THE RICH CULTURE OF IRAN – PART 2
We continue our epic journey to find out all about the rich culture of Persia and in particular Iran. The nation of Iran is one of the oldest civilizations in the world that has been continually living since it was formed. The first urban cultures that were the forefathers of modern Iran developed from the Tigris-Euphrates basin.
Alexander the Great
The first great conqueror of Persia was Alexander the Great who raided the area and conquered the old Achaemenid Empire in around 300BC. His legacy left the Persian Sassanid Empire which brought together all lands east of India and China and traded with the great Byzantine Empire. Persia also had two other great invading empires which were the Arab Muslims and later the Mongols who invaded in the 13th Century. These three great invasions all influenced the culture of this ancient and great region and the legacies of these invaders can be seen in a great deal of the literature and the art of Iran.
Today’s Iran has an identity that falls into the religious beliefs of Ayatollah Khomeini, but since the death of the Ayatollah things are again changing in Iran. The young population are seeking modern changes and more liberalization of the previous strict rules and regulations and want a return to a balanced culture based on old religious beliefs and secularism.
The role of the arts in Iran goes hand in hand with the culture and it is very complex. The traditions in the rich and elaborate culture of Persia sometimes conflict with the religious side and some Islamic leaders disapprove of many avenues of artistic expression. The poets of Iran have a long history of writing beautiful verse, some of the most moving in the history of poetry. Poets such as Hafez, Firdawsi and Sa’adi form an intimate part of all Iranians lives and their old prose is highly respected.
Today there are new modern poets creating fantastic verse in Iran, these modern-day poets are creating poetry that is in non-metric style and the country has now established itself as a hot-bed of up-and-coming writers and poets both male and female.
No discussion on Persian art can possibly take place with the mention of carpets. After oil, carpets are Iran’s biggest export, not to be used as a household floor covering but rather as a decorate wall hanging. Persian carpets are hand-knotted and some take years to complete and have literally hundreds of knots per square inch of carpet. The designs are mostly traditional and go back centuries although individual weavers do elaborate with their own artistic flourishes.
Persian Graphic Arts
The art of Persia is well documented as some of the greatest on earth, all manner of painting, sculptures, metal and glassware featuring Persian classic stories are among the great art treasures found in museums all over the world.
Another great tradition that forms a major part of Persian culture is calligraphy, and this highly decorative form of writing embellishes many famous and ancient books and texts. The culture of Iran is deep, crammed full of meaning and is a reflection on this most diverse country.