Here and There

September/October 2005

Palaces and Gardens of Persia

Source: The Globalist, DC

Tehran has been the capital of Iran for over two centuries. Yet, the country owes much of its much of its national legacy to Isfahan — the splendid capital of the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736), who laid the foundation for a Persian national consciousness centuries ago.

Under the Safavid's reign, Isfahan established a new precedent in culture and design that was particularly influential in the areas of language, art and architecture.

In "Palaces and Gardens of Persia," Yves Porter and Arthur Thévenart present a timeline of Persian design, dedicating much of the book to Isfahan, whose beauty was once so great that citizens coined the phrase "Isfahan is half the world."

Identity through architecture

Looking to strengthen the dynasty’s position against the Ottoman and Mongol challengers, Shah Abbas I the Great moved Iran's capital from vulnerable Tabriz to the security of Isfahan in 1590.

Seizing a prime opportunity, Abbas I transformed the sleepy town of Isfahan into his dream city — a center for international trade, diplomacy and commerce.

He created a new city center to complement its new functions — modernizing the town with broad tree-lined avenues, vast gardens, libraries, markets, schools and mosques.

Crown jewels of the capital

The central maidan, or town square, proudly named "Design of the World" (Naqsh-e Jahan), united all of those ideals in one space — and created an inviting public area with lush lawns and bubbling fountains space that is enjoyed to this day.

On the southeast corner of the maidan is 'Ali Qapu Palace. With an impressive entrance, the palace was the headquarters of the powerful Safavid monarchs.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable rooms in 'Ali Qapu is the "music room," which showcases distinctive ornamental plasterwork on the walls and ceilings. Niches in the shapes of instruments and vases create better acoustics.

Legend holds that, before women were actually allowed to listen to male musicians playing, they could hear the music after the men had left the room, as these shapes created an echo effect.

Chehel-sotoun is a charming pavilion in the middle of a park at the far end of a long pool, built by Shah Abbas II to be used for entertainment and receptions.

In this palace, the shahs would receive dignitaries and ambassadors, either on the terrace or in one of the stately chambers decorated with exquisite marble, gilding, frescoes and statues.

The name, "Forty Columns," was inspired by the 20 slender wooden columns supporting the entrance pavilion that, when reflected in the waters of the fountain, are said to appear to be 40.

Leaving a legacy

Sacked by the Afghans some hundreds of years later, Isfahan never regained its place as an important world capital.

Still, its captivating sights still beckon travelers to the heart of the ancient Persian empire. Isfahan’s heritage is 2,000 years old, but its spirit is timeless.

Iranian make up artist Hassan Lotfi underlines modern techniques in cinema

Darius Kadivar

Hassan Lotfi

The make up artist of Hollywood Oscar winning movies 'Planet of the Apes' and 'Austin Powers', Lotfi stressed gaining the knowledge of modern technology is inevitable and that marketing is regarded as a basic means to introduce the cinema productions.

He compared the style of movies produced by the Hollywood with those produced by Iran, saying the Hollywood-style cinema lacks ideology but the Iranian cinema is known as ideological cinema.

The old techniques in cinema should be replaced by modern ones, he said, adding that Iranians residing abroad should be trusted as they are willing to transfer their valuable experience to their homeland.

Lotfi, who has returned home after 15 years, has undergone some vocational courses of make up in Hollywood.

He expressed hope that the Iranian cultural officials in charge of cinema prepare appropriate grounds so that he would launch training of update make up techniques for the youth.

Good old time: Chattanooga Restaurant, Tehran

Hossein Valamanesh's Exhibition

29th June - 24th July, 2005

Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, Australia
39 Rundle Street Kent Town. SA 5067

for more information please visit:

Exhibition of Ceramic Sculptures

Source: The Iran Heritage Foundation


St. Antony's College, 62 Woodstock Road, Oxford.
6 - 13 July 2005.
Organised by:
The Iran Heritage Foundation and the Oriental Institute (University of Oxford) in association with St. Antony's College.
Curated by:
Maryam Salour.

Maryam Salour is a polyvalent artist. Simultaneously ceramist, sculptor and painter, she incarnates the three disciplines without confusing them. However, there is no disruption between the three. It was in France at the Savigny Academy that she was initiated to the art of ceramics.
In her sculptures, this tendency to abstract the quintessence flourishes in space. The predominant forms become the complementarities of opposite forces. All the statuettes have triangular faces, as though by opposing the three angles, the triangle would constitute the restless dynamism of creation itself. That is why the omnipresence of the negating principle, or Satan, who projects a halo, so to speak, around the work of art, is rather like an occult power. Because the devil is not the fallen angel, nor is he damned, but on the contrary, he is the attracting force of love. He has been degraded from his privileged position because of his excessive love; it is his immoderation, the exclusivity of his irrepressible desire, his rebellion to all unconditional commands, which have been the cause of his death and damnation. He is the force, which animates the universe, which gives warmth to the cold stars of the constellations. In Maryam Salour's opinion, Satan and Angel have interchangeable roles.
Maryam's works have been exhibited widely, recent solo exhibitions have included: Niiavaran Cultural Center, Tehran (2003), Contemporary Art Museum , Isfahan (2003), Illinois State University , Illinois (2001), Niiavaran Cultural Center, Tehran (2000), Arcade Chausse Coqe, Geneva (1997), Sad' Abad Museum, Tehran (1996).
This exhibition at St. Antony's College displays five of Maryam's ceramic sculptures. Four are from the 'Angels' series and were created in 2004. The fifth, titled 'Satan and Eve', was made in 2002.

