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Isfahan


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Persepolis


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Isfahan


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Shiraz


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Isfahan


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Naqsh-e-Rustam


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Tea House, Shiraz
John Osborne
lectures: iran



Iran - Land of Great Kings, Shahs and Ayatollahs

The first part of this lecture illustrates the rich and mighty Persian Empire that was contemporary with Classical Greece and ruled by Great Kings such as Darius and Xerxes. Their royal palace at Persepolis, destroyed (allegedly deliberately) by Alexander the Great, has monumental architectural remains and a wealth of relief sculpture which reveals the ethos of the Persian empire and the symbolism of kingship.

The second part traces the development of architecture in the mosques and palaces of Iran - and also of their brilliant decorative tilework and painting - through the Islamic period. There is an emphasis, for example, on the splendid buildings of Shah Abbas' early 17th century Isfahan.

The political and religious context is explained, how the Shi'a form of Islam came to take root and flourish, and become the ruling creed in the late 20th century Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Also offered as a Study Day.


Persepolis and The Empires of Ancient Persia

The lecture illustrates and describes the rich and mighty Persian Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great and ruled by the Great Kings, Darius and Xerxes, through a detailed look at the royal palace at Persepolis. The site, though destroyed by Alexander the Great, has monumental architectural remains and a wealth of relief sculpture which reveals the ethos of the Persian Empire and the symbolism of kingship.

Architectural remains and impressive rock reliefs from the later Sassanian dynasty, whose state religion was Zoroastrianism, are also included - a little known legacy that is still with us today.


Behind The Veil - The Arts of Islamic Persia

Iran has a sophisticated cultural heritage ignored in the headlines.

The main part of this lecture illustrates the development of the spectacular architecture in the mosques and palaces of Iran, with an emphasis on their brilliant tilework and painting, through the Islamic period until the end of the 19th century.

There are mentions of some of Persia's classic gardens, and the art of book illustration is also included, with some beautiful examples from the classic period of Persian miniature painting.

The lecture mentions the geographical and political background, explains how the Shi'a form of Islam originated and became the ruling creed in the late 20th century Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini, and thus puts the contemporary situation in the context of the country's fascinating and significant cultural history.


Recommended Reading:

History

  • Michael Axworthy - Iran: Empire of the Mind (Penguin)

Ancient Persia

  • John Curtis - Ancient Persia (British Museum Press)
  • Curtis & Tallis - Forgotten Empires (BM exhibition catalogue 'Ancient Persia')
  • Josef Wiesehofer - Ancient Persia (IB Tauris)

Islamic Persia

  • Barbara Brend - Islamic Art (British Museum)
  • Robert Hillenbrand - Islamic Art & Architecture (Thames & Hudson)
  • John Bowen - Poems from the Persian (Scorpion, o/p)
  • Wilfred Blunt - Isfahan: Pearl of Persia (Pallas Athene)
  • Sheila Canby - Shah 'Abbas: the Remaking of Iran (British Museum)
  • Sheila Canby - Shah 'Abbas and the Treasures of Imperial Iran (British Museum)
  • Penelope Hobhouse & Jerry Harpur - Gardens of Persia (Cassell)
  • Yves Porter & Arthur Thevenart - Palaces and Gardens of Persia (Flammarion)

Travel and Culture

  • Robert Byron - The Road to Oxiana (Penguin and Picador)
  • Jason Elliot - Mirrors of the Unseen (Picador)
  • Terence O'Donnell - Garden of the Brave in War (Ticknor & Fields, o/p)

Modern Iran

  • Sattareh Farman Farmaian - Daughter of Persia (Anchor)
  • Azar Nafisi - Reading Lolita in Teheran (Fourth Estate)
  • Christopher de Bellaigue - In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs (Harper Perennial)
  • Shirin Ebadi - Iran Awakening (Rider)
  • Elaine Sciolino - Persian Mirrors (Simon & Schuster)
  • Kader Abdullah - The House of the Mosque (Canongate)

Cuisine

  • Sally Butcher - Persia in Peckham: Recipes from Persepolis (Prospect Books)

Guidebooks

  • Patricia Baker - Iran (Bradt)
  • Helen Loveday & others - Iran (Odyssey)


All content and photos strictly copyright ©John OsborneDesign ©Hugh de Saram