreh features an antique silver container of bright orange Pom Pom ranunculi, a pair of candles and two birds, representing the couple. An antique Indian textile, embroidered with gold-wrapped thread and iridescent wing-cases of jewel beetles, is draped around these symbolic elements of the marriage sofreh. For more information about this type of textile, visit https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/indian-embroidery.
This soft marriage sofreh (sofreh-ye aqd), arranged on a draped antique Persian textile, showcases some of the symbolic elements of the sofreh including a mirror, candelabra, a bowl made of crystal sugar (kaseh nabat), a pair of decorated miniature sugarloaves (kalleh qand), embellished eggs and walnuts, a pair of antique, ruby red rosewater bottles and a delightful bouquet of Pom Pom ranunculi.
Blue, Gold & Silver
This delightful composition, arranged on and in front of an antique Persian brocade, features a silver container of roses, arranged around a blue ornament, a pair of candleholders, gold-rimmed tumblers showcasing crystal sugar, as well as bottles of rosewater that are displayed horizontally, and a pair of birds—some of the symbolic elements of the marriage sofreh.
Radiant Ranunculi & Termeh
This sofreh, arranged on an elaborately embroidered antique Persian textile known as termeh, showcases a silver container of dazzling Pom Pom ranunculi, a pair of candleholders, decorated eggs, crystal sugar in the form of an apple, sugared almonds speckled with gilded coins, and a delicate mirrored antique rosewater jug—some of the symbolic elements of the marriage sofreh.
Nowruz Versus Christmas
December, 2018. This unconventional and original outdoor sofreh is inspired by the symbolic elements of sofreh-ye Nowruz (haft sinn) such as germinated wheat (sabzeh), spring flowers (hyacinths and tulips), apples and pomegranates, as well as Christmas ornaments such as pine cones, nuts, and holly and pine sprigs.
The first two images present the overall composition in two different lights — before and after sunset — which demonstrate a fascinating contrast.
Shab-e Yalda, Winter Solstice
The Mehregan customs have evolved over the years, and while there are celebrations, people do not spread a sofreh. However, a sofreh was apparently part of the celebrations in the past.