Shell gold, ink and gouache on paper
50.0 x 190.0 (cm)
19.7 x 74.8 (inch)In this piece, Awartani is exploring the subject of “Palindromes” which are words, phrases, numbers or any other sequence of characters that when read backwards or forwards are the same. Palindromes in essence are a form of wordplay that has been used for many centuries dating back to at least 79 AD and the word is derived from the Greek palíndromos, meaning running back again (palín = AGAIN + drom–, drameîn = RUN).
Awartani has been researching the use of palindromes in the Arabic language, more specifically in the Holy Quran, where there only exist two known palindromes that make up one of the many linguistic miracles that can also be found. In this piece she has focused on a verse from Surah Al-Muddaththir (The Cloaked One), which reads as ‘rabbaka fakabbir’ (And Your Lord You Should Glorify, Quran 74:3). Here, reading the sentence backwards including vowels would not create a palindrome. However, taking out consonants only (which are here: r, b, k, f, k, b, r) can clearly create a palindrome.
Continuing with here research and experimentation with developing codes, Awartani has taken the practice of palindromes a step further by converting each letter of the sentence into there numerical value using the Abjadia and then into a symbol that embodies that number. In turn the viewer can decipher this code by firstly looking at how many points/angels each design has and then by looking at how many times that design is multiplied you can tell how many units are in the total sum of the individual letter. As for example the letter “Ra” is expressed by a design that has 2 angels and is painted 3 times which translates into 200, the letter “Ba” uses the same 2 pointed design and is painted once which translates into 2, and the letter “Fa” is expressed using a design that has 8 points and is painted twice, which translates into 80 and so on and so forth.