Iran


Figure 1.--.

HBC has very limited information about Iran at this time. Hopefully Iranian readers will provide some information here. Iran was formerly called Persia. We have some information on Ancient Persia and Iranian history. We have very little information on modern Iran nd do not yet have an individual country page. We do have a page on Zoriastrianism. It is one of the world's great rlgious traditions and was the religion of the Persian Empire. We have very little information about Iranian schoolwear at this time. We have on image of schoolboys in Yzed about 1908. We believe that smocks have commonly been worn, primarily by girls. We have a biography on Vartan Gregorian, an Arminian Christian.

History

What became Persia was on the perifery of Tigris-Euphrates River which was the one of the great cradles of civilization--Mesopotamia. As agricultural technology advanced, civilization arose in Persia. The Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) was one of the great empires of all time. A ci\vilization of cultural brilliance. Part of its greatestness was its tolerance of ideas and religions. It was Cyrus the Great who freed the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity. The Persian Empire was smashed by Alexander the Great ushering n the Helinisic Era. Various empires rose and fell in Persia. Persian sucessorswar with the Roman Empire. The native Zoriatrian Religion and Christisanity was overwealmed by Islam (7th century AD) ending with the Mongol Conquest (13th centtury). After the Monol Conquest susequent Persian regimes were backwaters of world history. In the modern era Persia found itself caught between Russian and British Imperialism. The Iranian toyed with the NAZIs in the lead up to Wold War II. This prompted British and Soviet intervention and Iran became the major conduit for vital American Lend Lease aid to the resurgent Red Army. The development of Iran's oil resources provided the financing needed to modernizxe the country. The United saes supported the Shah during the Cold War. A reaction to the strains of modernization was the Islamic Revolution led by the Ayatola Kommenni. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein saw the brealk with America as the opportunity to seize areas od western Iran leading to the debilitating Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). Kimmenni and his followers constructed an Islamic theocracy which use force to suppress democratic critics. The Iranian mullahs seem intent in establishing Iran as the dominant power in the Middle East often looking back to the past glories of the Persian Empire. In sharp coinrast there is no cultural brilliance and even wih enormous oil resources the country is an economic failure.

Economy


Chronology

HBC has very limited information about Iran at this time. Iran was formerly called Persia. We have some information on Ancient Persia. Persia was of course conquered by Alexander the Great. Other empires such as the Parthians controlled Persia in anvcient times. In modern times, the Iranian Islamic Revolution has had a substantial impact on clothing, especially girls and women's clothing. The new Revolutionary Government began to dictate how women dressed in punlic: head scarves, long loose-fitting robes, pants, and closed-toe shoes, a kind of Islamic uniform. Various rationale were offered, among them was that it was inconvenient for men to be sexually stimulated by women. One Iranian girl recalls that before hervfamily was forced to emmigrate she calls the clothing divisions between the fundamentalists in power and average Iranians. She writes, "They had long beards or stubby faces. We shaved. They donned collarless shirts. We put on ties. They wore their black veils as naturally as a second skin, held the two corners by their teath, leaving their hands free to frisk us. We were the ones forced under veils, mummified. They were the superfluous salt-and-peper turbans in every landsscape. We were the bitter, watching. They, poorly educated mostaz'afeen were suspicious of anyone wearing perscription glasses. We were the ones with weak eyes. They began their speeches in the name of Allah. We began ours with good old God. They called themselves 'the faithful'. We called ourselves Iranians." [Hakakian]

Religion

Persia has a long religious history. The Persian empire was noted for its religious toleration. It was Cyrus the Great who freed the Jews from their Babylonian captivity. Iran today has departed from this tradition of toleration. The country is an Islamic republic, a theorcracy dominated by the country's Shi'a clergy. Other religions are subjected to various degrees of persecution. We do have a page on Zoriastrianism. It is one of the world's great rlgious traditions and was the religion of the Persian Empire. The Arabs conquered Persia in the 7th century and from that time has been an Islamic country. The Iranian Revolution created a fundamentalist state which despite claims of democracy is a theocracy ruled by mullahs. Iran had a substantial Jewish community of ancient origins. Many young Jews supported the Iranian Revolution. Soon after taking power. the Iranian Government decalred Israel "Iran's greatest enemy." Soon Jews had to leave Iran, a country in which they had lived centuries before the advent of Islam. The most percecuted relifious community in Iran, perhps, because most Jews have been forced to flee the country, is the Baha'i Faith

