Iran: Ancient Middle Eastern Civilisation
Iran is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a country with thousands of years of history that is rich in natural geography and ancient cultural heritage. Iran is located in the Middle East and comprises a land area of 1,648,195 sq.km, making it the 18th largest country in the world. With 10 percent of the world's oil resources, it is the world's fourth largest oil producer and OPEC'S second largest oil exporter. Oil is Iran's economic lifeline, with revenues accounting for over half of the country's total foreign-exchange income.
Iran is a shining pearl in terms of history and culture. Formerly known as Persia, Iran was once an important country on the Silk Road. Tehran, its capital, became a stopping point along the ancient route as early as the ninth century. The industrious and courageous Persians made great achievements in the fields of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, agriculture, architecture, music, philosophy, history, literature and art, which led to Persian civilisation spreading across the globe and even changing the course of world history.
Persia featured a multicultural mixture of different arts and crafts. In modern times, there is a representative handicraft of each Iranian city. The Iranian booth at the third “Colourful World—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road” showcased traditional handicrafts from the country that are filled with rich Iranian wisdom and culture.
“This is a marquetry jewellery box from Iran. The metal parts are brass, the black parts are wood and the white parts are camel bone,” explained exhibitor Majid Shamaeizadeh. Iranian marquetry has been around for thousands of years. Materials such as those used on the box Shamaeizadeh mentioned are cut into thin strips and combined to create triangular patterns, with more pieces added to create a highly decorative effect. This art is widely used for decorating jewellery boxes, ornamental cases, chessboards, picture frames, musical instruments and lamps.
Shamaeizadeh explained some information about another box: “This is a painted, Persian enamel incense box decorated with a scene of our country's traditional sport—polo.” Painted Persian enamelwork has been around for over 2,500 years. It is one of the most important Iranian handicrafts. All of the images on a box are painted by hand. Everything is then fired at a temperature of over 700 degrees Celsius. The stylish and unique enamelware is mostly used for items such as dinner sets, vases and frames.
“Take a look at this beautiful engraved sugar jar.” Shamaeizadeh then explained that engraving is the art of carefully carving patterns or reliefs onto various metals such as gold, silver and copper. Iranian engraving has also had a profound influence on the formation and development of Chinese engravings.
Iran also boasts other metalcrafts such as silverwork and filigree. Even in today's age of large-scale industrial production, Iran's crafts still retain their original charm and production process. This is their most important feature. Iranians are still able to meticulously carve tin plates and make images from copper. This kind of craftsmanship is rare in today's fast-paced world.
Exquisite turquoise jewellery was also on display at Iran's booth at the exhibition. Ancient people regarded turquoise stones as sacred treasures, and they are still the most popular blue gemstone today. Iran is famous around the world for producing high-quality blue turquoise. Exquisite turquoise jewellery is highly sought after in Iran.
Shamaeizadeh was extremely pleased with the exhibits on display in the Iranian booth. He explained: “The Cultural and Creative Expo is one of the best places to exhibit Iranian culture and its long history. Lots of people who understand culture gather here.”