Manijeh Rezapoor

Iranian photog takes tour of Asia to cover Islamic sites on Silk Road 

April 17, 2020 - 18:17

TEHRAN – Iranian photographer Hamid Soltanabadian embarked on a cycling adventure in 2011 covering 11 Asian countries on the Silk Road to prepare a collection that represents the influence of Iranian and Islamic architecture on the monuments built along the ancient route.

Soltanabadian began his tour from New Delhi, visiting Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Tajikistan, Kirghizia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and arrived in Iran the next year.

“I took a series of photos highlighting Iranian and Islamic architecture, part of which was displayed in an exhibition in Mashhad after I returned back home,” Soltanabadian told the Tehran Times in an interview on Friday.

“The topic of Chinese Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan was other highlight of the collection, which I later displayed in Mashhad during Ramadan, while my other collection taken of people was displayed in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in an exhibition titled ‘Color and Peace’,” he said.

Soltanabadian, who is also a photography instructor and is interested in making documentaries, said that the idea was a strong wish that he and two of his friends had for a while. After the Khorasan Razavi branch of the Art Bureau and Mashhad Municipality agreed to pay part of the cost of the journey, he and friends began the year-long cycling.

“This had been my wish when I was younger. Photography was a reason to begin the tour, which was full of ups and downs and a wish that finally came true,” he added.

“I personally experienced the meaning of kindness and hospitality in the relations I had with people in different cities along the journey,” he said. 

He said that he believes the real meaning of life is to move and watch the world and keep in contact with people far from the borders.

“The variety of cultures was so exciting for me. Nothing can give one more energy and motivation than these types of journeys. My attitudes used to change every day or even every hour, and my world became as large as the sky, helping me ponder on this wide world,” he explained.

“The road was a companion, which accompanied me in thinking all in patience and silence, and my bicycle was a vehicle, which pushed me forward. And I cannot say enough about people who were the most wonderful creatures in the world for me in this journey,” he said.

“Smile was the joint language between me and the people of other lands. It worked like a miracle and had its wonderful influence in beginning a friendly relation every time,” he said.

He added that what was of great importance for him on this trip was the people and their appearance in the society. 

“I was looking to record the relations between people and the places. Colors have always excited me and I have never missed a moment to record them. I cycled among a great number of original colors and had exciting moments, and I can say that I should have recorded every moment,” he noted.

“I did not have a bad feeling in any of the countries, and each of the countries gave me good and everlasting moments, however, I had a very strange feeling in Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan. These two cities took me back to the depth of my own country and culture. Speaking with the people was an unforgettable experience for me,” he stated. 

“Of course, I should say that I also had a very strange feeling in India, as if I had entered another planet. I would like to make still another trip to India,” he added.

“I should say the trip was a unique and exciting one, which one will never forget. I believe this one-year journey was the highlight of my life and I always thank God who helped me experience it,” he concluded.

Soltanabadian has recently published an account of his cycling adventure in a book named “Bicycle Memories”.

The book has been published by Sureh-Mehr Publications and the publisher gives a discount of 10 percent to online buyers of the book.

Photo: Hamid Soltanabadian (L) and his friends pose in front of Zahir Mosque in Alor Star, the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia. 

RM/MMS/YAW
 

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