Infrequent are the times in Washington, DC when the name ‘Iran’ is uttered outside discourses revolving around security and politics. The country has come to be defined by the ongoing circuit of think tank events and publications that grapple with Iran’s role in the world, and the piling up of congressional resolutions in response to its nuclear programme. Washington-Tehran relations are framed by some of the iconic sights of the US capital’s past and present, such as photographs of Jimmy Carter and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the White House lawn wiping their eyes (as a result of the tear gas intended to fend off nearby protesters), and the dull, turquoise dome of the deserted Iranian embassy on Massachusetts Avenue. The Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art at the Smithsonian, in focusing on Iran’s cultural heritage, have offered a refreshing, alternative perspective on Iran for US audiences, amidst geopolitical sturm und drang. The ongoing exhibition,Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran includes gilded and silver rarities from Iran’s pre-Islamic past, and serves as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the Iranian people and their engagement with elements beyond uranium. Joining the Freer and Sackler Galleries in highlighting Iran’s cultural achievements in Washington, DC is an exhibition at the Library of Congress entitled A Thousand Years of the Persian Book. Running through September 20, 2014, the exhibition has also been accompanied by a series of lectures by internationally-renowned scholars on Persian literature, culture, and heritage.
Read More: A Thousand Years of the Persian Book
See also: The World as Scripted in Persia