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Posts Tagged ‘Iranian Poetry’

Windows on Iran 21

A beautiful painting by Iranian-American Seroge Barseghian (see below for more).

A beautiful painting by Iranian-American artist Seroge Barseghian (see below for more of his extraordinary work).

Hi All,

I hope you got a chance to relax and enjoy the weekend. Please take a look at the number of windows that you have received. If any numbers are missing, your window may have bounced due to a full mailbox. If so, please let me know to supply the missing windows.

These are seminal moments in our history. I hope the Windows on Iran will keep you informed in ways that you would not otherwise be. In fact, in my out-of-classroom activities, I do more than preparing these windows. Recently, I was a guest of Krista Tippett on NPR’s “Speaking of Faith.” The show which is dedicated to the poetry of the medieval Persian poet and mystic Rumi (1207-1273) will be aired in the St. Louis area on Sunday, March 4, 9:00 am. Those of you who are not in St. Louis, Missouri, if interested in the show, please check NPR’s website. It is an hour of talking about Rumi and reading his poetry.

Now, let us attend to Window on Iran – 21 without further ado.

*I would like to start by introducing you to the web site of a very
informative independent campaign, CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions
and Military Intervention in Iran). This campaign is run by Nader
Sadeqi, an Iranian American Professor of Surgery at George Washington
University! Thank you Dr. Sadeqi! Do visit CASMII’s web site at
http://www.campaigniran.org/

*Sunday times has the wonderful news that American military officials
at the very top may in fact be far more cautious and unwilling to
start a new disaster in the region by attacking Iran. According to
this article as many as five top U.S. Army officials “will quit” if
the President orders an attack on Iran. To directly quote: “General
Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there
was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US
intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying
insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive. Pace’s view was
backed by the British intelligence officials who said the extent of
the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a
small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear”.   General
Peter Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims is viewed as a
sign of grave discontent at the top. For the full essay please go to
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article1434540.ece
(thank you Adam Shriver for sending this link).

*General Pace’s refusal to blame Iran for resurgency in Iraq is based
on his knowledge of facts on the ground. On February 19, an attack on
an American outpost in Northern Iraq left at least two soldiers dead
and 17 wounded. This attack, followed by gun battle, was described by
Iraqi and American officials as the work of “Sunni millitants, most
probably al-Qaeda.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/world/middleeast/20iraq.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin
What is the relevance of this to Iran? Quite a bit. Iran is one of
few places in the region where al-Qaeda members face arrest and cannot
operate. In fact, two such members were arrested trying to pass
through Iran less than two weeks ago. An America-Iran military
confrontation would be a gift to al-Qaeda.

*Another story that you don’t hear often is that although Iran refuses
unconditional halting of uranium enrichment, it calls almost on a
daily basis for direct negotiation with the U.S. and is prepared to
put enrichment suspension on the table. Here are two articles in the
Iranian papers (in Persian) quoting top Iranian officials on the
subject: http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-883808&Lang=P
and http://mizannews.com/default.asp?nid=1020

*CASMII, which I introduced to you in this Window, has reported this
morning “evidence of US coercion of Members of IAEA against Iran
revealed.” http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/1456

Social: Challenge to the Iranian President

*Papers in Iran reported a challenge by an Iranian nuclear physicist to
the Iranian president Ahmadinejad. Professor Shirazad said in an
interview that Ahmadinejad’s views on the necessity of nuclear
technology for Iran was as “uninformed” as his views about the
magnitude of the Holocaust. Shirzad’s invitation to a public debate is
unlikely to be accepted by the Iranian President but the fact that the
interview makes it to the front page in Iran is good news: (sorry,
Persian source again)
http://www.roozna.com/Negaresh_site/FullStory/?Id=31969

*Time for a nice colorful break from political matters. A friend,
Mazdak Khajehpour, recently sent me the address to the Iranian
Institute of Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences:
http://www.iasbs.ac.ir/ . I hope to be able to utilize this site for
information about science and technology in Iran. My first visit to
the site yielded visually delightful information. A collection of
slides of flowers that grow in Iran. If you are a plant biologist, I
am sure you will have your scientific curiosity. If not just enjoy.
There are about 70 slides with a 4 seconds transition time. Click here: Flowers of Iran. Enjoy!

