Parvin E’tesami

April 4 was the Remembrance Day of Parvin E’tesami. Parvin is known as “The most famous” 20th Century Iranian female poet (1907–1941).

She grew up in an intellectual environment, under supervision of her father Yusuf Etesami who had a literary background. Women’s lives were very restricted during that time in Iran, and poetry was the only art in which a woman could express her thoughts and feelings. In such an atmosphere, Etesami and other early modern women writers in Iran provided a strong feminist claim for women’s rights.

In one of her poems, “A Twig of a Wish”, she asserts women’s importance by pointing out that women are in charge of nurturing and educating all children (both male and female), they should have greater respect and an equal chance for education as men.
She was a member of the Kanoun-e-Banovan and supported the Kashf-e hijab reform against compulsory hijab (veiling).

Her father died in 1938, and she died only three years later of Typhoid fever. She was buried near her father in Qom, near the Masumeh shrine.

Parvin Etesami’s house became an Iranian national heritage site on October 19, 2006.

Languages Are Fluid

Did you know that:

In France ‘entrée’ stands for ‘hors d’oeuvre’ or ‘appetizer’ and not the main course?

And so the ‘manicure’ comes from the French word ‘manucure’?

It is interesting how languages change over time when they travel from mouth to mouth. But if we look at the origins of words we can learn a lot!

As an example, there is neighborhood in Abadan, Iran that is called Kafisheh (کفیشه or
Kafeesheh). Abadan (Persian: آبادان Ābādān, pronounced [ʔɒːbɒːˈdɒːn]). It is a city and capital of Abadan County, Khuzestan Province, which is located in the southwest of Iran. It lies in Abadan Island and has a history intertwined with the British exploitation of the rich oil fields in the region.

It was not until the 20th century that rich oil fields were discovered in the area. On 16 July 1909, after secret negotiation with the British consul, Percy Cox, assisted by Arnold Wilson, and Sheik Khaz’al agreed to a rental agreement for the island, including Abadan. The Sheik continued to administer the island until 1924. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company built their first pipeline terminus oil refinery in Abadan, starting in 1909 and completing it in 1912, with oil flowing by August 1912 (see Abadan Refinery). Refinery throughput numbers rose from 33,000 tons in 1912–1913 to 4,338,000 tons in 1931. By 1938, it was the largest in the world.

So the British presence in Abadan brought Western language and culture into the city.
Consequently, a coffee shop opened in one of the neighborhoods. So the coffee shop became a landmark and the neighborhood became known as the “Coffee Shop”. The locals who were unfamiliar with English pronounced the word differently. And so over time, the word Kafisheh or کفیشه was born.

Mehregan (مهرگان), The Celebration of Autumn

Mehregan is a Zoroastrian and Persian festival celebrated to honor the yazata Mithra (Persian: Mehr‎). Mehr is responsible for friendship, affection and love. It is also widely referred to as the Persian Festival of Autumn. In Persian calendar, Mehr is the first month of Autumn. This month starts from September 21st through October 21st.

Some scholars believe that the month of Mehr was the beginning month of the calendar year during the Achaemenian era.  The Mehregan feast celebrated the beginning of a new year.  Later, Mehregan was especially important for the people of southern Iran who considered it still to be their Norouz.

Mehr was also considered as a symbol of the sun. There again, Mehr was considered to be a God of heroism and warfare. With expansion of Achaemenian Empire, the worship of Mehr was taken to other countries. The feast day of Mehregan has always been honored for many hundreds of years in Iran.  Mehr is also the time of harvest.

For this celebration, the participants wear new clothes and set a decorative, colorful table. The sides of the tablecloth are decorated with dry wild marjoram. The holy book Avesta, a mirror and Sormeh Dan (antimony cellar) are placed on the table together with rose water, sweets, flowers, vegetables and fruits, especially pomegranates and apples. A few silver coins and senjed seeds (fruit of the lotus tree) are placed in a dish of pleasant smelling wild marjoram water. Almonds and pistachio are also used.

A burner is also part of the table setting for kondor (frankincense) and espand (rue seeds) to be thrown on the flames.

At lunch time when the ceremony begins, everyone in the family stands in front of the mirror to pray. Sherbet is drunk and then as a good omen, antimony is rubbed around their eyes. Handfuls of wild marjoram, senjed seeds and noghl (sugar plum) are thrown over each others heads while they embrace one another.

The following is a snippet of a poem by Rudaki, the famous Persian poet of the 10th century:

ملكا جشن مهرگان آمد / جشن شاهان و خسروان آمد

Mehregan celebration is upon us, My LORD / A celebration of Emperors and Monarchs



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A Tribute To Sa’di Shirazi

Today I came across this beautiful poem from Sa’adi Shirazi.

بنی آدم اعضای یکدیگرند
که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی
banī ādam a’zā-ye yekdīgar-and
ke dar āfarīn-aš ze yek gowhar-and
čo ‘ozvī be dard āvarad rūzgār
degar ‘ozvhā-rā na-mānad qarār
to k-az mehnat-ē dīgarān bīqam-ī
na-šāyad ke nām-at nahand ādamī

As it happens, April 21, is the great poet’s birthday and is registered in the Iranian calendar as Sa’adi’s commemoration day. It is interesting to note that a Persian rug presented to the United Nations in 2005 and currently on display at the entrance of the Hall of Nations at the UN Headquarters in New York, has an inscription of this poem.

There are many translations but below are two that capture the true meaning of this poem.

This is a verse translation by Ali Salami:

Human beings are limbs of one body indeed;
For, they’re created of the same soul and seed.
When one limb is afflicted with pain,
Other limbs will feel the bane.
He who has no sympathy for human suffering,
Is not worthy of being called a human being.

And by Richard Jeffrey Newman:

All men and women are to each other
the limbs of a single body, each of us drawn
from life’s shimmering essence, God’s perfect pearl;
and when this life we share wounds one of us,
all share the hurt as if it were our own.
You, who will not feel another’s pain,
you forfeit the right to be called human.

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Sassanid Art

Ancient Persian Art (Sassanid Art) Articles The Sassanid Art was created by the ingenuity of its founder Ardashir and moved towards excellence in a specified framework. Most of the Sassanid art contents and concepts have roots in pre-Sassanid cultures such as Elamite civilization, early history cultures (such as Hasanlu, Ziviyeh, Lorestan, …), and especially Achaemenid and Parthian era. Yet in cultural transmission it was also affected by Roman and Greek art and culture and some of their concepts, designs, and contents were adapted in Sassanid national and religious culture.
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