The History of Persian Literature

Persian Literature is regarded as being the “Jewel of Persian Culture”. The reason it is so highly regarded is because it has influenced the writing of the Greeks in the Balkans, to Turks in Anatolia, and to the Muslims in India. One of the most famous Persian writers was, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, or Rumi, who is fairly well known in America for being a Middle Eastern Poet, but we cant start with him, as he is too far down the line.  We need to start earlier.

In fact, a lot earlier.  The first recorded Persian Poetry Verses are from the 8th century.  The reason all of this literature started to pop up is because the Islamic Caliphates lost control of Persian areas.  Some notable people from this period are Rudaki and Daqiqi, who were some of the first Poets.

Now on to Rumi.  He was not just a Persian poet, he was the Persian Poet.  It is believed he lived from 1207 to 1273, but that is not exact.  Any who, it is widely regarded that his greatest work was Maṭnawīye Ma’nawī, which is the Persian religious book for Sufis.  Rumi was a Sufi himself and much of his poems and writing is very religious orientated. He is also credited for founding the sect.  His legacy still lives on to this day,  as his poetry formed the basis for classical Persian Music and poetry.  He is also a one of the most well known poets in the United States.

This is Rumi.

From the same period we have the folk tale,  On Thousand And One Nights.  This story is absolutely amazing as it was updated, changed and even added to over several Hundred Years.  The story is about The Sassanid Queen who must tell her husband a collection of stories so that she will not be executed by him and reads him these stories over one thousand and one nights.

The Thirteenth through Fifteen Centuries were some of the best time for Persian Literature.  So much happened during this time that I will only give a few examples out of the fifty that I could.  Some of the most notable people include Zafar Nameh and Jami, who influenced Persian Culture so much that it changed forever.

For the modern Period, it has not been as influential, but there was a call for reform that spawned some more great writers, such as Mas’ud Farzad and Sohrab Sepehri.

Comment what are some of your favortie Persian Books below.

!خدا حافظ (Goodbye!)

 

Persian Cultural Centers Around Santa Barbara

I’m not sure is you guys know where I live, but I live in Southern California and visit Santa Barbara very frequently.  It is an amazing city and everywhere you go it is absolutely gorgeous. Now if you live in Los Angles, you may know that there is a fairly large Persian Community (which I may cover in a future post) but that has not transferred over into Santa Barbara. As I have said, I have spent quite a lot of time in the city and over the years, I have been able to locate a few awesome places who really show off Persian Culture, whether it be a secret menu or their selling point. If you are ever in Santa Barbara, you should go and check out some of these places for an insight into Persian Culture.

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A palm tree of the Santa Barbara beach.

First, we have the deli or sandwich place, Sam’s To Go.  They mostly serve all types of sandwiches, ranging from Turkey Melts, to what they call, “The Gaucho”.  I am not sure about all of their locations, or if they even still do serve this (I hope they do),  but I went to their Isla Vista Location a few years ago and they served me some very good Persian Food.  I think it may have been a really good Kebab or Ghormeh Sabzi.

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Now down on State Street, there is a little family owned rug store called Noorsher Furniture and Rugs. The Owner, Yousof, is one of the nicest people I have met and will take all of the time you need to help you find the perfect rug. He goes out to Afghanistan, Iran, India and a few other places to get his rugs and then brings them back to his store to sell.  The rugs at the shop are amazing, there are extremely high quality ones for upwards of $5,000. There prayer rugs and some other, large rugs that are in near perfect condition that were made over 60 Years ago!!  I defiantly you go check out this store and talk to Yousof and hear his story.  If you have the money, many of his rugs aren’t that expensive.

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This was one of the Rugs in the store at the time. It has most likely been sold already.

Comment below about Persian places or areas in your city!

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How To Find High Quality Persian Rugs

Persian Rugs are some of the highest quality rugs in the world.  The villages and towns each have their own styles, patterns and designs.  There are some other countries who make fantastic rugs, like Afghanistan, Turkey, and I have heard that Armenian Rugs are good too.  For me though, there is something about Persian rugs that intrigues me. Here are a few example of Persian Rugs.

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Why are handmade rugs preferable?

You may not care if the rug is machine-made or hand made.  This is fine but machine-made rugs are not as prized and are cheaper.

In this post I want to teach you about rugs.  I will show you how to find high quality ones, how too tell if they were mass produced, and how to tell if they are really worth the price listed.

How to find a quality Rug?

Well let’s just say that you have already found a place that sells quality rug.  This should not be hard because you can go on google and search for a rug store near you.  Now how do you check the quality.  The first thing to do is to see if the designs are clear and defined, or muddy and smashed together.  Also, make sure to note if the rug has a certain polish, but does not shine.  This means the rug was made from high quality wool.  You should also look at the fringe of the rug, as this is also an easy way to tell if it is handmade and high quality or not. The fringe should be a continuation of the stings on the back side and an integral part of the rug, rather than something glued or sowed on. Next you should  turn over a bit of the rugs so you can see the back.  If you cannot see the tan or whitish threads on the back are there is rubber or something else, just walk away.  This means that it was not handmade and a much lower quality.  While looking on the back of the rug, you need to look at that KPI, or Knot Per Square Inch.  This is a good way for you to determined how much work went into the rug.  If the KPI approaches 200, the rug is considered fine, and keep in mind you do not have to count that high, but you can make the determination about how high you are willing to count.  One last thing to look at is the symmetry.  If the designs on the rug and the knots are symmetrical, than the rug is of high quality.

