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UNESCO 70th Anniversary: Iran in UNESCO

Thursday, November 19, 2015

 

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

UNESCO turns 70

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, formed on November 16, 1945 has turned 70. The UNESCO's purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. The organization has 195 countries as member states along with nine associate members. Iran became an UNESCO member state on Tuesday, September 6, 1948. The UNESCO headquarters is located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France. Bulgarian politician Irina Bokova is its current director general. UNESCO pursues its objectives through five major programs: Education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture, and communication/information.

 

*World Heritage Sites in Iran*

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located in 157 countries around the world. There are several Iranian historic sites registered in its list of World Heritage. Some of them belong to pre-Islam Iran and some to post-Islam Iran. UNESCO has designated 19 sites in Iran as World Heritage SitesIran has also registered 10 elements on the lists of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2009:

 

1- Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. These edifices - the oldest of which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century – are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They bear testimony to very important interchanges with the other regional cultures, in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian. Situated on the south-eastern fringe of the main zone of the Armenian cultural space, the monasteries constituted a major centre for the dissemination of that culture in the region. They are the last regional remains of this culture that are still in a satisfactory state of integrity and authenticity. Furthermore, as places of pilgrimage, the monastic ensembles are living witnesses of Armenian religious traditions through the centuries.

 

2- Bam and its Cultural Landscape

Bam is situated in a desert environment on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. The origins of Bam can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC). Its heyday was from the 7th to 11th centuries, being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments. The existence of life in the oasis was based on the underground irrigation canals, the qanāts, of which Bam has preserved some of the earliest evidence in Iran. Arg-e Bam is the most representative example of a fortified medieval town built in vernacular technique using mud layers (Chineh).

 

3- Bisotun

Bisotun is located along the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and features remains from the prehistoric times to the Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods. The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius I, The Great, when he rose to the throne of the Persian Empire, 521 BC. The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign of sovereignty, and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius’s rise to power. Below and around the bas-reliefs, there are ca. 1,200 lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the governors who attempted to take apart the Empire founded by Cyrus. The inscription is written in three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done). This is the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids to document the re-establishment of the Empire by Darius I. It also bears witness to the interchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the region of the Persian Empire. There are also remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries B.C.) as well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries B.C.) and post-Achaemenid periods.

 

4- Cultural Landscape of Maymand

Maymand is a self-contained, semi-arid area at the end of a valley at the southern extremity of Iran’s central mountains. The villagers are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists. They raise their animals on mountain pastures, living in temporary settlements in spring and autumn. During the winter months they live lower down the valley in cave dwellings carved out of the soft rock (kamar), an unusual form of housing in a dry, desert environment.  This cultural landscape is an example of a system that appears to have been more widespread in the past and involves the movement of people rather than animals.

 

5- Golestan Palace

The lavish Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences. The walled Palace, one of the oldest groups of buildings in Teheran, became the seat of government of the Qajar family, which came into power in 1779 and made Teheran the capital of the country. Built around a garden featuring pools as well as planted areas, the Palace’s most characteristic features and rich ornaments date from the 19th century. It became a centre of Qajari arts and architecture of which it is an outstanding example and has remained a source of inspiration for Iranian artists and architects to this day. It represents a new style incorporating traditional Persian arts and crafts and elements of 18th century architecture and technology.

 

6- Gonbad-e Qābus

The 53 m high tomb built in ad 1006 for Qābus Ibn Voshmgir, Ziyarid ruler and literati, near the ruins of the ancient city of Jorjan in north-east Iran, bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilization of Iran. The tower is the only remaining evidence of Jorjan, a former centre of arts and science that was destroyed during the Mongols’ invasion in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is an outstanding and technologically innovative example of Islamic architecture that influenced sacral building in Iran, Anatolia and Central Asia. Built of unglazed fired bricks, the monument’s intricate geometric forms constitute a tapering cylinder with a diameter of 17–15.5 m, topped by a conical brick roof. It illustrates the development of mathematics and science in the Muslim world at the turn of the first millennium AD.

