Representing Persian Culture

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been adding traditional Iranian or ‘Persian’ decorations to our collection.

These items were gifted to Discovery by the Pakistan Cultural Society in Newcastle – an organisation which promotes traditional and contemporary South Asian culture, heritage and arts events.

Last year, as part of their Islamic Heritage Project, the PCS displayed these decorations alongside stories collected from local Islamic communities.

Sarah Cotton, Keeper of Contemporary Collecting, said “We are always looking to collect objects which give information about the traditions of different communities within Tyne and Wear. There are so many different wedding customs – it’s great to have this Iranian table setting to represent Persian culture”.

One set of objects represents a wedding ceremony floor spread – the Sofreh Aghd, which is incredibly ornate and an important part of a Persian wedding ceremony.

Our new Persian wedding collection

Our new Persian wedding collection

This assortment includes a prayer kit, bridal veil, jewellery, bowls and a tray used to display symbolic objects and foodstuffs, and a large mirror and two candelabras which represent the bride and groom and brightness in their future.

The other decorations represent the Sofreh-i Nowruz – a traditional table setting for Nowruz, the ‘Persian New Year’.

Nowruz decorations

Nowruz decorations

Key to a Sofreh-i Nowruz display are the Haft Sin – seven edible items that all start with the letter sin (س) in the Persian alphabet.

Sohan -  a Haft Sin candy made from honey and nuts

Sohan - a Haft Sin candy made from honey and nuts

Our less traditional table set also includes rosewater, hyacinth flower (symbolising the coming of spring), candles (which signify enlightenment and happiness when lit) coins (‘prosperity’), decorated eggs (‘fertility’) and a bowl of goldfish (‘life’).

Decorated eggs for the Sofreh-i Nowruz

Decorated eggs for the Sofreh-i Nowruz

Goldfish in bowl - representing life. (Don't worry, they're plastic!)

Goldfish in bowl - representing life. (Don't worry, they're plastic!)

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