Tag Archives: History

Joint celebration of Chinese and Iranian New Year in Tehran (Photos)

The Chinese Embassy in Tehran and the Iran-China Friendship Association have held a combined celebration marking Chinese New Year as well as Nowruz, Iranian upcoming New Year at Niavaran Cultural Complex.

Chinese cooks and artists offered traditional dishes and handicrafts to the visitors and Iranian artists performed traditional Persian music to celebrate the event. Iran’s Red Dragon International Wushu Association performed lion dance, a tradition in Chinese culture in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume. Another part of the celebration was bian lian (literally: face changing), an ancient Chinese dramatic art where performers wear colored masks which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.

Chinese Lunar New Year is also known as Spring Festival, as the season signifies a new start from the depths of winter, and the corresponding holiday carries the same meaning in Iranian culture. Nowruz, as the Iranian New Year is called in Persian, means “new day” and falls on the first day of the spring equinox every year. It is an ancient ritual dating back 2500 years and is rooted in Zoroastrianism.

There are remarkable similarities in the ways Chinese and Iranians celebrate their spring festivals, according to Alireza Salarian, consul general for Iran in Guangzhou: It is a time for family reunions, people who live away from their hometowns return for a family dinner. Fish is a common holiday dish, as is a version of the saying, “May you get more than you wish for every year.” Like the Chinese, Iranians enjoy a week long holiday, and children wear new clothes as they accompany their parents on visits to relatives.

While Chinese attach scrolls of blessing couplets on gateposts and offer guests nuts and candy in exquisite boxes, Iranians traditionally present an elaborate table setting with seven items starting with the letter “s” in the Persian alphabet.

Sources: China Daily, Mehr News Agency, Tehran Times, Wikipedia | Bian lian

Advertisements

Iran’s Hamedan Province: ‘Ganjnameh’ – an ancient cuneiform inscription of the Achaemenid Empire (Photos)

Ganj Nameh, literally translated as “treasure epistle”, is an ancient inscription, 5 kilometers southwest of Hamedan, near a natural waterfall, into a rockface on the side of Alvand Mountain, in Hamedan Province, Iran

The inscriptions were carved in granite in two sections. The one on the left was ordered by Darius the Great (521-485 BC) and the one on the right by Xerxes the Great (485-65 BC). Both sections were carved in three ancient languages: Old Persian, Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Elamite. The incscriptions start with praise of the Zoroastrian God (Ahura Mazda) and describe the lineage and deeds of the mentioned kings.

Ganjnameh sits along the ancient Imperial Road, that connected the Achaemenid capital Ecbatana to Babylonia. It was a safe and frequently traveled road and had much visibility during the Achaemeniad period. The inscriptions were studied in detail by the French painter and archaeologist Eugene Flandin during the 19th century. Subsequently Sir Henry Rawlinson, a British explorer, used the inscriptions to decipher the cuneiform characters of the era.

The translation of the text on the right plate, attributed to Xerxes, is: “The Great God Ahuramazda, greatest of all the gods, who created the earth and the sky and the people; who made Xerxes king, and outstanding king as outstanding ruler among innumerable rulers; I the great king Xerxes, king of kings, king of lands with numerous inhabitants, king of this vast kingdom with far-away territories, son of the Achaemenid monarch Darius.”

Later generations who could not read the Cuneiform alphabets of the ancient Persian assumed that they contained the guide to an uncovered treasure; hence they called it Ganjnameh which literally means “treasure book”, but it has also been called Jangnameh, literally “war book”, possibly due to the wrong assumption that the inscriptions described ancient wars of the Achaemenid era.

Two modern contemporary carved tablets have been placed in the site’s parking lot with Persian explanation and its English translation.

Unfortunately, this archeological site is in danger due to the construction of restaurants and entertainment centers in the vicinity of Ganjnameh that have changed the historic atmosphere and endangered the cultural and natural landscape of the area. Adding to these existing problems is the construction of a cable car nearby.

Sources: Historical Iran | Ganjnameh, Wikicommons | Ganj Nameh inscriptions, Mehr News Agency | Photostishineh.com | Ganjnameh, Panoramio | M. Eskandari, Panoramio | Alexandru Velcea, Panoramio | Mauro – Iran 2013, Panoramio | Ehsan Khanjani, Cultural Heritage News Agency (in Persian)

Chinese New Year Festival in Tehran, Iran

More than 1,000 people took part in “Happy Chinese New Year in Iran” celebration in Tehran ahead of the date by enjoying Chinese food and martial arts performance.

The event, organized by the Chinese Embassy, was a chance for the participants to learn about Chinese traditions, such as Chinese medicine with a doctor from the University of Tehran showing the practice of acupuncture. The doctor said the Chinese medical clinic set up by the university receives dozens of patients every day as Chinese medicine has been gaining popularity in Iran in recent years.

Red Dragon, directed by Ahmad Rastgou, and co-produced by Iran and China was displayed at the event and a children’s workshop brought together Iranian and Chinese children through Chinese national games and entertainments. A charity shop presented Chinese traditional handicrafts including calligraphy and Chinese miniature along with fireworks entertained the guests.

