A Performance for a Nazr, A Nazr for a Performance

September 7, 2003. Seven boxes of pears. The intention: nazr — a form of pledge, an agreement with God. One hundred kilos of pears is pledged. The money comes from the sale of a piece of gold, which was no doubt precious one day, but that now there was no longer a need for it. What’s more, it had become a burden, a shackle. The 7th of September. My wish to has been fulfilled. I am grateful. I pledged that instead of the usual alms and donations, I offer people a nazr performance in a public space. Nazr is ritual and every ritual has an element of performance.


This nazr is perform in shadow of a mosque, my very own, the only mosque without a minaret, under the Naqsh-e Jahan sky, facing Ali-Qapu Place, which at one time had been the royal Safavi residence. The women of the harem would come to this mosque through an underground passage. “Sheikh Lotfollah” is the only mosque in the Islamic world intended for women. Of the two elements usually found in mosques — the male minaret and female dome — it has only the dome. A simple square-shaped geometry forms its interior space and tiled latticed windows carry the rays of light diagonally inside. It has no glory and magnificence and is beautiful and peaceful, befitting of women who had to be calm, patient and pretty.

The half-shadows of a September afternoon — the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan

A ten-meter canvas tarp is spread out in front of the mosque’s entry. Seven boxes of pears, fresh and cleanly washed, are set on top of it for the nazr. People are at first hesitant then come forth with questions, waiting for an offer. The pears are spread out over the canvas and some tumble in the half shadows, with the seductive small of their waists, their unassuming poetry hidden and revealed in their shape.

We are ready — the pears, my fiends and I — all having come from Tehran… With an offer the crowd bends over the canvas. Each takes a share, either enough for a small bite or to fill buckets and coats. With the bat of an eyelid, the spread is cleared. All the pears are gone, the ones with marks even.

A short while later the building of Sheikh Lotfollah remains along with the canvas, which the wind takes away.

In September 2003 Jinoos Taghizadeh set up a performance outside the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan Square. This was the first in the set of three “offerings” or “pledges” that she intends to perform. The timing of the two other nazr performances is contingent upon the fulfillment of their conditions. According to the customs, one should never speak of the reasons for which the pledge or nazr is done.


“A Performance for a Nazr, A Nazr for a Performance” Photo Gallery