The area of Iran’s oldest documented civilizations stretch back to the Lower Paleolithic period.
Iran’s dominating geopolitical location and culture have directly impacted civilizations as far afield as Greece, Macedonia, and Italy to the west, Russia to the north, the Arabian Peninsula to the south, and South and East Asia to the east.
Iranian art exhibits a wide range of styles from many locations and eras. Architecture, painting, weaving, ceramics, calligraphy, metallurgy, and stonemasonry are all forms of Iranian art. The Median and Achaemenid empires left a major classical art scene that served as a foundation for subsequent periods’ art. The Parthians’ art was a hybrid of Iranian and Hellenistic elements, with depictions of royal hunting excursions and investitures serving as the primary themes. Sassanid art was influential in the development of both European and Asian medieval art, which carried over to the Islamic world, and much of what later became known as Islamic learning, such as philology, literature, jurisprudence, philosophy, medicine, architecture, and science, had a Sassanid foundation.
There is also a thriving Iranian modern and contemporary art culture, which dates back to the late 1940s. The 1949 Apadana Gallery in Tehran, run by Mahmoud Javadi Pour and other associates, and the rise of artists such as Marcos Grigorian in the 1950s signified a dedication to the development of an Iranian-rooted style of contemporary art.
Iranian carpet weaving goes back to the Bronze Age and is one of the most notable expressions of Iranian art. Iran is the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter of handmade carpets, accounting for three-quarters of global production and accounting for 30% of global export markets.
Iran also has one of the world’s biggest gem collections.
Iranian architecture dates back to the 7th millennium BC. Iranians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry, and astronomy in their architectural designs.
Iranian architecture has a considerable deal of diversity, both structurally and aesthetically, emerging gradually and logically from previous traditions and experiences. Iranian architecture is guided by the themes of unity, continuity, and cosmic symbolism.
According to UNESCO, Iran ranks seventh among nations with the greatest ancient architectural ruins and antiquity attractions.
Iranian philosophy has Indo-Iranian origins, with Zarathustra’s teachings having a significant impact.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, the topic and discipline of philosophy began with the Indo-Iranians, about 1500 BC. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Zarathushtra’s thought came to impact Western tradition via Judaism, and hence on Middle Platonism.”
While there are ancient connections between the Indian Vedas and the Iranian Avesta, the two main families of the Indo-Iranian philosophical traditions have fundamental differences, particularly in their implications for the human being’s position in society and their view of man’s role in the universe.
The Cyrus cylinder, regarded as “the earliest charter of human rights,” is generally viewed as a reflection of the concerns and ideas articulated by Zarathustra and evolved in Achaemenid Era Zoroastrian schools.
The oldest tenets of Zoroastrian schools are included in the Zoroastrian religion’s surviving texts in the Avestan language. Treatises such as the Shikand-gumanic Vichar, Denkard, and Ztspram, as well as earlier sections of Avesta and the Gathas, are among them.
Iranian mythology is made up of ancient Iranian folklore and tales about remarkable creatures. They represent views about the clash of good and evil, godly acts, and the exploits of heroes and fantastic animals.
Myths are important in Iranian culture, and comprehension of them is enhanced when they are examined in the context of real events in Iranian history. Much of Iranian mythology is based on the topography of Greater Iran, a large region that includes modern-day Iran, the Caucasus, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Central Asia, with its towering mountain ranges.
The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi is the primary compilation of Iranian mythology, drawing largely on Zoroastrian tales and characters from the books of Avesta, Denkard, and Bundahishn.
Iran seems to be the origin of the first sophisticated instruments, as indicated by archaeological documents discovered in Western Iran going back to the third millennium BC. The usage of vertical and horizontal angular harps in Iran has been recorded at the sites Madaktu and Kul-e Farah, with Kul-e Farah housing the greatest collection of Elamite instruments. There are many representations of horizontal harps in Assyrian palaces spanning from 865 to 650 BC.
Xenophon’s Cyropaedia mentions a large number of singing ladies in Achaemenid Iran’s court. According to Athenaeus of Naucratis, by the reign of the last Achaemenid monarch, Artashata (336–330 BC), the Macedonian commander Parmenion had kidnapped Achaemenid singing ladies. Under the Parthian Empire, youngsters were taught a kind of epic music that depicted national epics and tales that were subsequently portrayed in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh.
The history of Sassanid music is more recorded than that of previous eras, and is especially visible in Zoroastrian settings. By the reign of Khosrow II, the Sassanid royal court had attracted a number of notable musicians, including Ramtin, Bamshad, Nakisa, Azad, Sarkash, and Barbad.
Saz, Persian tar, Azerbaijani tar, dotar, setar, kamanche, harp, barbat, santur, tanbur, qanun, dap, tompak, and ney are some classic Iranian musical instruments.
Rouhollah Khaleghi created the first national music organization in modern-day Iran in the 1940s, and the School of National Music was established in 1949. Iran’s major orchestras now are the National Orchestra, the Nations Orchestra, and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.
By the Qajar era, Iranian pop music had developed. It was propelled to new heights in the 1950s by the rise of artists such as Viguen, dubbed the “King of Persian Pop and Jazz.” The 1970s are regarded as the “Golden Age” of Iranian pop music, when a revolution occurred in the Iranian music business, using indigenous instruments and genres as well as the electric guitar. Among the prominent artists of this era are Hayedeh, Faramarz Aslani, Farhad Mehrad, Googoosh, and Ebi.