This exhibition is being presented in conjunction with a conference entitled Private Live and Public Faces in Modern Iran at St. Antony's College.


Persepolis, Ecbatana artifacts in British Museum

Thursday, June 23, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON, June 23 (IranMania) - Several Achaemenid era artifacts from the Persepolis Museum will be put on display at the British Museum for a September exhibition entitled “Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia”.

The curator of the National Museum of Iran said that there are many Achaemenid era artifacts kept at the museum and if all the items were sent to the expo, the museum would look empty to visitors, MNA reported.

“So we have decided to send only some items from the Persepolis Museum to the exhibition,” Mohammadreza Kargar explained.

Several Achaemenid era works of art from the Hegmataneh (Ecbatana) Museum in Hamedan will also be displayed at the British Museum, he added.

The exhibition, which was previously entitled “Persian Glory”, will open at the British Museum on September 8, 2005 and will continue until January 2006.

About 400 artifacts will be put on display, of which about 80 items belong to the collection of the National Museum of Iran, and the rest are from the Louvre and the British Museum.

Once the main building of "Xerxes’ Harem", the Persepolis Museum is one of the country's oldest structures dedicated to house a museum.

It was restored to its original state in 1932 and opened as a museum in 1937. Prehistoric, Achaemenid, and Islamic artifacts are exhibited there, most of which were excavated at the site of Persepolis and the ancient city of Estakhr.



Ancient Persian treasures on show
Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent
Friday August 19, 2005 The Guardian

A golden armlet, attributed to the ancient Persians, which will be among
the treasures on view,3604,1552075,00.html

Forget the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. The greatest of all ancient civilisations was, according to a forthcoming show at the British Museum, the Persian empire.

Its achievements have been so overlooked that no exhibition devoted to it has ever been staged. But the empire, which flourished from 550BC until the sacking of Persepolis by Alexander in 330BC, was almost as big as the Roman, stretching "from the Aral Sea to the Persian Gulf, and from the River Indus to Libya", according to the exhibition's curator, John Curtis
But for the past 2,500 years, it has been the victim of Greek propaganda. Portrayed by classical Athenian writers, especially Herodotus, as despotic, luxurious, effete and cruel, the Persians have been thoroughly vilified
Some argue that the Greeks' characterisation of their near and Middle Eastern neighbours has stuck so successfully it still informs western stereotypes of the Muslim world.

According to Dr Curtis

The Greek portrayal is far from accurate. The Persians, for example showed a notable degree of religious tolerance. The Persian kings never attempted to impose their own religion on different parts of the empire in this respect they were enlightened. he said The empire bridged Europe and the great centres of Assyrian and Babylonian learning he said

The objects in the exhibition, nearly three years in the planning and many on loan from the Tehran National Museum and the Louvre, bear out his argument Splendid bronze figures of lions, finely-worked cloisonné jewellery and a lapis lazuli carving of the head of a young man are just some of the objects in the show As for the Graeco-Persian wars, Athens' proudest moment, when it defeated King Xerxes and ushered in the golden age
Dr Curtis is dismissive As far as the Persians were concerned, they were nothing more than frontier skirmishes

Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia
is at the British Museum, London WC1, from September 9 until
January 8
Useful link
The British Museum: Forgotten Empire exhibition

Models of Kaaba, Wall of China and Pyramids in Iran
Aug 23, 2005

Models of Kaaba, Great Wall of China and Egyptian Pyramids will be constructed on a one third scale in the international park of Jovaram tourist center, north of Iran.

The park which is constructed following the model of the miniature world park of China, Shenzen, is spread in a 37 hectare land and will include several cultural and historical monuments of the world.

The Chinese Shenzen Park contains examples of famous attractions from all over the world, with different sections covering Asia, the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and America, as well as three others with exhibitions of modern technology, classic sculptures, and famous avenues from all over the world.

"We have asked for [and received] the religious permit of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei" said Reza Esmailzadeh, director of Kosar Investment Company which is responsible for the project.

