The tree-bird: An alchemy of the heart

Reihane Raei

1 December 2022

Reihane Raei, Untitled, Alchemist Collection, 2021, 4/4 x 3/7 x 1/1cm

Reihane Raei creates healing jewels inspired by the mystery of Persian poetry

Alchemy is discovering the value in apparently worthless things and transforming them into treasures. It is spending time and energy to make them flourish. These are imaginary mansions that are destroyed by passing time or unnatural factors

When I started making my latest collection, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan again. It is one of the most bitter events of recent years in the region. I made the ruined mansions impressed by my feelings about Afghanistan, the issues of my country and the consequences of Covid in the world. But in the middle of the making process, I realized that I do not like to speak disappointedly in my art. I think if artists will be in union with the soul of the universe, they can create something that is meaningful for many people. I remembered the Persian poets about finding treasures in ruins, especially Rumi, and I found this subject in Afghan proverbs, too. Therefore, I thought now is exactly the time that we need to do alchemy, and search for treasure.

Kimia, alchemists, treasures and concepts related to them are so mystical in Persian literature. It could be love, patience or friends. Transforming suffering into treasure and finding a glimmer of hope in the dark night of disappointment is alchemy. So, in the back of bronze ruined mansions, I set a tiny piece of gold or gem as a symbol of treasure. We all have treasures within ourselves. These necklaces are reminders of the worth in our lives that hides in ordinary life.

The turquoise setting in the back of some pieces comes from Persian mines in my country. I use it symbolically as a treasure. For me, turquoise is a symbol of water too. One of the environmental issues that my country is experiencing is drought. Also, due to the hot and dry region, water has always been of great worth, and considered holy in some periods.

Besides being a reminder of nature, cypress trees are also a symbol of patience and stability due to their evergreen nature. To find the real treasure, you have to be patient. In some pieces, there are one or more cedar trees that represent nature. As one said, a single tree has the soul of all the trees in a forest.

In this collection, birds are guardians of treasures. In some pieces, the cypress and the bird have become one. I was inspired by similar motifs in Iranian art. The eye of the tree-bird is a synthetic stone at the back of necklace, as it looks at treasure and protects it.

In one of necklaces, there are a pair of lover birds, who stick their beaks together in a kiss. The precious gem is set between them at the back of the necklace: they protect their treasure together. The trees and the birds have become one in this necklace. Maybe after some time, we can resemble the environment in which we live.  Or maybe the birds camouflage themselves between trees for better protection.

This collection is for when you are scared, the moment when you are desperate. The treasure is in this moment, right there and now. In your own heart, between all the darkness, in the heart of all the suffering. Don’t be afraid, polish your heart. What remains is worth it. You are your own treasure.

About Reihane Raei

I have an MA in illustration and a BA in crafts. I love aged trees, stones, books and making things(mostly jewellery and small objects). I work in my home-studio in Iran /Tehran. I think about materials and the process of making them symbolically. Visit and follow @reihaneraei.

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