April 14, 2011
If you listened to lesson six, you heard our exercise of counting from one through ten set to some beautiful rhythmic background music. The background music was composed by none other than Kayhan Kalhor, a world renowned Persian classical musician, specializing in the Persian instrument, kamanche.
April 02, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor was as much an iconic figure in Iran as she was everywhere else in the world. During the Shah's time especially, she was revered as the prime example of beauty and elegance. She was also a bold figure unafraid of pushing boundaries and breaking stereotypes. To this end, she went on a spontaneous journey to Iran with a young photographer named Firooz Zahedi in 1976. Having recently graduated with a degree in art, Zahedi accompanied Taylor through several cities in Iran, including Persepolis, Shiraz, and Esfahan, photographing their adventure along the way. Over three dozen of the works are now being displayed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
March 31, 2011
One of the most important traditions in Iranian culture is the tradition of ‘Tarof.’ Tarof can be described as a specific form of Iranian etiquette or politeness, and comes with a very specific set of rules of how to interact with other people. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating and seem disingenuous, but at other times, it provides a nice framework of how to interact with other people in an extremely polite and respectful way. A good example of tarof is that when you visit someone’s house, they must offer you something to eat or drink. Even if you are extremely thirsty or hungry, you must refuse the offer. They in turn must keep reinstating the offer, and indeed bring you food and drink, even if they are not prepared to give it to you.
March 23, 2011
Najmieh Batmanglij made a guest appearance on the Martha Stewart Show to share a recipe for a homemade meal of lamb shanks made with rice and fava beans (baghali polo). Batmanglij has been the most influential voice for Persian cooking (or as the Washington Post put it “the guru of Persian Cuisine”) for the past 30 years. A copy of her book, “New Food of Life,” a comprehensive tome that not only lists recipes for most Persian dishes, but manages to also celebrate and integrate Persian art, tapestry, poetry and storytelling, can be found in the homes of many second generation Iranians living outside of Iran.
March 18, 2011
It’s almost time for Norooz, the most important holiday in the Iranian culture. This holiday marks the beginning of the Persian calendar and occurs every year at the exact moment that spring starts. This year, it will occur on March 20, 2011 at exactly 6:21 central time in the United States, and the corresponding times around the world. It occurs at the same moment everywhere on earth, at the exact moment the earth enters the vernal equinox. However, we won’t be celebrating 2011 in Iran, we will be celebrating 1390, signifying the number of years after the birth date of Mohammad.
December 26, 2010
There is an ongoing debate in the Iranian and academic communities as to whether you should use ‘Persian’ or ‘Farsi’ to refer to the language in English. It’s not a simple issue of To-may-to vs. To-mah-to: the reasons for using the term ‘Persian’ when speaking in English are based on history and precedent. Here’s an excerpt from the Persian Language wikipedia entry on the topic (emphasis ours):