Flowers of Iran

Flowers of Iran

*A majority world opinion shows skepticism about a “clash of
civilizations” leading to violent conflict between Islam and the West,
according to findings of a poll published Monday.   Pollsters
questioned about 28,000 people in 27 different countries, including
the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Brazil,
Mexico and Australia; as well as four predominantly Muslim countries:
Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia; and two
countries with large Muslim populations: Lebanon and Nigeria.
http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fapnews.myway.com%2Farticle%2F20070219%2FD8NCERSG0.html

*In an essay called “Iran: the Day After,” Phyllis Bennis looks at what
a horrendous situation we would be facing on the hypothetical day
after the U.S. makes such an erronous move:
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0419-23.htm

Art: Visual Delight

Seroge Barseghian Painting

Another painting by Iranian-American artist Seroge Barseghian (click on slide show below for more of his work).

Just have to stop talking politics and visit a few delighful art works
from Iran! I have prepared for you a slide show of the latest painting
exhibit of Seroge Barseghian, the contemporary Iranian Armenian
painter. His colorful celestial feasts are a good visual delight
before closing Window number 21 on Iran. Click here: Seroge Barseghian Paintings. Enjoy!

Have a great week!

Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Windows on Iran 16

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim www.iranian.com).

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Greetings! And Happy New Year!

Time to open a new window on Iran. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday so far. Thank you so much for all your kind messages concerning window number 15.  A combination of end of the semester duties and holiday activities have prevented me from writing
individual thank you notes.  I am most appreciative of all your responses. Please note that all the recent requests to be added to the listserv will be taken care of in the coming week.

I would like to indulge in a little holiday self promotion with a good
news!  My latest book –  a study of contemporary Persian poetry – was
just named “an outstanding academic title for the year 2006” by the
ALA’s review journal for academic and research libraries known as the
Choice Magazine. A wonderful Christmas present! The list is a small
percentage of approximately 7,000 titles. Here is the full
bibliographic information on the book:

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Recite in the Name of the Red Rose: Poetic Sacred
Making in 20th Century Iran (University of South Carolina Press,
2006).

Visual Delight:

Before we get into the special report that I have for you about the
very important mid-term elections in Iran, I want to give you my
Christmas gift. This is a power point slide show of a 19th century
private house, the Tabatabai House and a 17th century Safavid garden
called the Fin Garden in the city of Kashan, a central city with a
population of about 300,000. The main portion of the slides were
circulated by my friend Bahar Bastani. In case you want to use this in
class, the show has about 30 slides with a six second transition time
between slides. Just click on here: Fin Garden and the Tabatabai House in the City of Kashan.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Current Issues:

Iranian mid-term elections

Two weeks ago, the Iranian electorate made a clear statement in the
mid term elections in which reformists received 40%, the moderate
conservatives 24%, and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad about 3%
of the vote. The rest of the seats went to independent candidates. Of
the 15 seat up for grab in the Expert Assembly, only one went to his
supporters. This despite the fact that the reformists have objected to
accuracy of the counting process and want a recount of 10 ballot boxes
in each city to demonstrate that the overall pattern of the results
was more in their favor.  Since the main stream American media gave
minimal coverage to this very significant event (although it happened
in a country they are too eager to call the most dangerous country in
the world) I would like to give you some important details:

Among the features of this mid-term election was the prominence of
women in urban as well as rural settings. In my home town Shiraz the
top candidate was a 27 year old female architecture student, Fatemeh
Houshmand . In some cities like Qazvin and Hamadan, the top candidate
as well as 50% of the total elected members were women.

In an editorial for the online political newsletter CounterPunch my
friend Behrooz Ghamari wrote:  “Had this election occurred in an
allied country of the United States, it would have been celebrated as
the highest achievement of American foreign policy.”

What is most unfortunately masked from the American general public is
the maturity and thoughtfulness of the Iranian voter who did not allow
outside pressures on Iran to get translated into an exaggerated
“patriotism” in favor of the current regime. Here are examples of what
some voters said:

– “There is no room to breathe freely, Iran’s international
credibility and respect is diminishing, and we hope that we are not on
a path to war, I voted to change this direction.”
– “I voted to prove that our true desire is to transform this system,
and to show that we don’t need American democracy.”
-“I want to know, in which other country in the world do they have
carnivals on the streets and the artists and celebrities go to
neighborhoods to encourage people to participate?”
– a  young voter from Shiraz called the election a “velvet revolution”
that will strengthen “local decision making and non-governmental
organizations.”

