Sunday, September 15, 2019

Land of the Aryans: The Persian Culture Essay

Iran is formerly known as Persia until 1935. It is a country in Central Eurasia located in the northeastern shore of the Persian Gulf. Iran is the cognate of the name Aryan, which means â€Å"Land of the Aryans†. Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC. The Culture of Iran is a mix of ancient pre-Islamic culture and Islamic culture. Iranian culture probably originated in Central Asia and is strongly suggested as the predecessor of Iranian culture ca. 2000 BC. Iranian culture has long been a predominant culture of the Middle East and Central Asia, with Persian considered the language of intellectuals during much of the 2nd millennium, and the language of religion and the populace before that. Persian Philosophy to Major Religions The Iranian plateau has contributed ideas and techniques for sixty known centuries which have helped to continue and civilize mankind. Writing, numbers, the arts of agriculture and of working metals, the sciences of astronomy and mathematics, and the beginnings of religious and philosophical thinking — these all come from the Near East, and the fountain head of much of Near Eastern culture was on the Iranian plateau (Nasr & Razavi, 1999, p. 3). The three Wise Men from the East whom at the birth of Jesus brought gold, frankincense and myrrh were probably Zoroastrian priests from Persia. Their gifts symbolized essential beliefs which wee contributed by Zoroastrianism to Christianity, such as: the concepts of the Evil One as a positive force; the notion of the angels, of the Last judgment, or paradise, of the resurrection of the dead; and of the ultimate victory of good over evil (Pope, Ackerman & Schroeder, 1945, p. 2). There are also two other influential religions that came out of Persia. One is Mithraism, which unsuccessfully competed with Christianity for the first three centuries of our era. And the other is Manichaeism of which St. Augustine was a devotee before he converted to Christianity (Pope, Ackerman & Schroeder, 1945, p. 2). Moreover, according to Pope, Ackerman & Schroeder (1945): Buddhism was also partially influenced by Persian philosophy when Buddha passed through the Far East on its mission of enlightenment. (p. 2) No important religion would now be what it is were the Persian contributions to be taken from it (Nasr & Razavi, 1999, p. ). Persian Pottery Early ancient painted pottery, which had begun in Western Asia by 4000 B. C. , was man’s first â€Å"manuscript†; for the blueprints, useful though they be as ornament, were much more than that to those who made and used the vessels. Persian potteries were the expressions and evidences of fears and hopes, symbols for evoking supernatural forces to aid in the constantly anxious struggle of living (Pope, Ackerman & Schroeder, 1945, p. 7). All of the images in Persian pots symbolize the harmonious relationships of man to nature and the divine aid of a god watching over and guiding them. Metal Arts Western civilizations considered pottery, ceramics or paintings as major work of art. But for Persian and Middle Eastern civilizations, it is the metal works that is considered as the prime of the art works. Bronze is considered as a most important medium on metal arts, even comparable to silver and gold in terms of its value, because it is far more durable than the said metals. The artistic talents of the smiths were preserved and learned for thousand of years for the Persian, and adds to the artistic value of the metal arts (Ghirshman, 1962, p. 12). Simplicity and strength were the artistic ideals. Tradition dictated symbolic shapes like the bull’s head ewer and other animals to present the vitality of these animals such as lions and birds, believing that it will be passed on the metal arts (Ghirshman, 1962, p. 14) All sorts of handsome objects were fashioned by the Seljuq metal workers. A mirror back illustrates the famous and much loved story of Bahram Gur and his sweetheart Azada, whom in a rage he was fated to slay. Pictorially it is unimpressive; as a work of decoration and judged by the modeling of its animals it is superb (Pope, Ackerman & Schroeder, 1945, p. 64). The active figures in the center evenly and ingeniously fill the space between the cusped arches of the framing zone which, with the intervening spaces, almost forms a reciprocal. Within this are falcons, foxes, and peacocks that repay careful examination. Carpets According to Pope (1931), it is by her carpets that the art of Persia has been most widely known (p120). Their fame has been abroad in the world these many centuries. The most priced Persian carpets are those made for the kings and princes of the Persian society. They are usually made from fabrics and other raw materials especially and exclusively for the royalty’s use (Pope, 1931, p. 121). They also commission the best painters and architects in town to make a unique and personalized design. The brilliant and sophisticated Persian color sense finds its perfect embodiment in the carpets. Their size permits of a far greater variety of colors than is appropriate in the smaller, lighter textiles or than is possible in a painted page. There is practically no limit to the range of colors the Persian dyers could command, and yet with all this wealth available, the rug designers chose a relatively limited number; twelve to fourteen tones is the average for the great sixteenth century carpets (Pope, 1931, p. 23). The Death of the Persian Culture The decline of the Persian art started in the rise of Europe. Because of various social problems such as societal depression, poverty, Afghan invasion and governmental incompetence are fatal to the preservation and development of the Persian culture. Yet, even if the Persian culture is considered stagnant nowadays, but the Iranian movies and contemporary music and literature, the influence and appreciation of humankind on Persian culture can no longer be disregarded.

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