 

7- Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan

Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e Jāmé (‘Friday mosque’) can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries, starting in ad 841. It is the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. The complex, covering more than 20,000 m2, is also the first Islamic building that adapted the four-courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. Its double-shelled ribbed domes represent an architectural innovation that inspired builders throughout the region. The site also features remarkable decorative details representative of stylistic developments over more than a thousand years of Islamic art.

 

8- Meidan Emam, Esfahan-Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storeyed arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timurid palace. They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era.

 

9- Pasargadae

Pasargadae was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus II the Great, in Pars, homeland of the Persians, in the 6th century BC. Its palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization. Particularly noteworthy vestiges in the 160-ha site include: the Mausoleum of Cyrus II; Tall-e Takht, a fortified terrace; and a royal ensemble of gatehouse, audience hall, residential palace and gardens. Pasargadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in Western Asia. Spanning the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different peoples. This was reflected in Achaemenid architecture, a synthetic representation of different cultures.

 

10- Persepolis

Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.

 

11- Shahr-i Sokhta

Shahr-i Sokhta, meaning ‘Burnt City’, is located at the junction of Bronze Age trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau. The remains of the mudbrick city represent the emergence of the first complex societies in eastern Iran. Founded around 3200 BC, it was populated during four main periods up to 1800 BC, during which time there developed several distinct areas within the city: those where monuments were built, and separate quarters for housing, burial and manufacture. Diversions in water courses and climate change led to the eventual abandonment of the city in the early second millennium. The structures, burial grounds and large number of significant artefacts unearthed there, and their well-preserved state due to the dry desert climate, make this site a rich source of information regarding the emergence of complex societies and contacts between them in the third millennium BC.

 

12- Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil

Built between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century, this place of spiritual retreat in the Sufi tradition uses Iranian traditional architectural forms to maximize use of available space to accommodate a variety of functions (including a library, a mosque, a school, mausolea, a cistern, a hospital, kitchens, a bakery, and some offices). It incorporates a route to reach the shrine of the Sheikh divided into seven segments, which mirror the seven stages of Sufi mysticism, separated by eight gates, which represent the eight attitudes of Sufism. The ensemble includes well-preserved and richly ornamented facades and interiors, with a remarkable collection of antique artefacts. It constitutes a rare ensemble of elements of medieval Islamic architecture.

 

13- Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

Shushtar, Historical Hydraulic System, inscribed as a masterpiece of creative genius, can be traced back to Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C. It involved the creation of two main diversion canals on the river Kârun one of which, Gargar canal, is still in use providing water to the city of Shushtar via a series of tunnels that supply water to mills. It forms a spectacular cliff from which water cascades into a downstream basin. It then enters the plain situated south of the city where it has enabled the planting of orchards and farming over an area of 40,000 ha. known as Mianâb (Paradise). The property has an ensemble of remarkable sites including the Salâsel Castel, the operation centre of the entire hydraulic system, the tower where the water level is measured, damns, bridges, basins and mills. It bears witness to the know-how of the Elamites and Mesopotamians as well as more recent Nabatean expertise and Roman building influence.

 

14- Soltaniyeh

The mausoleum of Oljaytu was constructed in 1302–12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty, which was founded by the Mongols. Situated in the province of Zanjan, Soltaniyeh is one of the outstanding examples of the achievements of Persian architecture and a key monument in the development of its Islamic architecture. The octagonal building is crowned with a 50 m tall dome covered in turquoise-blue faience and surrounded by eight slender minarets. It is the earliest existing example of the double-shelled dome in Iran. The mausoleum’s interior decoration is also outstanding and scholars such as A.U. Pope have described the building as ‘anticipating the Taj Mahal’.

 

15- Susa

Located in the south-west of Iran, in the lower Zagros Mountains, the property encompasses a group of archaeological mounds rising on the eastern side of the Shavur River, as well as Ardeshir’s palace, on the opposite bank of the river. The excavated architectural monuments include administrative, residential and palatial structures. Susa contains several layers of superimposed urban settlements in a continuous succession from the late 5th millennium BCE until the 13thcentury CE. The site bears exceptional testimony to the Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultural traditions, which have largely disappeared.

 

16- Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex

Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centres on the Silk Road. Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. Tabriz and its Bazaar were already prosperous and famous in the 13th century, when the town, in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan, became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, but remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran.