To read Behrooz’s full editorial, click on:
http://www.counterpunch.org/ghamari12182006.html

Iranian Diplomats Arrested in Iraq:

Last week the U.S. defense officials declared the arrest of four
Iranian diplomats in Iraq. Two were released right away. The captured
Iranians – who were not named – were supposed to be carrying all kinds
of sensitive lists and documents pertaining to shipments of weapons
into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among
other sensitive intelligence information. No evidence has been
provided by American officials who are apparently unhappy at the
release of the last two diplomats. The story itself seems somewhat
shaky as the “highly sensitive” information claimed to be carried by
these officials can easily be transmitted electronically – or by two
inconspicuous Iraqi citizens – with much less risk.

According to the Iranian version of the story, the arrested people
were diplomats visiting as guests of the Iraqi President – which
explains why he was agitated at the incident. They were arrested
attending a funeral in the house of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, an Iraqi
Shiite leader. According to this version, these people were released
because none of the claimed documents were found on them.

Iranian Women conducting a 1,000,000 signature Campaign

To reform gender related legal codes in Iran, young Iranian women
activists have started a signature collection campaign. They go door
to door, speak to people about women’s rights, and collect signatures
in support of the reforms which they seek. The innovative nature of
the move and passionate persistence of these young and energetic
feminists have earned them support from the Iranian public and shocked
the opposition. Please publicize this movement to friends who can get
on line and support them. My friend, women’s studies scholar and
activist, Nayereh Tohidi has written about the 1,000,000 signature
campaign:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/dec/1174.html

On this very bright note, I wish you all a very happy 2007,
and great week.

Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Beautiful painting by contemporary Iranian artist Parvaneh Ghasemi of a young Iranian woman.

Beautiful painting by contemporary Iranian artist Parvaneh Ghasemi of a young Iranian woman.

Hi Everyone,

Late again!  Walking out of a lecture this afternoon, two wonderful friends commented casually “don’t let being late put pressure on you!” I thought that was great advice, particularly if I want to keep these windows going. So, I am not going to apologize for being late this time. And, I have exciting news: yesterday we got featured on the front page of my university’s student publication Student Life, how cool is that? The article is called “Professor’s
writing aims to reshape view of American Muslims
.” The paper found us on the web where a good friend Sheila Musaji posts these windows on her website The American Muslim. Thanks Sheila! Kind mentions of the write up in Student Life have been coming in.

Now without further ado, Window number 11 on Iran, on the eve of Halloween with trick-or-treaters in the background!

Current Issues

* The spooky subject of  “nuclear threat” suits the Halloween
atmosphere. But before I get to Iran, you must listen to an
anecdote. I was sitting in our local Border’s bookstore with a cup
of coffee and twenty-five papers to read when my eyes caught the
cover of what I think was a September issue of the Newsweek.  It
had a catchy title about the North Korean nuclear threat with a
grim picture of the country’s leader wearing a pair of dark
glasses, a mushroom cloud reflected in each. I should have known
better, but read the report which said more about the leader’s
inferiority complex and hair style than North Korea’s nuclear
technology. A few days later, a friend quoted his colleague (in
the hospital where he works) as saying he would shoot as many
North Koreans as necessary to rid the world of their threat. Only
then I realized that the North Korean leader’s menacing look —
and the official line that Koreans “pretend” to negotiate to buy
time —  had worked on me too. The bigger shock came a week later,
reading a book that actually discussed North Korea’s breaking of
its promise and developing nuclear capability. The book attributed
it to the current U.S government’s breach of its earlier promises
to N. Korea, first by including Korea in the “axis of evil,” and
then terminating its pledged shipments of fuel oil and the agreed
construction of alternate power plants in that country. The writer
of the book was not Noam Chomsky but Jimmy Carter. Since I am
always going on about American media’s shortcomings, I should tell
you that the courage and forthrightness of this American brought
tears to my eyes. He wasn’t being partisan either. Here is what he
had to say about the real nuclear threat in our current world:
o “While claiming to be protecting the world from
proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea,
American leaders have not only abandoned existing treaty
restrictions but also assert plans to test and develop new
weapons, including antiballistic missiles, the
earth-penetrating ‘bunker buster,’ and perhaps some secret
new ‘small bombs.’ They have also…reversed another long
standing policy, by threatening first use of nuclear weapons
against non nuclear states.” ( p.138 )
o And here is another quote from President Carter. If you want
to read more, I cite the reference below:
“The ABM Treaty prohibited space-based weapons, but our
government’s abandonment of the treaty in 2002 opened the
door on this extremely destabilizing project. The new
Defense Department doctrine defines our goals as “freedom to
attack as well as freedom from attack” in space. The goal is
to strike any target on earth within forty-five minutes. As
described by the U.S. Air Force, one method, named “Rods
from God,” would hurl cylinders of heavy metals to strike a
target at seventy-two hundred miles per hour, with the
destructive force of a small nuclear weapon.” (p.143)

