History & Culture

History

The history of Persian Empire dates back to the time of development of ancient Mesopotamia, the land demarcated by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Persia was known to be one of the world’s earliest empires and enjoyed one of the most ancient urban civilizations.

The Elamite civilization is one of those ancient civilizations which attracted many archeologists’ attention. Susa as the capital of the Elamite civilization was founded around 4000 BC alongside of Karoun River in southwestern Iran.

You can find a timeline of the Persian civilization and dynasties below.

  • 4200 B.C.E. The ancient Susa Civilization emerged in today’s Khoozestan (southwestern Iran). So far this has been reported as one of the oldest civilization recorded.
  • 2000 B.C.E. The era of mass Arian migration (Indo-Aryan) to Persia began and gave Persia its historical name: Airyana, The land of the Aryans. Name Iran comes from the same term.
  • 1737 B.C.E. Zoroaster, as the first prophet, introduced the concepts of monotheism.
  • 559 B.C.E. Cyrus the Great gathered the Medes and Persian to establish the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.
  • 515 B.C.E. Darius I moves the capital of Persia from Pasargadae to Persepolis.
  • 322 B.C.E. Alexander the Great defeated Darius III and took, looted and burned Persepolis.         
  • 312 B.C.E. - 44 B.C.E. Selucid Dynasty was founded by Alexander's generals
  • 163 B.C.E. - 224 C.E. Parthian Dynasty was established.
  • 208 C.E. - 637 C.E. Sassanid Dynasty was established.
  • 651 C.E. - 750 C.E. Persian culture and Islamic Empire conjoined to govern Iran.
  • 945 C.E. - 1055 C.E. Buyids Dynasty was established.
  • 994 C.E. - 1030 C.E. Ghaznavid Dynasty (Turkic speaking) was established.
  • 1045 C.E. - 1092 C.E. Seljuq Dynasty was established.
  • 1405 C.E. - 1517 C.E. Timurid Dynasty was established.
  • 1502 C.E. - 1737 C.E. Safavid Dynasty ruled Iran.
  • 1736 C.E. - 1795 C.E. Afsharian Dynasty established by Nader Shah.
  • 1795 C.E. - 1925 C.E. Qajar Dynasty ruled Iran.
  • 1925 C.E. 1979 C.E. Pahlavi Dynasty ruled Iran.
  • 1979 Islamic Revolution and Establishment of Islamic Republic.

Iranian Culture

Iranian culture refers to the arts and other manifestations of intellectual achievement in Iran. The Persian form and stage of civilization defines Iranian’s identity.

Language

The major language in Iran is Persian (Farsi). It is an Indo-European language which is widely spoken in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as well.

The alphabet of Persian is very similar to Arabic. But they are not the same language. It is very much like the difference of English and French. Their alphabet is almost the same, but they are two different languages

Poetry

Poetry

Persian poetry is one of the most beautiful poetry in the world. It is widely heard people of different languages appreciate the rhythm of the poetry and find it like music to their ears!

Ferdowsi, author of Shahnameh (Book of Kings), took 35 years to write his epic poem about the heroes of Ancient Persia. Shahnameh is easily compared to classic masterpieces like Dante’s Divine Comedy, the plays of Shakespeare, the epics of Homer.

In the 13th and 14th centuries Saadi, Rumi and Hafez perfected the ghazal (a lyric poem with a fixed number of verses and a repeated rhyme). Rumi's Masnavi is considered one of the most beautiful Persian literary works.

Carpet

Carpet

Persian carpets are the hand-woven rugs known for their artistic beauty and quality. Their economic and artistic influence in the Persian culture is famously known across the world. The cities of Ardabil, Tabriz, Kashan, and Isfahan are known to be the chief producers of Persian carpets.

A hand woven carpet is made of over one million knots and take over a year to make. A professional Persian carpet weaver can tie up to 12,000 knots a day. Well, you may know by now the price tag on a handwoven carpet is never overpriced.

If you visit Tehran, make sure you take a tour in Milad Tower and see “One Tourist One Knot” carpet. The carpet was woven by tourists and visitors who tied one knot each and completed the carpet with 2,233,000 knots.

Sculpture and Painting Artworks

Sculpture

Ceramics and clay figurines were the chief artworks of the prehistoric period and you can find detailed information about them in rich museums in Iran. Bronze and cast sculptures were widely found during excavations in the western Iran. The art of sculpture is still popular in Iran among contemporary artists. You might have heard about Parviz Tanavoli and his art works exhibited in British Museum, the Grey Art Gallery, and New York University.

Painting

Persian miniature is one of the main styles of painting in Iran. The fine and small paintings are mainly either book illustrations or designs to weave carpets. Miniature is mainly figurative scenes. The borders of the painting are decorated by non-figurative ornamental decoration.

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