The dance of Soma and Psyche
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“How colourless and formless I am. When will I ever see the am that I am?” (Lewis, 2000, p.355) This quote by the 13th century poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi refers to ecstasy and formlessness. According to him, ecstasy is a state in which one is taken away from reality. What happens during ecstasy is a transformation in the abstract perception of time and space. It is the moment of unconsciousness when one’s true identity is unveiled and can be experienced through Sema dance. Sema dance is a meditative ritual that embodies divine movement and the experience of ecstasy through bodily gestures with its roots created by Rumi. Sema dance is part of Sufism, which is in turn a core part of Islamic philosophy and mysticism (Sufism, 2009). The same body movement can also be depicted through the static representation of traditional Islamic calligraphy. By translating calligraphy into architecture in this way, it is possible to explore both the corporeal experience of the dance movement and the spatial experience of a structure as well. Through an interior architectural project, I intend to create a spiritual dwelling and residence for the Islamic calligrapher, Hassan Massoudy, in an apartment in Dilworth building. The project aims to critically analyse the ecstatic movement of traditional Islamic calligraphy through architectural design in relation to the philosophy of Sufism.