The official religion of Iran has been Shi’i Islam from the Safavids in the sixteenth century to the present day. Little is known about the material culture produced, especially in Iran, by the narratives and traditions surrounding Shi’ism. The Shi’i world experience has provided a rich artistic tradition encompassing painting, sculpture and the production of artefacts and performance. This tradition has helped to distinguish Shi’ism from Sunni Islam, and to embed Shi’i identity in Iran as part of its national narrative.

Numerous studies have focused on aspects of Shi’ism and culture in Iran: on the Muharram rituals, the ta’ziyeh plays, Shi’i theology and the post-revolutionary politics of Shi’i Iran. However, few look at the relationship of Shi’ism to art or to material culture in Iran more widely. This is the first thorough examination of the art and material culture of Iranian Shi’ism within each of its political, religious and cultural dimensions. Pedram Khosronejad brings together highly distinguished scholars in the field to trace the ways in which Shi’i rule and theology have interacted with the architecture, art and material culture of Iran since the sixteenth century.

The Art and Material Culture of Iranian Shi’ism reveals the variety of forms in which Shi’ism has produced popular arts in Iran. It addresses questions such as: in what areas of material culture has Iranian Shi’ism manifested itself through objects or buildings that are unique within the overall culture of Islam? To what extent is the art and architecture of Iran from the Safavid period onwards identifiably Shi’i, and what does this say about the relationship of nation, state and faith in Iran?

This is an original contribution with a highly interdisciplinary approach that will appeal to all with scholarly interest in the history and culture of Iran and Shi’ism. The book will also be immensely valuable within the fields of Middle East and Islamic studies more broadly – whether from the perspectives of history, politics, religion or the history of art.

Author : Pedram Khosronejad

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