Nowruz 2020

germinated wheat for nuwruz

Regrettably, as a result of the global coronavirus outbreak, the majority of Nowruz gatherings and celebrations around the world were cancelled. During these challenging times, by discussing the various revered symbolic elements of the sofreh-ye haft sinn on social media, SOFREH: The Art of Persian Celebration aspired to bring good fortune, joy, colour and beauty into the homes of those who celebrate Nowruz. The importance of the figure seven (haft) and the letter “s” (sinn) is visible in the presentations, and as germinated wheat (sabezh) is a vital and vivid part of the sofreh-ye haft sinn, it is included in all the arrangements created around the symbolic elements.

antique, hand-written Qur’an

The focus of this initial image is the treasured, antique, hand-written Qur’an which is opened on an illuminated page and placed on an attractive antique book-stand. For Muslims the Qur’an is included in the sofreh to provide guidance and protection. In some families a copy of the divan-e Hafez, a work of fourteenth century poetry, is displayed. The flames and the mirror symbolize light and reflection, respectively. A block of sabzeh enhances the beauty of the arrangement.

Germinated wheat (sabzeh)

Germinated wheat (sabzeh) is a significant part of the symbolic elements of the sofreh-ye haft sinn. Besides, in this image the emphasis on the importance of number seven (haft) is particularly evident. The focus is on seven blocks of sabzeh, the essence of this spring festival (Nowruz) and a symbol of growth and rebirth. Seven flames represent light and illuminate the arrangement. The background of the composition is elegantly and lavishly covered with ivory raw silk.

antique, silver-plated, tiered container
This arrangement was designed to present vinegar, one of the symbolic elements of the sofreh-ye haft sinn. The focus of this image is an antique, silver-plated, tiered container showcasing a variety of grapes and a pair of antique, ruby-red flasks containing red and white vinegar (serkeh). A symbol of patience, vinegar is also cherished for its medicinal properties. Blocks of sabzeh and flames, embellished with a metallic trim, are also on display. This arrangement is sumptuously adorned with draped silk fabrics.
textile and sugared almonds
In the Persian culture, sugared almonds and crystal sugar (noql o nabat) are synonymous with joy and celebrations, and represent sweetness, peace and harmony. They are part of the symbolic elements included in the sofreh, and are presented here in an antique, two-tiered, silver-plated and crystal container. In the background an antique, Persian textile (termeh), exquisitely embroidered with flowers, tendrils bows, a crown and “congratulations” written in Persian script is on display. The beauty of the arrangement is enhanced with a block of sabzeh and a pair of flames which illuminate the presentation.
bronze container holding eggs, mirror, and wheat
Eggs are also among the symbolic elements of the sofreh. In this image an attractive, antique bronze container holds a pile of eggs (a symbol of fertility), decorated in different styles. A mirror (ayeneh), a symbol of light and reflection, is laid flat on the surface. Seven coloured eggs are placed on the mirror, and it is believed that at the time of the arrival of the New Year (sal tahvil) the eggs on the mirror tremble. Two blocks of sabzeh, a pair of flames, and an antique embroidered Persian textile displayed on the lower level, enhance the beauty of this colourful arrangement.
garlic, coins, and jujube
Garlic (sir), coins (sekkeh) and the fruit of jujube (senjed) are among the symbolic elements of the sofreh-ye haft sinn. The focus of this image is an antique crystal and silver-plated sectional container, showcasing bulbs of fresh garlic that are believed to have medicinal and evil-averting powers. Sprigs of trailing ivy embellish the bulbs of garlic. Gilded coins, a symbol of wealth and prosperity, the fruit of jujube, a symbol of love and rebirth, a bouquet of spring flowers, sabzeh and flames are on display. All elements are presented over a lavishly draped length of silk.
vivid branches of sumac displayed in two attractive antique vessels
Sumac and goldfish are among the symbolic elements of the sofreh-ye haft sinn. The focus of this image is the vivid branches of sumac displayed in two attractive antique vessels. Sumac (somaq) is a symbol of plenty, growth, peace and harmony. The statuettes of fish substitute live goldfish (mahi). As water creatures, fish are a symbol of Anahita and signify a number of things including plenitude and blessing. Goldfish also represent the fish that swim in the heavenly sea of the Zoroastrian mythology and ward off harmful creatures. A length of raw silk is draped around different symbolic elements, including a block of sabzeh and several flames.
hyacinths, apples, and candles
This colourful set-up is the final display of the symbolic elements of the sofreh-ye haft sinn. An impressive arrangement of seven different colours of hyacinths (sonbol), a symbol of beauty that heralds the beginning of spring, is on display. An identical container showcases a heap of different varieties of apples (sib), which are among the heavenly fruits (miveh-ye beheshti). Apples, which are also displayed on the surface, are a symbol of health, growth and fertility. Both vessels are embellished with sprigs of ivy. A pair of flames and blocks of sabzeh illuminate and enhance the beauty of the arrangement. A length of crêpe-like metallic textile adorns the lower level of the sideboard.