For Neda

I’m not at all a political person but the recent events in Iran struck me particularly the senseless death of a young woman named Neda. A common Persian name, Neda means “divine message, voice, or calling.” I was reminded that the museum has a great collection of art from Iran including this object called “Vase in form of mother and child” approx. 1100–1200.


I don’t know much about this vase but it reminds me of Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pieta, his final sculpture until his death in 1564, in which he revisited the theme of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ. It was produced at a time when Michelangelo was thinking about his own mortality and his spirituality was also growing. When viewing the sculpture from certain angles, it looks as if Jesus is holding Mary up with his back, instead of Mary cradling Jesus. It is said that Michelangelo carefully crafted it this way to represent how Jesus’s spirit might actually have been comforting Mary in her loss. Compared to the museum’s vase, I like both objects for their utter simplicity and yet speaks volumes. Somewhere in Iran, a mother is also grieving for her child. In times like these, sometimes we turn to art to give us comfort and I certainly hope these objects provide that.

7 Responses to “For Neda”

  1. mangolassi  on June 22nd, 2009 at 11:39 am

    A beautiful post, thank you. It can be difficult in face of such loss, but may we take comfort in mankind’s higher nature when our lower impulses wreak such destruction.

  2. bittermelon  on June 22nd, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Thoughtful and timely, thanks.

  3. tuscanycat  on June 22nd, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Well said mangolassi. Events like these, as emotional and destructive as they are, can sometimes draw inspiration as it allows you to look within and find comfort in things familiar to you.

  4. sfmike  on June 22nd, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Please don’t take offense, and I do love Michelangelo statues, but one of the things I most love about the Asian Art Museum is that there isn’t dead Jesus iconography everywhere, as there is in any Western art museum.

  5. tuscanycat  on June 23rd, 2009 at 7:48 am

    You’re right sfmike and that’s what makes the museum unique. But I’m more familiar with western art and as an artist growing up, that was what I turned to for inspiration. After working for the museum for so many years, I’ve grown to appreciate Asian art too but I like art in general, in all its forms.

  6. nico  on June 26th, 2009 at 9:18 am

    thanks for that–all of this makes for so many thoughts swirling about the old head that I haven’t even gotten close to putting down words. you said it, brother.

  7. tuscanycat  on June 26th, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Thanks nico. Sometimes, words cannot express what the heart feels…


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