Suggested Reading: Our Endangered Values: American’s Moral Crisis by
Jimmy Carter (New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2005)

* Now, against this background, look at the Iranian situation
about which this week you have read alarming news of further steps
toward uranium enrichment. Look past headlines, mushroom clouds
reflected in sunglasses, and it turns out that Iranian plants —
even if they become fully operational — are currently configured
to produce low enriched uranium (LEU) rather than the
weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium (HEU). Even the CIA experts
put the chances of making the first bomb — if Iran decides to
make one — at 10 to 15 years ( here is the full essay although
the less alarming part comes close to the end):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4606356.stm.  In addition,
here (courtesy of my friend Seth Graebner) is a thoughtful and
fairly detailed analysis from the Foreign Affairs magazine on the
possibilities of negotiating with Iran concerning its nuclear
technology. It is by Scott Sagan professor of political science
at Stanford. Though the essay is a far cry form the alarmist
mushroom cloud images, it does call Iran the “rogue” regime,
“hostile,” etc. I suppose, that is the standard language these
days. One thing I really respected about President Carter’s book
was his dignified manner of speaking about other countries.

*I guess it is time to wrap up politics and attend to some more
interesting matters. Before that, however, I have had a request
from a very dear friend Cynthia Richards to distribute a
nonpartisan information sheet about the voting process in the
upcoming election, please click here to open it: Voting Information Sheet.

Cultural

* A hot cultural topic this week in the news concerns two legal
cases ruling the fate of a number of very important ancient
Persian artifacts held at US research universities. These legal
disputes, being heard at the United States District Court level,
revolve around 2,000-year-old Iranian items controlled by the
University of Chicago and Harvard University. If these cases
produce conflicting judgments, they may be taken up at the Supreme
Court, meaning there won’t be swift resolutions. In the meantime,
more Iranian artifacts are likely to be targeted. To read more,
click on:  http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press476.asp.

* On October 18, The Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization declared
the house of the prominent woman poet Parvin Etesami (1906-1941)
to be named a national monument.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parvin_Etesami.  A charming house of
over 1,000 square meters, located in the neighborhood of
Sarcheshmeh on the outskirts of Tehran, Etesami’s house is nearly
a century old.  Etesami who has been somewhat overshadowed by the
powerful later female poetic voices of 20th cent. Iran, has had a
gentle, yet firm and lasting presence. Her poetic themes range
from celebration of motherhood and descriptions of nature, to
strong advocacy for social and political reform. You can find a
good deal of Etesami’s poems, in the original Persian, on the web
at: http://www.anvari.org/iran/Poetry/Parvin_Etesami/ though I
have to confess to ignorance about the quality of the edition. For
a more reliable source, see the reading below.

Suggested reading: Once a Dew drop: Essays on the Poetry of Parvin
Etesami
. Edited by Heshmant Moayyad as well as A Nightingale’s Lament:
Selections from the Poems and Fables of Parvin Etesami
also by Heshmat
Moayyad are both available from Amazon Books.

Visual Delight

* To honor the trick-or-treat tradition, I have a special treat
this week. My friend Bahar Bastani sent four paintings by a
contemporary Iranian painter Iman Maleki that were just exquisite
images of young women, oil on canvas. Not only was the quality of
Maleki’s paintings almost breathtaking, I was astounded at the
fact that I had never heard of him. And I consider myself
interested in the art of painting, not to mention annual visits to
Iran. So, I put together a small slide show for you of a handful
of contemporary Iranian painters working with human figure in
their work. I call it “portraits” but they are not all portraits.
I provide the artists’ name but don’t always have their pictures
or other details. All the painters currently live in Iran.  As
usual, click here to view the slideshow: Iranian Contemporary Painting “Portraits”. Enjoy!

