When asked about what Iran has given to the world, the first answer of many is of course Persian rugs or indeed plentiful oil supplies! For a nation that claims a history going further back than biblical times, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot more to Iran and ancient Persia than this.
Alongside Persian rugs, the region boasts a fantastic history of pottery creation and just like the makers of rugs, Persian potters adjusted their artform over time to fit changes in society brought about by political turmoil. Much of this is reflected in the materials used and methods of production, which is evident in the pieces that exist today.
For those interested in viewing some beautiful examples, there are extensive collections held at the British Museum in London, the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg and at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
Although silk is a material produced predominantly in south east Asia, being at the heart of the infamous Silk road which functioned as the transport and communication backbone between Europe and Asia gave Persia access to this wonderful material from which many beautiful garments could be crafted. Such garments are culturally attached to the Middle East rather than China.
Whilst Men are forbidden to wear silk garments under Islamic teaching, the material was widely used for women’s clothing and as such demand remained very high and a substantial industry existed for production.
One of the more obvious exports from Persia is the cuisine which is widely available throughout the UK especially in London where pockets of Persian restaurants exist. From unique lamb dishes through to a creative use of fruits and vegetables, Persian cuisine is in fact a fusion of Anatolian, Mesopotamian and Greek cuisine to name but a few.
Iran’s location in Asia but close proximity to both Africa and Europe gives it an advantage in terms of trade and as such influences can be seen both to the west and indeed the east.