Performers from a local martial arts club wowed the crowd with their stunning acts and lion dances. A treat to traditional Chinese snacks such as dumplings and noodles also attracted a long queue.

“This is my first time to join Chinese Spring Festival celebration. I think it’s very interesting. Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. I saw lion dances just now. It’s fantastic,” said a student studying Chinese language at university.

The Chinese ambassador, Mr. Pang Sen and the chairman of the Iran-China Friendship Society officially opened the New Year by painting the eyes of the dragon as a symbol of resurrection of the dragon. Mr. Sen accompanied guests in visiting pavilions designed to introduce Chinese culture and traditions.

China’s Ambassador to Tehran expressed gratitude for the guests and dignitaries in the ceremony and congratulated them on Chinese New Year; “Chinese New Year, like that of Iranians, is the spring and renewal of the life on earth, and is one of the greatest traditional festivities, which is widely celebrated across China with magnificent events,” he told the participants.

Wikipedia on the origins of Sino-Iranian relations:
The Parthians were apparently very intent on maintaining good relations with China and also sent their own embassies, starting around 110 BC: “When the Han envoy first visited the kingdom of Anxi (Parthia), the king of Anxi dispatched a party of 20,000 horsemen to meet them on the eastern border of the kingdom… When the Han envoys set out again to return to China, the king of Anxi dispatched envoys of his own to accompany them… The emperor was delighted at this.” (Shiji, 123, trans. Burton Watson).

In this link you can find a video of this year’s Chinese New Year Festival (with Chinese speaking Iranians): CCTV News Content

Here is a video report of last year’s Chinese New Year celebrations in Tehran (in English):

Sources: IRNA | Photos, wikipedia, Mehr News Agency, CCTV News Content

 

Photo gallery: Bisutun Inscription – Iranian Rosetta Stone from 522BC in a 116 hectar UNESCO World Heritage Site

Bisutun Inscription (Behistun Inscription) is a multi-lingual inscription located on Mount Bisutun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran.

Authored by Darius the Great sometime between his coronation as king of the Persian Empire in the summer of 522 BC and his death in autumn of 486 BC, the inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a later form of Akkadian). In effect, then, the inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

The inscription is approximately 15 metres high by 25 metres wide and 100 metres up a limestone cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana, respectively). The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns, and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines.

The monument suffered some damage from Allied soldiers using it for target practice in World War II, during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.


In 1999, Iranian archeologists began the documentation and assessment of damages to the site incurred during the 20th century. Malieh Mehdiabadi, who was project manager for the effort, described a photogrammetric process by which two-dimensional photos were taken of the inscriptions using two cameras and later transmuted into 3-D images.

In recent years, Iranian archaeologists have been undertaking conservation works. The site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. In 2012, the Bisotun Cultural Heritage Center organized an international effort to re-examine the inscription.

The site covers an area of 116 hectares. Archeological evidence indicates that this region became a human shelter 40,000 years ago. There are 18 historical monuments other than the inscription of Darius the Great in the Behistun complex that have been registered in the Iranian national list of historical sites.

Sources: Tasnim News | PhotosWikipedia | Behistun Inscription

Iran’s Ancient City Nishapur in Razavi Khorasan Province

Nishapur or Nishabur from Middle Persian “New-Shabuhr” (meaning New City of Shapur, Fair Shapur, or Perfect built of Shapur) is a city in the Razavi Khorasan Province, in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Mount Binalud. It has an estimated population of 239.000 (as of 2011). Nearby are the turquoise mines that have supplied the world with turquoise for at least two millennia.

The city was founded in the 3rd century by Shapur I. Nishapur later became the capital of Tahirid dynasty and was reformed by Abdullah Tahir in 830. In 1037 it was selected as the capital of Seljuq dynasty by Tughril.

It reached the height of its prosperity under the Samanids in the 10th century, but was destroyed by Mongols in 1221, and further ruined by other invasions and earthquakes in the 13th century.

After that time, a much smaller settlement was established just north of the ancient town, and the once bustling metropolis lay underground—until a team of excavators from the Metropolitan Museum arrived in the mid-twentieth century. They worked at Nishapur between 1935 and 1940, returning for a final season in the winter of 1947–48.

The excavators had been drawn to the city because of its fame in the medieval period, when it flourished as a regional capital and was home to many religious scholars. It was also known as an economic center—Nishapur was located on the Silk Road.

The city was an important center for the manufacture of glass, metal, and stone vessels. The distinctive ceramics produced in Nishapur were traded around the region, and have been found at Herat, Merv, and Samarqand.

In addition, Nishapur was a source of turquoise and a center for growing cotton, producing cotton textiles as well as several types of fabric incorporating silk. One of the most unusual products of Nishapur, however, was its edible earth, which was believed to have curative properties.

Images of some artefacts found in Nishapur during the Metropolitan Museum’s excavations there

Sources: Wikipedia | Nishapur, Mehr News Agency, The Metropolitan Museum of Art