 

17- Takht-e Soleyman

The archaeological site of Takht-e Soleyman, in north-western Iran, is situated in a valley set in a volcanic mountain region. The site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th century) as well as a temple of the Sasanian period (6th and 7th centuries) dedicated to Anahita. The site has important symbolic significance. The designs of the fire temple, the palace and the general layout have strongly influenced the development of Islamic architecture.

 

18- Chogha Zanbil

The ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam, surrounded by three huge concentric walls, are found at Tchogha Zanbil. Founded c. 1250 B.C., the city remained unfinished after it was invaded by Ashurbanipal, as shown by the thousands of unused bricks left at the site.

 

19- The Persian Garden

The property includes nine gardens in as many provinces. They exemplify the diversity of Persian garden designs that evolved and adapted to different climate conditions while retaining principles that have their roots in the times of Cyrus the Great, 6th century BC. Always divided into four sectors, with water playing an important role for both irrigation and ornamentation, the Persian garden was conceived to symbolize Eden and the four Zoroastrian elements of sky, earth, water and plants. These gardens, dating back to different periods since the 6th century BC, also feature buildings, pavilions and walls, as well as sophisticated irrigation systems. They have influenced the art of garden design as far as India and Spain.

 

*Iran's Intangible Cultural Heritage* 

The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life. The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a State, and is as important for developing States as for developed ones. The Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage are established by UNESCO aiming to ensure the better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. Through a compendium of the different oral and intangible treasures of humankind worldwide, the program aims to draw attention to the importance of safeguarding intangible heritage, which has been identified by UNESCO as an essential component and a repository of cultural diversity and creative expression. Iran has registered 10 elements on the lists of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2009.

 

1- Qālišuyān rituals of Mašhad-e Ardehāl in Kāšān

Qālišuyān rituals are practised in Iran to honour the memory of Soltān Ali, a holy figure among the people of Kāšān and Fin. According to legend, he was martyred, and his body found and carried in a carpet to a stream, where it was washed and buried by the people of Fin and Xāve. Today, Soltān Ali mausoleum is the site of a ritual where a carpet is washed in the holy stream by a huge gathering. It takes place on the nearest Friday to the seventeenth day of the month of Mehr, according to the solar-agricultural calendar. In the morning, people of Xāve gather at the mausoleum to sprinkle rosewater on the carpet. Having completed the wrapping rituals, they deliver it to the people of Fin outside, who rinse the carpet in running water, and sprinkle rosewater drops with neatly cut and beautifully decorated wooden sticks. The carpet is then returned to the mausoleum. People of Kāšān contribute a prayer-carpet and the people of Našalg celebrate their ritual the following Friday. These communities maintain oral transmission of the procedures, but also recreate the tradition by adding new and festive elements.

 

2- Traditional skills of building and sailing Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf

Iranian Lenj vessels are traditionally hand-built and are used by inhabitants of the northern coast of the Persian Gulf for sea journeys, trading, fishing and pearl diving. The traditional knowledge surrounding Lenjes includes oral literature, performing arts and festivals, in addition to the sailing and navigation techniques and terminology and weather forecasting that are closely associated with sailing, and the skills of wooden boat-building itself. The navigational knowledge used to sail Lenjes was traditionally passed on from father to son. Iranian navigators could locate the ship according to the positions of the sun, moon and stars; they used special formulae to calculate latitudes and longitudes, as well as water depth. Each wind was given a name, which along with the colour of water or the height of waves was used to help forecast the weather. Specific music and rhythms also constituted inseparable parts of sailing in the Persian Gulf, with sailors singing particular songs while working. Nowadays, the community of practitioners is small and mainly comprises older people. Wooden Lenjes are being replaced by cheaper fibreglass substitutes, and wooden Lenj construction workshops are being transformed into repair shops for older Lenjes. The philosophy, ritualistic background, culture and traditional knowledge of sailing in the Persian Gulf are gradually fading, although some of the associated ceremonies continue to be practised in a few places.

