Mazdaznan Health & Breath Culture (First 6 Exercises)
By Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish
Illustrated & appended by Ian Whittlesea
Design by Joseph Pochodzaj
Published by Open Editions & Stanley Picker Gallery (Kingston University)
This book explores the intimate relationship between Mazdaznan,
Johannes Itten and the Vorkurs (Preliminary or Foundation Course)
at the Bauhaus, Weimar. It is a practical guide to performing the
exercises that Itten taught at the Bauhaus and a celebration of a
moment of mysticism at the heart of Modernism.
At the start of the morning I brought my classes to mental and physical
readiness for intensive work through relaxing, breathing, and concentrating
exercises. The training of the body as an instrument of the mind is of
the greatest importance for creative man.
–– Johannes Itten
Founded by the extraordinary Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha’nish in Chicago
at the start of the 20th century Mazdaznan was a religion and way of life.
Dr. Ha’nish is claimed to have been variously a genius, a shepherd, a
typesetter, a magician and a fraud, as well as friend and inspiration to
a bewildering variety of figures including Karl Marx, Haeckel, Schopenhauer,
Nietzsche, H.G. Wells, Annie Besant and J. H. Kellogg. It is said that Edison
named the first lightbulb Mazda in his honour and that Henry Ford attributed
the dawn of the motor-age to Ha’nish’s influence.
Mazdaznan’s vegetarian diet, magnetic and electric sexual exchanges,
breathing exercises and glandular theories were taken to Europe by its
early disciples, flourishing in Switzerland, Germany and England between
the wars. The Swiss artist and teacher Johannes Itten was a devout
Mazdaznan and its exercises were an essential part of his courses at
Health & Breath Culture has been newly illustrated by Ian Whittlesea
with drawings of current Foundation students demonstrating the exercises.
It is followed by a selection of found texts and images that go some way
to explaining the beliefs and history of Mazdaznan.