Have a great week!

Fatemeh

========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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Iranian American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. She has also recently began playing the setar.

Iranian-American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. More recently, she has also began playing the Persian instrument setar (see below for more information).

Greetings everyone,

I hope you have all had a great weekend. Many thanks for all your kind notes and for joining the listserv. I received enthusiastic comments about the calligraphy exhibit that I sent in window number 9. I am glad you enjoyed them and will keep an eye open from more calligraphic works I can send.

As usual, please give me about two weeks to get back to you if you have any questions. If you send me a kind note of support or ideas for future windows, I might not be able to respond simply because of the volume of correspondence. Please forgive me. I do read all your e-mails with great interest. If you signed on during the past two days, you will get this window (and the previous windows, if you asked for them) with a day or two delay. Again, that is because it usually takes JoAnn and I a couple of days to process new requests.

Current Issues:

* I did not find Iran in the headlines (itself amazing news).
Instead, I attach an informative interview with Dr. Trita Parsi
the US-based scholar on Iran (and the current President of NIAC).
He talks about the position of Iranian politicians, the executive
powers of the Iranian President, and possibilities of diplomatic
solutions to the nuclear standoff, among other things:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1543504,00.html

Iranian Americans:

* The prominent Iranian American I would like to introduce to you
this week is again a musician. This is, in fact, one of the top
female classical guitar players in the world, Dr. Lily Afshar.
Born and raised in Iran, Lily Afshar completed her graduate work
in music at the Boston Conservatory. She has been teaching in
University of Memphis since 1989 and, at the same time, has been
performing internationally. More recently, she has started the
Persian instrument setar. To see a picture of Lily Afshar and read
about her achievements, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_Afshar
Isfahan Slide Show:

* As you can see I have not forgotten the slide show I promised last
week on the historic city of Isfahan. After I sent my slide show
on Shiraz, a friend wrote that he included the topic of Shiraz in
one of his lectures so he could share the slides with his
students. I hope you find the slides of Isfahan equally beautiful
and usable in the classroom. Just click here: Beautiful and Historic City of Isfahan, Iran.

Naqshe Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

A Major Contemporary Persian Ghazal Writer:

*Reference to Persian poetry usually evokes thought of classical figures such as Omar Khayyam, Hafez and Rumi. From time to time, the modern verse of Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlu and others of their generation becomes available in English. Twentieth century Iranian poets are known almost exclusively for their reformist tendencies that transformed classical genres into what Iranians now call ‘shi’re now,’ literally “new poetry.” In this poetry, figures such as Farrokhzad introduced wonderfully fresh ideas which were not considered fit for poetry before. In the poem “From darkness,” for example, Farrokhzad wrote:
I  called you
my whole being held in my hands
like a bowl of milk
the moon glanced blue on the panes

The fact that is almost entirely unknown outside Iran — because
very little translation has been done — is that twentieth century
Iran has great ghazal writers some comparable to Sa’di and Hafiz
only writing their ghazals in a new poetic language. Houshang
Ebtehaj with pen name Sayeh (b. 1927) is one such master poet. For
a recent photo of Ebtehaj during a poetry reading click on
http://saamhouse.co.uk/gallery/archives/000029.php#000029 . Despite
the imposing look, and his reputation as a poet with political and
social comittment, Ebtehaj has a vast quantity of gentle lyric
poetry in ghazal form (as well as many in modern poetry). To my
knowledge, there are no English translations of these ghazals. If
you read Persian click on
http://www.easypersian.com/houshang_ebtehaj/sineh_sardan.htm to
see a couple of the ghazals in Persian (and a short and basic
biography in English).

* On the topic of classical persian poetry, if you are interested in
reading stories from Firdowsi’s classical epic Shahnameh/The Book
of Kings
as comic books, click on:
http://www.hyperwerks.com/series/rostam_chara1.html (courtesy of
Ladan Foroughi).

