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New book SOFREH: Take a journey in words and images through the culture of Persian celebration


SOFREH: The Art of Persian Celebration (published in 2017)
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2 hardbound books in slipcase, 646 pages, 9.1 x 9.7 x 2.7 inches
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SOFREH: The Art of Persian Celebration is a journey in words and images through the culture of Persian celebrations. Never before have the splendour and beauty of these ancient traditions been presented in such an intricate and novel fashion. Sofreh, Persian for spread, is the focal point of the celebrations.

These two lavishly illustrated volumes devoted to compositions created for the Persian New Year and marriage ceremonies are beautifully presented and richly documented. The history and symbolism of ancient Persian customs are discussed. References to Persian poetry, literature, art and folklore stimulate the imagination, and the text is illuminated with exquisite details of old manuscripts, antique woven textiles and embroideries.


At the heart of each volume is a diverse array of original and at times highly elaborate sofreh creations. In a contemporary interpretation of traditional practices, modern fabrics and refined antique textiles, creative floral designs, unconventional pieces of furniture, unexpected objects and containers are all brought together to make this work a feast for the eye.

The concept of the project, the design and creation of the compositions, and the relevant essays are the work of Maryam Khosrowshahi, who has devoted much time and effort to the presentation of these culturally significant Persian ceremonies. The lucid historical essays are by Dr Willem Floor, an independent scholar who has written extensively about Iran. In the preface, the acclaimed Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli comments that Maryam’s sofreh creations “...have depth and movement; they are vibrant and dynamic...”, and calls for a live exhibition of her works.

Book One is about the Persian New Year (Nowruz), which is celebrated on the first day of Spring. Book Two has to do with the elaborate settings for Persian marriage ceremonies (Aqd), often spelled ‘Aghd’. The volumes are beautifully bound with natural cloth covers within a stylish slipcase. The book is designed by Anikst Design with additional design and consultancy provided by Liz Dixon, and published by ACC Art Books.

An enduring gift, this elegantly packaged compact book will appeal to those interested in folklore, beauty, art and design. It will especially enchant Iranians, not least those in the diaspora, as well as communities in Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent where aspects of Persian culture still endure.

The book is distributed by Ingram and available at bookstores, specialty art stores, as well as high profile institutions, like The Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Freer and Sackler Library at the Smithsonian, and others. It can also be ordered from amazon.

About the authors:

Maryam Khosrowshahi

Maryam Khosrowshahi is an art enthusiast, a collector and an avid floral designer. She has lived, worked and studied in Iran, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Switzerland, where she now works on the research and design of her personal projects.

Dr Willem Floor

Dr Willem Floor is an independent scholar specialising in the social and economic history of Iran, and is the author of more than 250 books and articles on a wide range of subjects.

Parviz Tanavoli

Parviz Tanavoli is an internationally recognised contemporary Iranian sculptor, artist, collector and author with a profound knowledge of the history and material culture of Iran. His work is represented in important public and private collections around the world.


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