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Ten thousand years of Iran Culture

9/27/07 By Syma Sayyah and Paul Sanford, Tehran

Gold tablet from Persepolis

Iran, because of its geographical location and strategic position has a heritage dating back many thousands of years, but you have to be one of the most intrepid tourists to go and discover some of the artefacts that are in the museums in Tehran, although there are many hidden jewels in such places.

Statue from Persepolis

One of our major summer successes was being able to find time to visit an exhibition called "A Selection of Ten Thousand Years of Art and Civilization in Iran" which was held at the National Museum of Iran.

Audience hall from Persepolis

We thought that we had missed it, and it was good to find out that the closing date had been extended. We went there on a Friday afternoon and there seemed to be only a few other visitors.

Male bust of Parthian

We were surprised by the variety of the exhibits on display. The oldest items were statuettes from about 5500 BC, and the newest were from the last century. What caught everybody's eye as they went in was a stunning gold torc from Arjan-e Behbahan, dated 750BC. Too big to go on a finger, but too small to be worn around the neck, this was of great symbolic value. The ends of the torc were beautifully engraved with a mythological scene of two flying lions.

Gold Torc

16th-century shield

There was a wonderful silver dish from the Sassanid era with an intricately carved scene of an archer, and a shield made from steel, inlaid with gold from the 16th century.

Dish from Sassanid era

More prosaically but poignantly were a pair of velvet slippers from the 19th century, and there were many drinking vessels and statuettes in the form of animals.

Velvet sandals

There was a very well produced full color catalogue for the exhibition and we bought several copies, as some of the images are good enough for framing.

Ancient pottery

Ancient pottery

Even though this exhibition has now ended, we highly recommend that visitors to Tehran find time to visit the permanent collection which is rewarding and interesting.

I hope you enjoy the photos included here.

National Museum of Iran:

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