Iranian Cinema:

* Iranian women’s most recent international achievements have
included the movie “Friday Evening,” Mona Zandi’s directional
debut, which won the special jury prize in Cologne film Festival
last week: http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1170.html.  In fact,
the festival dedicated an entire section to Iranian women film
makers. On the topic of cinema, another Iranian (this time male)
director Azizollah Hamidnejad won the Tegernsee Award for his film
“Tears of Cold” in the Mountain Film Festival held in Germany,
Oct. 18-22.

Visual Delight:

* I leave you with two oil paintings by the young painter Adel
Younesi. The theme of both is street side peddlers. I find them
both delightful: http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3474 and
another one on the same theme
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3473

Have a great week.
Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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Beautiful Qashqai women in Iran. The Qashqai are one of Irans many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information).

Beautiful Qashqa'i women of Iran in their colorful traditional dresses. The Qashqa'i are one of Iran's many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information about them and other ethnic groups).

Greetings Everyone!

I don’t know how to thank you for all your kind messages, for forwarding these windows to others, and for recommending it. Over thirty names have been added to the list in the past two days alone. All I can say is I am delighted these windows have so many onlookers. Welcome to window number eight!

Current Issues

* On the last day of House legislative business, Iran sanctions advocates pushed through legislation ( HR 6198 ) strengthening sanctions and promoting a policy of regime-change in Iran.
Managing the bill on the House floor, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen made the
case that IFSA’s policies complemented US diplomatic activity.
“Sanctions target the Iranian regime where it is most vulnerable:
its energy sector,” said Ros-Lehtinen in her opening remarks.
Leading a bipartisan corps of members who spoke in opposition to
the measure, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) characterized the latest
version of the Iran Freedom Support Act (IFSA) as a “cruise
missile” and stated that, “the timing for this legislation could
not be worse.” Right he is. The most immediate impact of this
“cruise missile” — besides hurting ordinary people not the regime
— is weakening the moderates within the Iranian political sphere.
The hard-liners will loose no time in using this legislation to
remind the country that America is indeed Iran’s enemy.

Nothing heals like a good poem! In response to this aggressive move,
let’s read together a stanza from a great classic of twentieth century
Persian poetry by Ahmad Shamlu (b.1925), Shamlu, known as the “Poet of
Liberty,” faced hostility by the Shah’s regime and remained out of favor
with the Islamic Republic. He wrote some of the most poignant
revolutionary, as well as lyrical, poems of modern Persian language.
Here is an excerpt from a poem he dedicated to his wife Aida called
“Aida in the Mirror” translated by my good friend Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
(University of Maryland):

Tempests play magnificently a tiny flute
in your grand dance
And the singing of your veins makes the sun of always rise
(Let me rise from sleep so that the lanes of the city
perceive my presence).

Your hands are reconciliation
and friends helping that hostilities may be forgotten

Suggested Reading: An Anthology of Modern Persian Poetry, selected and
translated by Ahmad Karimi Hakkak ( Westview Press, 1978 ) Still is
available through Amazon Books.

Science

* On a much happier note, Iran’s cloned sheep born yesterday is
alive and kicking, reported Iranian doctors in the Royan
research center in Isfahan. More significantly, a combination of
the cloning methods and the new progress made by Iranian
physicians in the field of spinal injuries has created
possibilities of curing those suffering from spinal damages,
Nasr-Esfahani said. Iranian specialists recently announced a
breakthrough in curing spinal injuries with the culture of Schwann
cells enabling those suffering from paralysis to move. For cute
pictures of the newly born cloned sheep click on the first link
below (here the text is Persian)
http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-799766&Lang=P

For more reading on the subject, click on this link:
http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-16/0610015225123117.htm and
http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1015.html

Social

* This is the Children’s week in Iran. Each day is devoted to a
topic such as “Children and Health”, “Children and Equal
Opportunities,” etc. The United Nations International Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) will participate in the events. Activists such as
Shirin Ebadi have been instrumental in drawing attention to
children’s rights in Iran. More needs to be done, particularly in
relation to minority children such as abandoned children of
Afghani fathers who have returned to Afghanistan after the
collapse of the Taliban regime.