 

3- Naqqāli, Iranian dramatic story-telling

Naqqāli is the oldest form of dramatic performance in the Islamic Republic of Iran and has long played an important role in society, from the courts to the villages. The performer – the Naqqāl – recounts stories in verse or prose accompanied by gestures and movements, and sometimes instrumental music and painted scrolls. Naqqāls function both as entertainers and as bearers of Persian literature and culture, and need to be acquainted with local cultural expressions, languages and dialects, and traditional music. Naqqāli requires considerable talent, a retentive memory and the ability to improvise with skill to captivate an audience. The Naqqāls wear simple costumes, but may also don ancient helmets or armoured jackets during performances to help recreate battle scenes. Female Naqqāls perform before mixed audiences. Until recently, Naqqāls were deemed the most important guardians of folk-tales, ethnic epics and Iranian folk music. Naqqāli was formerly performed in coffeehouses, tents of nomads, houses, and historical venues such as ancient caravanserais. However, a decline in the popularity of coffeehouses, combined with new forms of entertainment, has resulted in diminishing interest in Naqqāli performance. The aging of master performers ''(morsheds)'' and the decreasing popularity among younger generations have caused a steep drop in the number of skilled Naqqāls, threatening the survival of this dramatic art.

 

4- Ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye

Ta‘zīye (or Ta’azyeh) is a ritual dramatic art that recounts religious events, historical and mythical stories and folk tales. Each performance has four elements: poetry, music, song and motion. Some performances have up to a hundred roles, divided into historical, religious, political, social, supernatural, real, imaginary and fantasy characters. Each Ta‘zīye drama is individual, having its own subject, costumes and music. Performances are rich with symbolism, conventions, codes and signs understood by Iranian spectators, and take place on a stage without lighting or decoration. Performers are always male, with female roles being played by men, and most are amateurs who gain their living through other means but perform for spiritual rewards. While Ta‘zīye has a prominent role in Iranian culture, literature and art, everyday proverbs are also drawn from its ritual plays. Its performances help promote and reinforce religious and spiritual values, altruism and friendship while preserving old traditions, national culture and Iranian mythology. Ta‘zīye also plays a significant role in preserving associated crafts, such as costume-making, calligraphy and instrument-making. Its flexibility has led it to become a common language for different communities, promoting communication, unity and creativity. Ta‘zīye is transmitted by example and word of mouth from tutor to pupil.

 

5- Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals

Pahlevani is an Iranian martial art that combines elements of Islam, Gnosticism and ancient Persian beliefs. It describes a ritual collection of gymnastic and callisthenic movements performed by ten to twenty men, each wielding instruments symbolizing ancient weapons. The ritual takes place in a ''Zoorkhane,'' a sacred domed structure with an octagonal sunken arena and audience seats. The ''Morshed'' (master) who leads the Pahlevani ritual performs epic and Gnostic poems and beats out time on a ''zarb'' goblet drum. The poems he recites transmit ethical and social teachings and constitute part of Zoorkhanei literature. Participants in the Pahlevani ritual may be drawn from any social strata or religious background, and each group has strong ties to its local community, working to assist those in need. During training, students are instructed in ethical and chivalrous values under the supervision of a ''Pīshkesvat'' (champion). Those who master the individual skills and arts, observe religious principles and pass ethical and moral stages of Gnosticism may acquire the prominent rank of ''Pahlevanī'' (hero), denoting rank and authority within the community. At present, there are 500 Zoorkhanes across Iran, each comprising practitioners, founders and a number of ''Pīshkesvats.''

 

6- Music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan

In Khorasan Province, the Bakhshis are renowned for their musical skill with the ''dotār,'' a two-stringed, long-necked lute. They recount Islamic and Gnostic poems and epics containing mythological, historical or legendary themes. Their music, known as ''Maghami,'' consists of instrumental and/or vocal pieces, performed in Turkish, Kurdish, Turkmen and Persian. ''Navāyī'' is the most widespread magham: diverse, vocal, rhythmless, accompanied by Gnostic poems. Other examples include the Turkish maghams ''Tajnīs'' and ''Gerāyelī,'' the religious themes of ''Shākhatāyī,'' and ''Loy,'' an antique romantic magham, belonging to the Kormanj Kurds of Northern Khorasan. Bakhshis consider one string of the ''dotār'' to be male and the other female; the male string remains open, while the female is used to play the main melody. Bakhshi music is passed on through traditional master-pupil training, which is restricted to male family members or neighbours, or modern methods, in which a master trains a wide range of students of both genders from diverse backgrounds. The music transmits history, culture, ethical and religious fundamentals. Therefore, the social role of the Bakhshis exceeds that of mere narrator, and defines them as judges, mediators and healers, as well as guardians of the ethnic and regional cultural heritage of their community.

