Berlin show features 5,000 years of Iranian arts and culture

March 4, 2022 - 17:48

TEHRAN - For the first time in a Berlin institution the cultural history of Iran – from the early civilizations through to the modern era – is the focus of a major art-historical survey exhibition.

The exhibition shows around 320 objects from the Sarikhani Collection as well as numerous collections of the National Museums in Berlin, highlighting Iran's outstanding importance as a source of inspiration and center of intercultural exchange between the Mediterranean, China, and India from the first advanced civilizations of the 3rd millennium BC to the end of the Safavid Empire in the early 18th century.

The tightly-selected works on exhibit bear witness to the central role that Iran played as a site of innovation, as a melting pot and cultural powerhouse connecting Africa, Asia, and Europe, according to organizers.

Berlin show features 5,000 years of Iranian arts and culture

The objects, many of which have never been shown before, illustrate the outstanding importance of Iran as a driving force for intercultural exchange and provide insights into the art of the courts and urban elites.

In a chronologically structured course with seven stations, they illustrate incisions, adaptations, and transformations.

Highlights are the pre-Islamic empires of the Achaemenids and Sassanids, the formation of a Persian-Islamic culture, and the artistic masterpieces of the 9th to 13th centuries as well as the heyday of the Safavids.

It takes visitors on a journey through time and the country’s rich cultural heritage. Some of the highlights along the way include the empires of the Achaemenids and Sassanids, the formation of a Persian Islamic culture, the extraordinary artistic achievements of the 9th to 13th centuries, and the Golden Age of the Safavids.

Berlin show features 5,000 years of Iranian arts and culture

Furthermore, the exhibition will explore the central role that Iran has played in the context of cross-regional political, economic, and cultural relations. As a “cultural highway” connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe, Persia is a place of extraordinary ethnic and linguistic diversity.

Situated between deserts, mountain ranges, and bodies of water, Iran is home to great historical civilizations, yet its artistic achievements are unknown to many outside of scholarly circles.

Not only situated in one of the oldest and most important cultural regions in the world but Iran has also been home to key cultural, artistic, and scientific trends and discoveries that have had wide-ranging impacts, reaching all the way to Europe.

Berlin show features 5,000 years of Iranian arts and culture

As mentioned by organizers, the exhibition – a must-see for lovers of painting and ceramics in particular – shows how, over the course of several thousand years, a specifically Iranian cultural identity emerged from Persian as a language of instruction and cultural production, an identity that was continuously transforming, particularly among the cross-regional networks of traders and scholars and at moments of radical change, such as war or forced migration. Time and again, invaders and invaded alike adopted the language and culture, renewing and reforming it as they went.

Time and again, migration and the exchange of cultural knowledge and technologies along the Silk Road(s) have formed the foundations for innovation and creativity.

Berlin show features 5,000 years of Iranian arts and culture

From the early civilizations, Elam and the ancient Kings of Persis with their seat in Persepolis to the incursions of Genghis Khan and the important imperial city of Isfahan right through to the beginning of the modern era, the evolution of Iran is arranged into a chronological tour, illustrated with traditions, transformations, and complex relationships.

Additionally, the event which will be running through March 20, 2022, presents a rich kaleidoscope of the cultural creativity of urban societies. It seeks to independently showcase – though without losing sight of the present – a long-standing national culture that is of the utmost importance for us too. Indeed, it might be one of the most important cultures anywhere in the world.


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