The introduction of modern film to a traditional Iran was not without its sociological problems. As mentioned earlier, cinema started as a court entertainment and remained available only to the cultural and political elite for over a decade. When the government began to encourage this industry, it still had to confront the opposition of the […]

Cinema in Iran has its origins in the foibles of court entertainment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In 1900, the Qâjâr king, Mozaffar-od-Din Shah, went to France for a state visit. While there, he became fascinated with the camera and what it could do. He ordered his photographer, Mirzâ Ebrâhim ‘Akkâsbâshi, to […]

New (or Modern) Persian is one member of a great family of Iranian languages that have been spoken across Asia in both ancient and modern times. Its linguistic ancestry is as diverse and complex as that of English, and this has made it just as richly expressive as a means of communication. The core of […]

A discussion of the role of literature in Iranian culture should begin with several caveats. First of all, the discussion in this chapter is limited to Persian literature. There are, of course, other languages in Iran that have a literary tradition, but it is not possible to try to deal with them here. This is […]

Zoroastrians make up one of the smallest religious minorities in contemporary Iran, numbering only about 32,000 (as of 1986). That is, of course, rather ironic, since Zoroastrianism can claim to be the oldest and most authentically Iranian religion of all. It is also somewhat misleading, since the cultural infl uence of Zoroastrianism in Iran has […]

Judaism and Christianity in Iran are represented by small but significant religious communities that can also be regarded, to some extent, as distinct ethnic groups. Jews have lived in Iran since ancient times, and Iran has a special place in Jewish history and the development of Judaism: Cyrus the Great, who liberated the Jews from […]

Ironically, there is no place in the system just described for what is in fact the single largest non-Muslim religion in Iran, Bahaism. Before the revolution, as many as half a million Iranians were members of this faith; today, offi – cially, the religion does not exist in Iran even though the actual membership totals […]

Although the number of non-Muslims in contemporary Iran is quite small, well under one percent of the population, the religions they represent are of considerable interest for both historical and cultural reasons. Zoroastrianism, for example, preceded Islam as the national religion of Iran and has greatly infl uenced both Iranian culture and the development of […]

Given the radically different views of Sunnism and Shi‘ism on matters of history and doctrine, it might be assumed that there would also be a vast and unbridgeable gap between them in terms of practices as well. In fact, they have a good deal in common. Shi‘ite law closely resembles some of the most conservative […]

Drama and cinema in contemporary Iran can be said to have some roots in older, more traditional forms of similar cultural activities. The first type of dramatic expression, for example, was probably connected to the veneration by ancient Iranians of the sun-god Mithra, when worshipers constructed a public stage and wore masks to perform certain […]

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