 

7- Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars

Iranians enjoy a global reputation in carpet weaving, and the carpet weavers of Fars, located in the south-west of Iran, are among the most prominent. Wool for the carpets is shorn by local men in spring or autumn. The men then construct the carpet loom – a horizontal frame placed on the ground – while the women convert the wool into yarn on spinning wheels. The colours used are mainly natural: reds, blues, browns and whites produced from dyestuffs including madder, indigo, lettuce leaf, walnut skin, cherry stem and pomegranate skin. The women are responsible for the design, colour selection and weaving, and bring scenes of their nomadic lives to the carpet. They weave without any cartoon (design) – no weaver can weave two carpets of the same design. Coloured yarn is tied to the wool web to create the carpet. To finish, the sides are sewn, extra wool is burned away to make the designs vivid, and the carpet is given a final cleaning. All these skills are transferred orally and by example. Mothers train their daughters to use the materials, tools and skills, while fathers train their sons in shearing wool and making looms.

 

8- Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan

Long a centre for fine carpets, Kashan has almost one in three residents employed in carpet-making, with more than two-thirds of the carpet-makers being women. The carpet-weaving process starts with a design, elaborated from among a series of established styles, including motifs such as flowers, leaves, branches, animals and scenes taken from history. Woven on a loom known as a ''dar,'' the warp and woof are of cotton or silk. The pile is made by knotting wool or silk yarns to the warp with the distinctive Farsi knot, then held in place by a row of the woven woof, and beaten with a comb. The Farsi weaving style (also known as asymmetrical knotting) is applied with exemplary delicacy in Kashan, so that the back side of the carpet is finely and evenly knotted. The colours of Kashan carpets come from a variety of natural dyes including madder root, walnut skin, pomegranate skin and vine leaves. The traditional skills of Kashan carpet weaving are passed down to daughters through apprenticeship under instruction from their mothers and grandmothers. Apprenticeship is also the means by which men learn their skills of designing, dyeing, shearing, loom-building and tool-making.

 

9- Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz, Nevruz

Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz or Nevruz marks the New Year and the beginning of spring across a vast geographical area covering, inter alia, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. It is celebrated on 21 March every year, a date originally determined by astronomical calculations. Novruz is associated with various local traditions, such as the evocation of Jamshid, a mythological king of Iran, and numerous tales and legends. The rites that accompany the festivity vary from place to place, ranging from leaping over fires and streams in Iran to tightrope walking, leaving lit candles at house doors, traditional games such as horse racing or the traditional wrestling practised in Kyrgyzstan. Songs and dances are common to almost all the regions, as are semi-sacred family or public meals. Children are the primary beneficiaries of the festivities and take part in a number of activities, such as decorating hard-boiled eggs. Women play a key role in organizing Novruz and passing on its traditions. Novruz promotes the values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families, as well as reconciliation and neighbourliness, thus contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and various communities.

 

10- Radif of Iranian music

The Radif of Iranian music is the traditional repertoire of the classical music of Iran that forms the essence of Persian musical culture. More than 250 melodic units, called ''gushe,'' are arranged into cycles, with an underlying modal layer providing the backdrop against which a variety of melodic motifs are set. Although the main performance practice of Iranian traditional music unfolds through improvisation according to the mood of the performer and in response to the audience, musicians spend years learning to master the radif as the set of musical tools for their performances and compositions. The radif may be vocal or instrumental, performed on a variety of instruments with different performance techniques including the long- necked lutes ''tār'' and ''setār,'' as well as the ''santur'' hammered zither, ''kamānche'' spike fiddle and ''ney'' reed pipe. Passed from master to disciple through oral instruction, the radif embodies both the aesthetic practice and the philosophy of Persian musical culture. Learning the radif stretches over at least a decade of self devotion during which the students memorize the radif’s repertoire and engage in a process of musical asceticism intended to open the gates of spirituality. This rich treasury lies at the heart of Iranian music and reflects the cultural and national identity of the Iranian people.

Photo Credit: UNESCO, Wikipedia

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