National museum (Iran Bastan Museum, meaning Ancient Iran Museum) comprises of two Buildings: pre-Islam period & post-Islam period. The first Building, the older one, houses pre-Islam era’s objects and was built in 1937 by Reza Shah’s order. The second Building was allocated to post-Islam era’s objects. The second building was transformed into a museum after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, 1979. All the objects on display in this museum have been systematically unearthed. So, we know where the site is and who the excavator is. No object has been bought to be exhibited in this museum. All the objects have been arranged chronologically. This complex consists of the national library and a bookstore too.
The oldest objects on display date back to prehistoric eras. There is a three dimensional map at the beginning of the hall of the first Building on which one can see all parts of Iran. Then, very ancient collections of potteries are displayed beginning from the 5th millennium B.C, decorated very uncomplicatedly. The potteries are in three different colors: red, buff and black.
There are also various types of seals, clay tablets, figurines and ornaments. Bone-made and alabaster-made objects are also on display.
The next series of objects are bronze works of the north, northwest and Luristan province. In Luristan bronze works’ section, there can be visited samples of various kinds of objects used either in everyday life or ceremonies.
A replica of Hamurabi stele is also on display in addition to some other inscriptions of ancient Mesopotamia.
There are also rhytons of various shapes and materials displayed next to each other.
In Achaemenians’ section, there are stone bass relieves, glazed bricks, stone wares, bronze works, stairways, statues, columns, inscriptions and figurines.
One can notice the Hellenistic influence in Iranian art right after the Achaemenian section. There are lapis lazuli, potteries, stone and bone made objects in Seleucid period section reflecting this influence in some objects. More influence can be seen in the next section, Parthian period, where Greek gods are displayed in form of figurines.
There are also glass wares, potteries, stucco and stone relieves ornaments and ceramics in display in this section.
The last section in the first Building is allocated to Sassanian era, 3rd to 7th century A.D, where one can see glass wares, bronze works, stucco relieves, mosaic decoration, potteries, ceramics, ornaments and figurines.
There are three floors in this building. There is a showcase at the entrance of the first floor displaying one of the oldest mosques in Iran, Tari Khaneh, meaning the house of God. On the second floor, there are galleries around a hall for post-Islam arts. The third floor houses post-Islam architecture.
Since the central theme of the post-Islam period, beginning since 7th century A.D, is Koran, there is a central section in the arts’ hall with various Korans on paper and parchment together with a mehrab, a recessed wall directing visitors toward the Black Cube in Mecca.
There are also different galleries in each of which the objects belonging to one field of art are displayed as follows:
Lights; displaying candlesticks and oil lamps in glass, brass, ceramic, pottery and stone.
Carpets & Textiles; displaying various materials used for textiles and the different techniques to create works of art on them as well as carpets, grave covers, ceremonial shirts bearing specific prayers in special calligraphic styles.
Astronomical instruments & Zodiac signs; displaying brass or bronze astrolabes, manuscripts, books, globe, miniature and oil painting in related themes.
Ceramics; displaying plates, vessels, ewers, dishes, bowls, oil lamps and bottles in different shapes.
Glass and medical instruments; displaying glass cupping tools, test tubes, test bowls, test bottles, perfume holders, decanters, sprinklers, lamps, rhytons, manuscripts, etc.
Metal works; displaying swords, bowls, ewers, vases, braziers, caldrons, jugs, armlets, bracelets, mirrors and their frames, water pipe bases and heads, candlesticks, cups, basins, incense burners, mortars, pen boxes, knives, boxes, lamps, trays and ladles in different metals and techniques, etc.
Lacquer painting & writing instruments; displaying pen boxes, inkwells, writing sets, mirror frames, make up boxes, manuscripts, etc.
In the architecture floor, there are also different galleries each belonging to one of the post-Islam periods’ dynasties where one can see the evolution of architecture in Islamic buildings together with the arts implemented on them. The sections are as follow:
The early post-Islam period: displaying a map of the Islamic World, stucco works decorating the walls and mehrabs.
11th & 12th centuries: displaying stucco works, brick works, stone works, brick inscriptions, glazed bricks and tiles, a wooden fretted door, some well-decorated mehrabs, as well as a big jar that is luster painted.
13th & 14th centuries: displaying luster painted star tiles, turquoise tiles, indigo-colored leaf gilded tiles, turquoise-colored leaf gilded tiles, cross-shaped tiles, a fretted pulpit called menbar in Islamic terms and two beautiful mehrabs, one in stucco and the other in luster painting art.
15th to 17th centuries: displaying mosaic inscriptions, under glaze painted tiles, an inscribed marble mehrab, a mosaic inscribed mehrab and a wooden fretted work subtly inscribed with prayers.
18th & 19th centuries: displaying a wooden inlaid and mirror worked door, a wooden inlaid door and a polychrome mosaic inscription.
Also, there are many showcases in this hall displaying various works of art including coins of different eras.
Written By: Rahman Mehraby
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i forgot to tell you that i took all photos without FLASH so you see some of them are not clear enough ..