There will be more than 600 villas and a five star hotel in a 432 hectare field. A cable car will also be constructed to take passengers from a 350 meter high location to an 850 meter high site.

One of the most important characteristics of the region is its woodsy situation. The region is located near Firuzkuh-Qaemshahr road, between Shirgah and Zirab.

Since the entrance of motor vehicles will be forbidden and all passengers will be transported by the park vehicles, a parking lot with 3 thousand cars capacity will be constructed near the cable car.

According to Esmailzadeh, the project consultants decided to divide the region to several parts suiting families with different financial status.

Among other available facilities, a water amusement park, funfair, art house, library, anthropology museum, and a coffee net can be mentioned.

Three entrance gates are designed for the region and it will be expected to welcome more than 8000 tourists per day.



DATE: September 3-4, 2005

PLACE: Holiday Inn, Dedham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

The Ahmed Foundation for Kurdish Studies will convene a two-day conference to gauge the changing trend in Kurdish nationalism since WWI, by identifying and analyzing factors with a direct bearing on the Kurdish struggle for political recognition. Some 20 renowned scholars from Europe and the United States will present substantive papers, covering different parts of Kurdistan in the neighboring states. Although there is no registration fee, we still need to know who is attending the conference in order to determine the number of chairs and the amount of food required for the participants.

For information contact:


Tel: (781)784-6910

Fax: (781)784-6912

Good old time

Notice the late general Badre-e in the background

Fifteenth Annual Celebration of Iranian Cinema

Themes of loss, yearning, nostalgia predominate Source: UCLA International Institute, CA

The 2005 Iranian film series organized by the UCLA Film and Television Archive offered a pleasantly diverse range of narrative forms and visual styles. Although each film or video invariably borrowed its culturally specific subject matter from contemporary issues, the universal themes of loss and yearning were present in most of this year's selections.

The series began with Iranian-born Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly. Just before the US invasion of Iraq, Kurds in a village near the Turkish border are shown putting up antennas in order to get news of the impending war that will inevitably affect their lives. As the film progresses, we realize that the main players in the story are children. Kak, aka Satellite, is an astute and charming 13-year old boy in oversized glasses who leads a group of orphans to unearth landmines and turn them in for cash. One day, a soulful boy left armless by the atrocities of previous wars, yet armed with the power to predict the future and the skill to disarm mines with his teeth, arrives in the village accompanied by his sister carrying on her back a blind child who could be her younger brother or her son. Both childlike and adult, these parentless kids humanly dwell in a geopolitically ravaged environment.

Parental loss is at the center of River's End, directed by Behrooz Afkhami. Based on a best-selling contemporary novel, the film is a lyrical meditation on the arresting impact and dizzying aftermath of loss. Its pace and visuals proceed like a whirlpool as barren dreams, scattered memories and inert realities blend and sink into endless yearning.

Themes of loss and nostalgia resurface in Vahid Mousaian's Silence of the Sea. A middle-aged Iranian man who has been settled in Sweden for many years is consumed by the guilt of having left his homeland and his parents who remained there and died without ever seeing him again. He compounds his loss when he leaves his Swedish wife and children and goes to a free port near Iran in the vain hope of crossing over. Grainy video footage, cell phone signals breaking up, and the unyielding sea are recurrent motifs that symbolize his inability to bridge the gap between past and present.

In the absence of functional families and an effective judiciary system, Asghar Farhadi's Beautiful City places its young protagonist at a crossroads where she must choose between her love and her brother's life. In Abadan, Mani Haghighi takes a humorous tone and an exhilaratingly fast pace to tell the tale of an ex-wrestling champion who yearns to leave his family and go to the southern Iranian city of the film's title. The film follows the old man's daughter who enlists her ex-husband to find her father amidst the chaos of Tehran while she waits at the home of her ex, soon to meet and befriend his mistress. It is ironic that this uniquely crafted and realistic film was shunned by European film festivals for not being “Iranian” enough, while it was banned in Iran for its frank language and depiction of casual adultery.

One of the few documentary selections in this series—and by far the most provocative and sincere—was Mitra Farahani's Zohre and Manouchehr which centers on the loss of a cohesive moral and social stance toward sex. Juxtaposing visual renditions of one of the most erotic poems in classical Persian literature, the film pieces together candid interviews that collectively underscore societal suppression and the ensuing contradictions that are imploding within Iranian society. In counterpoint to the paternal figure of a mullah adamantly preaching against sexual temptation, a prostitute recalls her experience in the service of the clergy. Interestingly, the same prostitute upholds the traditional stance against premarital intercourse, claiming that she has maintained her purity for her future husband.

Ali Reza Amini's Tiny Snowflakes, which closed the series, stands as a graceful testament that, unlike the flat humanism of some exported cinema and the dialogue-ridden distraction of domestic action movies, Iranian filmmakers are fully capable of telling solid stories and conveying character arc.