If you find a rug that you really like, but does not match up to all of these indicators, then by all means buy the rug.  Only you can decide what looks good to you, I am just providing a way to check if the rug is handmade and high quality or not.  I hope you go to a rug store after reading this and check out some of the rugs there and maybe even find one that you like and buy it.

If anyone has a few more methods on how to tell if a rug is high quality, comment below!

!خدا حافظ (Goodbye!)

What language do Persians Speak?

I have said in my last post that Persians speak Farsi, but that is a bit of a generalization.  The amount of the language for Iran and the people who live or have lived there is very diverse.  Farsi is the official language of Iran but there many others, like Kurdish or Belushi.  They are they have their own culture with the language, but are very important to Persian history.  We will go over how these three languages have interacted with each other, along with their different cultures but right now we will talk about the difference between Arabic, Farsi, and the history of Farsi.

 

Farsi is the most popular language in Iran as it is the official language of Iran.  There are around 100 million speakers of Farsi worldwide. Farsi is part of a language group called Persian, which refers to Farsi, Dari, and Tajik, which are spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.  They are all very similar but they have a few differences.  For example, Farsi and Dari use the Arabic Script

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This is the Arabic Script, although Farsi needed to add a few more letters.

 

While Tajik uses the Cyrillic script, which is also used by most Slavic languages.

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This is the Cyrillic alphabet. It is used in Russian, Tajik, Serbian, Bulgarian, and any other Languages.

Now for a little history.  Farsi has evolved ever since it popped up all the way back in around 500 BCE(BC). It has been a hard journey for the language though.  When the Muslims conquered the Persians, they changed the official language from Middle Farsi to Arabic.  For a few hundred years, people stopped speaking Farsi and the language was almost completely lost. After Persia gained independence from the Muslims, they began to revive the language, culture and Literature.

The language has had three major evolutions, Old Farsi, to Middle Farsi, and is now Modern Farsi.

 

Now how is it different from Arabic?

Arabic is a Semitic language, while Farsi is an Indo-European Language.  This means that Arabic and Hebrew evolved together in the Middle East, while, Farsi’s ancestors migrated over from Europe.  There are also some major differences in grammar and in words.  Farsi’s grammar is very similar to French and Dutch. While Arabic’s grammar is almost unique to Arabic and Hebrew.

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The Green in modern day Iran and Afghanistan is Farsi and Dari, while the purple is Arabic.

The word order of Farsi is SOV (subject-object-verb)  An example of this is, I(subject) new computer(object) bought(verb).

We will now compare a few words and phrase from Arabic and Farsi.

 

Hello (informal)

Arabic:(marhaban) مرحبا

Farsi:(salam) سلام

 

Goodbye(informal)

Arabic:(ma’a as-salāmah) مع السلامة

Farsi:(khoda hafez) خداحافظ

 

Pleased to meet you.

Arabic:(motasharefon bema’refatek) متشرف بمعرفتك

Farsi:(az molaghat-e shomâ khosh vaghtam) از ملاقات شما خوش وقتم

 

Thank You(informal)

Arabic:(shukran) شكرا

Farsi:(mersi) متشكرم

For thank you, you may have noticed that the informal thank you for  Farsi, mersi, is the same as in French, merci.  That is one of the things that separated Farsi from its Persian brothers.  Farsi was influenced by French, Dari was influenced by Pashto(an afghani language) and Tajik was influenced by Russian.

I hope you have a better understanding of how Persians speak and the history of their language after this.

If anyone want some more language posts, please leave a comment below!

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What even is Persian Culture?

So what is Persian culture?  Persian Culture is something completely unique, which has been influenced by some many different outside forces.  From the Greeks, to the Muslims, and (surprisingly for a short time) The USA.  It does not only exist in Iran either, Persian culture is fairly prevalent in Los Angeles. New York and many other cities across the US.

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New York City

Before you are able to properly understand the culture or the people you must understand this; Persians are not Arabs.  They might live in the same region, maybe loom the same, worship the same god, but there are many differences that we will get into later. Now with some of the different aspects of the culture.  For many across the world, the only connection to this way of life are some of the widely exported things.  For example, many people know about Persian Rugs and their high quality.  For example, my picture for the top of my page is a Persian rug and this is an example of a turkish rug.  It looks nice but I am still a fan of the Persian Rugs

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People also know about the food, which is excellent in my opinion. Religion is also something that people associate with Iran and Persian culture, but it is not as you might think. Islam has also shaped the culture and politics of Iran in a major way as well, but there are some differences from the Arabs.  For example, most Iranians are Shia, but some are Sunni or Sufi Muslim.  There are also had a religion before Islam, called Zoroastrianism, which is still practiced in small pockets across Iran.  Zoroastrianism is like Islam, in that it is monotheistic (only one god), but other than that it has no other connection.

Persians do not speak Arabic.  This is a common misconception, but the Persian people speak Farsi, which is much more similar to French than Arabic, other than the alphabet a few words here and there.

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Sorry for my handwriting, I am still getting to grips with the Arabic scripts.

Speaking of Farsi, Persian Culture has amazing literature and poetry.  The art of making verses has seeped over from poetry to all forms of writing, from science and metaphysics reports to literature.  One of the most famous poets was جلال‌الدین محمد رومی (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi) popularly known as Rumi, who influenced poetry so greatly it even affected Greece and India.

Persian Culture is truly incredible and I am so excited to explore all of these topics and some many more with you all!

!خدا حافظ (Goodbye!)