Following significant movements and influences in Iranian music, the development of genres such as modern rock in the 1970s and hip hop in the 1980s, which replaced outmoded musical forms among the young, was accompanied by the creation of genres such as modern rock and hip hop.
Iran’s theater history goes back to antiquity. Prehistoric monuments in Iran, such as Tepe Sialk and Tepe Msn, include the oldest documented depictions of dancing figures.
The epic ceremonial theaters, such as Soug e Sivash and Mogh Koshi (Megakhouni), as well as dances and theatrical narrations of Iranian mythical stories recorded by Herodotos and Xenophon, may be traced back to the earliest beginnings of theater and phenomena of performing among the people of Iran.
Before the introduction of film in Iran, many theatrical styles developed, including Xeyme Shab Bazi (Puppetry), Saye Bazi (Shadow play), Ru-howzi (Comical plays), and Tazieh (Sorrow plays).
Prior to the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian national stage had become a well-known performance venue for well-known foreign performers and troupes, with Tehran’s Roudaki Hall built to serve as the national stage for opera and ballet. The hall, was opened on October 26, 1967, is home to the Symphony Orchestra of Tehran, the Opera Orchestra of Tehran, and the Iranian National Ballet Company, and it is currently known as Vahdat Hall.
The opera Rostam o Sohrab, based on the Shahnameh epic of Rostam and Sohrab, is an example of opera performances in modern-day Iran.
The state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran is in charge of Iran’s telecommunications. Almost all media outlets in Iran are either state-owned or subject to government oversight. Before being published to the public, outlets such as books, movies, and music CDs must be authorized by the Ministry of Ershad.
The majority of newspapers published in Iran are in Persian. Tehran is home to the country’s most extensively distributed magazines. Ettela’at, Kayhan, Hamshahri, and Resalat are among Iran’s most widely circulated daily and weekly publications. Among the English-language newspapers published in Iran are the Tehran Times, Iran Daily, and Financial Tribune.
In 1958, television was introduced to Iran. Although the Asian Games were televised in color in 1974, full color programming did not begin until 1978. Since the 1979 Revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has been Iran’s biggest media company (IRIB). Over 30% of Iranians watch satellite channels, according to experts, although the number is likely to be higher.
Iran first had Internet connection in 1993. According to the 2014 census, about 40% of Iran’s population uses the Internet. Iran is ranked 24th in the world in terms of Internet users. According to Alexa, the online intelligence firm, Google Search and Yahoo! are the most used search engines in Iran. Iran accounts for more than 80% of Telegram subscribers, a cloud-based instant messaging service. In Iran, Instagram is the most popular online social networking site. Direct access to Facebook has been blocked in Iran since the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests, due to the organization of opposition movements on the website; however, Facebook has approximately 12 to 17 million users in Iran who access the website through virtual private networks and proxy servers. Around 90% of Iran’s e-commerce is conducted via the Iranian online shop Digikala, which has around 750,000 visits each day and more than 2.3 million members. Digikala is the most popular online shop in the Middle East and the fourth most popular website in Iran.
With two-thirds of the population under the age of 25, Iran is home to a plethora of traditional and contemporary sports.
Polo, also known as owgn in Iran, is said to have originated there, with the oldest accounts dating back to the ancient Medes.
Iran’s national sport has historically been freestyle wrestling, and Iranian wrestlers have won Olympic and world titles on many occasions. Iran’s traditional wrestling, known as koti e pahlevni (“heroic wrestling”), is included on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural treasures.
The National Olympic Committee of Iran was established in 1947. Wrestlers and weightlifters have set the country’s top Olympic records.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Iran, with the men’s national team having won the Asian Cup three times. The national team has retained its status as the top Asian side, ranking first in Asia and 39th overall in the FIFA World Rankings (as of August 2016).
Volleyball is Iran’s second most popular sport. The men’s national team is presently the best in Asia, having won the Asian Men’s Volleyball Championships in 2011 and 2013, and ranking eighth in the FIVB World Rankings (as of July 2016).
Basketball is popular as well, with the men’s national team winning three Asian Championships since 2007.
Iran is a popular destination for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing due to its hilly terrain.
Iran has numerous ski resorts, the most well-known of which are Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak, all of which are within one to three hours of Tehran. Tochal is the world’s fifth-highest ski resort, situated in the Alborz mountain range (3,730 m or 12,238 ft at its highest station). Lorestan, Mazenderan, and other provinces may also have appropriate terrain.
Iran became the first nation in West Asia to hold the Asian Games in September 1974. The Azadi Sport Facility, Iran’s biggest sports complex, was initially constructed for this purpose.
International female champions boycotted competitions in Iran in chess (U.S. Woman Grandmaster Nazi Paikidze) and shooting (Indian world champion Heena Sidhu) in 2016 because they refused to visit a country where they would be compelled to wear a headscarf to participate.
Iranian cuisine is varied as a result of the country’s ethnic groupings and the influence of other civilizations. Fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins are often combined with herbs. Iranians often consume plain yogurt with lunch and supper; it is a mainstay of the Iranian diet. Characteristic flavorings like as saffron, dried limes, cinnamon, and parsley are carefully combined and utilized in certain particular recipes to create a balanced taste. Onions and garlic are often employed in the preparation of the accompanying dish, but they are sometimes offered individually during meals, either raw or pickled. Iran is also well-known for its caviar.