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Iran has a rich culture; Let’s preserve it

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When I think of Persia, I think of rich colors, intricate designs and my one-time cat with her luxurious white fur and amber eyes.

Beautiful, hand-knotted Persian rugs have long been a mainstay of the well-appointed homes of the wealthy and equally beautiful, colorful and ornately designed tiles and ceramics are still much in demand.

In ancient times, the Persian Empire was the most powerful state in the world, bountiful in water, fertile land and gold. Prior to 1935, the country we now know as Iran was called Persia by most of the world, although people in the country called it Iran (or Eran). After the revolution of 1979, when the last Persian monarch fled the country in exile, Iran has been the accepted designation. Today, Persian relates to a particular ethnicity and Iranian, a certain nationality.

Very little ancient Persian art has survived, and the architecture consists mainly of ruined palaces and rock-cut tombs. Some sculpture is preserved, but no paintings. However, there is a thriving contemporary art scene in present-day Iran that builds on the rich heritage.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t see a lot of the current art or the verdant countryside. Images coming out of Iran, like from all of the Middle East, tend to be of battlegrounds, bleak brown landscapes and unhappy people in dark clothing against a backdrop of concrete or sand, but it is a country rich in history, tradition, art and culture.

No matter what political disagreements or military tensions there are, it is horrifying that someone, with the authority to do so, would threaten to wipe out 52 of Iran’s cultural sites. I’m just happy that particular hissy fit has passed.

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.