Australian sculptor scraps Zarathushtra’s name


April 18, 2006

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Move comes after protests by Parsi community against a nude scultpure named after the Prophet

Mumbai Mirror Bureau

The Australian Consul General in Mumbai has informed Mumbai’s Parsi-Zoroastrians that a controversial sculpture inaugurated in Sydney will not carry any reference to Prophet Zarathushtra.

The Sculpture That “Was” called Zarathustra

The four-feet tall bronze sculpture of a nude, bearded man by Australian sculptor Peter Schipperheyn carried the name ‘Zarathustra’. Though the artist clarified that the statue was not a depiction of the Prophet, the issue caused a furore in the world-wide Zoroastrian community, especially in Australia which has a significant Zoroastrian diaspora.

The community protested by sending e-mails to the artist and to the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park where the sculpture was to be inaugurated. The artist withdrew the name after protests which were peaceful.

In Mumbai, chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the largest representative organisation of the community, met the Australian Consul General, Don Cairns, about the issue. In reply, Cairns, who left Mumbai on Monday after taking up another posting, wrote to city-based Parsi-Zoroastrians that the Australian high commission was informed about the issue.

“We have been advised that the issue should be resolved favourably as the sculptor has dropped all reference to the Prophet Zarasthustra in his naming of the statue, following protests from the Zoroastrian community,” Cairns said in his letter.

Schipperheyn has now clarified that the name of his sculpture was inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s 19th century book Thus Spake Zarathustra. Godrej Dotivala, public relations officer and president of the Indo-Australian society said, “The consul general took up the matter with the Australian government in Canberra and put pressure on the sculptor and gallery to rename the statue.”