* Many of you have been asking questions about ethnic minorities in
Iran. I will keep an eye open for material. Iran’s ethnic
diversity is truly amazing. Of course, like everywhere else, all
kinds of jokes and stereotypes are attached to each group. In
general, however, people are fairly used to hearing different
languages and seeing different costumes on the street. The nomadic
Qashqa’is, for example, still wear their very colorful dresses.
Click on this link to see a beautiful young Qashqai girl in
festive outfit (center of the page):
http://www.11iran.com/Z2INDEX.HTM . To get a general idea of
Iranian ethnic diversity and its geographical distribution click
on:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_minorities_in_Iran

Prominent Iranian Americans:

* This week’s personality is Google’s senior vice president for
global sales Mr. Omid Kordestani, 42. He joined  the company a
year after its establishment as its “business founder” and is
viewed as a force behind Google’s success. Here is the link if you
like to read more (courtesy of my friend Bahar Bastani):
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187475,00.html
Also, I must apologize for sending the wrong link on the Harvard
Scientist Nima Arkani in the last window. Instead of just a
picture, I meant to send this brief description of his impressive
work:
http://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/arkani-hamed.html

Art and Culture

* If you are off to France, don’t miss the exhibition of more than
200 items from the last major pre-Islamic Persian empire the
Sassanians on view at the Cernuschi Museum Paris (15th September
to 30th December 2006). By the way, art historians would tell you
that these pre-Islamic objects — and many more — survived
because Muslim conquerors of Iran did not destroy them. Click on
this link to get a brief preview:
http://www.irandokht.com/editorial/index4.php?area=pro&sectionID=9&editorialID=2143

Suggested Reading:  Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian
Painting by Oleg Grabar
. A more general art history, The Golden Age of
Persian Art 1501-1722
by Sheila Canby both available through Amazon.
And Western art is exhibited in Iran. Check this one out:

* Last summer Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art held a major
exhibit (June-October 2005) called “Modern Art Movements,”
bringing together a historic number of contemporary world
masterpieces owned by Iranian Museums.  Barbara Rose who writes
about the exhibit for “The Wall Street Journal on Line” observes:
“The unprecedented show was a huge success.”  “The first gallery”
she says ” was filled with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist
paintings. There was a Gauguin still life, a rare Léger from 1913
and Picasso’s synthetic cubist masterpiece, “Fenêtre Ouverte sur
la Rue de Penthièvre,” as well as his late cast bronze of a baboon
cradling her baby, which is also in the Picasso Museum in Paris.
There were circus performers by Georges Rouault as well as a
daring watercolor by the German Dadaist George Grosz. Other
European and American modern masters were on view with a special
section devoted to Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol,
David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.
Also in the collection are sculptures by Magritte, Henry Moore and
Giacometti; paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró and Georges
Braque; and three important Toulouse-Lautrecs.”

Now, check out Ms. Barbara Rose’s tone in her write up:

*”Most remarkably,” she observes “an entire gallery was devoted
to Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that proclaimed
America’s cultural primacy.”  She is even more shocked at the
Iranian Museum of Contemporary art’s “continuing to list the works
of modern Western art, including a number of prominent Jewish
artists, as part of its permanent collection, which is presumably
open to the public [can the museum be making this up?]. A more
recent, “ironic” exhibition, she adds :” is that of paintings by
the well-known Jewish painter Marc Chagall also opened in Tehran
this summer.” [2006].

*Here is what she concludes: “No one knows what will happen to
the masterpieces of modern Western art in Tehran. They are said to
be worth billions of dollars now and are too expensive to be
destroyed.”  And finally, concerning a painting of a female leg,
owned by the museum, which has not been on display, Ms. Rose
speculates: “Did some fanatic realize it is a woman’s and throw a
cloth over its offensive nudity? Is it being held for ransom to be
exchanged for a valuable Persian manuscript or an important weapon?”

* All right, we need more antidote. Let’s just visit a few of our
concluding Visual Delights, some recent exhibits of the works of
Iranian painters and art-lovers who — no doubt — enjoyed the
above exhibit tremendously (and luckily won’t have to read Ms.
Rose’s review). I have particularly enjoyed the portrays by Nemat
Lalehei
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=316 . Lalehei is an
artist from the northern city of Rasht. Be sure to double click on
each portraits to see the enlarged version. Another male artist,
and one very different in style and temperament is:  Masoud
Dashtban
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3416 . Finally,
please take a look at the works of the young photographer, Salomeh
Manouchehri
. Here too, you must enlarge the photographs to see the
subtleties of her work. Enjoy:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=313

Have a great week. I hope to be opening another window in about a week.
Best,

Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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