Minorities

Iran is a highly diverse country. The various groups with some exceptions have coexisted fairly amnicably. The fundamentalist Iranian Revolution (1979) has been less willing to tolerate diversity. This is especially the case ethnically. The dominant Persian ethnic group constitute more than half the population and inhabit most of the Iranian Plateau of central Iran. The various ethnic minorities are related on tge perifery of the country. This has created problems with neigboring states, especially modern Iraq--a continuation of the historic conflict between Arabs and Persians. Interethnic relations have caused some problems for modern Iran because several of the other ethnic groups have demanded autonomy or independence, something the dominant Perians have effectively resisted. The principal ethno-linguistic minority groups in Iran are: Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azeris, Baluchis, Georgians, Jews, Kurds, and Turkmen, There are also tribal minority groups, including the Bakhtiaris, Khamseh, Lurs, Qashqai, and others. There are religuous minorities which tend to overlap with the ethnic minority groups. Most Iranians are Muslim, but there are different Islamic traditions. The Persians are primarily Shi'ia while Aerabs and some of the other ethnic groups are Sunni. Almost all of tge small Jewish minority has fled Iran. The Iranian fundamentalist regime has targete the ciuntry's Baha'i community.

Education

We have very little information about Iranian education at this time. Iran of course is the modern name for Persia. This is an ancient civilization dating back to Biblical times. We know little about schools or the training of children in ancient Persia (the Achaemenid period). There are only a few tantalizing clues. One source during the reign of Darius I (yhe Great) describes Persian boys copying texts. Education unlike in Greece was limited to a narrow strata of scoiety. It is believd Most of nobles and highly placed civil servants were literate. This meas there had to be schools. e know next to nothing about those schools, nut they likely would have been attached to the royal court. THe Persin Empire was, however, a large ivrse state. Thus there may have been schools in the courts od satraps and the royal courts of conquered people. The Ionian Greeks comtrolled by the Persians would have had schools. This means education in different languages. The Persians also used foreign scribes (writing chiefly in Aramaic) in the state chancery. We have been able to find very little information on education in medieval Persia. Aran armies conquered Persial ending the Sasanian Empire (651). Arab Islamization led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrianism. Court schools continued to be important for the nobility. Here there are some indications that girls might be educated. We believe, however, that the number of such schools were very limited. Other than these schools, education fell into the habds of the mullahs teaching in schools atached to mosques. Literacy rates continued at very low levels. The education ptovidd by the imans in the mosques focused largely on Kranic studies. Thus the Persians like the Arabs did not participare in the revivl od learning and the development of science that occurred in he West, especially with the Rnaisace (14th century). This basic system continud virtually unchanged for centuries. We have on image of schoolboys in Yzed about 1908. We believe that smocks have commonly been worn, primarily by girls. Under the Palavis, especially after the oil industry was developd, substantial resources were devoted to building a modern education system. For the first time modern studies in the sciences and other subjects became an important part of Persian education. It was during the Palavi period that the country's name was changed to Iran. Since the Islamic Revolution (1979), girls have been subjct to strict Islamic dress codes.

Environment

The population of Iran when the Mullahs seized power and launched the Islamic Revolution was 37 million people. The population is now approching 80 million people. This means that the oil incomee which could once bring prosperity to the nation, but as the population gros has less and less an impact without a prosperous economy, an economy that can not be created wih the isolation that the Mulhas have caused, if not sought. But this is not the only problem tht the Mulhas face. The steadily rising population has caused great stresses on Iran's fragil enviroment, especially on the Iranin plateau, the heartland of the country. A former Iranian Minister of Agriculture writes, "Our main problem that threatens us, that is more dangerous than Israel, America or political figting, is the issue of living in Iran. It is that the Iranin plateau is becoming uninhabitable. .... Ground water has decreased and a negative waterbalance i widespread, and no one is thinking aboutbthis. I am deeply worried about the future generations. If this situation is not reformed, in 30 years Iran will be a ghost town. Even if there is precipitation in the desert , there will be no yield, because the area for groundwater will be dried and water will rejain at ground water nd evaporate. .... ... the desery=ts of Iran re spreading, and I am warning you that people will have ti evaporate. But where? Easily I can say hat of the 75 million people in Iran, 45 million will have uncertain circumstances." [Kalantari] And despite this clear danger, the Mulhas pursue the quest for nuclear weapons, the destruction of Israel, and the historic struggle with the Sunnis--efforts which have no real benefit for the Iranian people.

Photographer

Armenian-Georgian photographer Antoin Sevruguin has left us images of 19th century Persia, althoigh sadly much of his body of work has best lost, both by ccident and an effort to hide the country's past.

Individual Accounts

We note a biography on Vartan Gregorian, an Arminian Christian.

Sources

Hakakian, Roya. Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran (Crown, 2004).

Kalantari, Issa. Ganoon Nespaper (July 9, 2013).






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Created: 8:45 PM 9/6/2004
Last updated: 12:19 PM 6/8/2015