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International Coffeehouses: Iran

This guide will provide links to resources related to the countries featured in the International Coffeehouses.

Panoramic photo of Iran


Сина (photographer).  Taken Nov. 8, 2009.  Tehran Panorama.  Flickr.  Retrieved from

Country Geography

Structurally, Iran is an extremely complex area and, owing partly to political difficulties and partly to the difficult nature of the terrain itself, complete exploration and investigation have not so far been achieved. In general, Iran consists of an interior plateau, 1,000 m to 1,500 m above sea level, ringed on almost all sides by mountain zones of varying height and extent. The largest mountain massif is that of the Zagros, which runs from the north-west, first south-westwards to the eastern shores of the Persian Gulf, and then eastwards, fronting the Arabian Sea, and continuing into Baluchistan (Pakistan). Joining the Zagros in the north-west, and running along the southern edge of the Caspian Sea, is the narrower but equally high Alborz range; along the eastern frontier of Iran are several scattered mountain chains, less continuous and imposing than either the Zagros or the Alborz, but sufficiently high to act as a barrier.


Audio Streaming on Smithsonian Global Sound

Album Art

Album Art

Album art

Album Art

Books about Iran

Books on Iranian and Persian Architecture

Books on Iranian Art

Image: Portrait of the sovereign Nasir al-Din Shah

Bahram Kirmanshahi. end of the 18th century. Portrait of the sovereign Nasir al-Din Shah. painting. Place: Musée du Louvre.
Image courtesy of ARTStor:

Famous Persians

Headshot of Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi (June 21, 1947- ) is an Iranian lawyer, writer, and activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. She was the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win the Peace Prize. She received the award for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights, both in Iran and in other countries. Much of Ebadi's work has focused on freedom of speech and the rights of women and children. Throughout her career, Ebadi has called for a modern interpretation of Islamic law that is consistent with the values of freedom, equality, and democracy. In 1975, she was one of Iran’s first female judges.


"Ebadi, Shirin." World Book Advanced, World Book, 2017, Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.

Image citation: Shirin Ebadi no Fronteiras do Pensamento do Sao Paulo (Sala Sao Paulo). (2011). Retrieved from on February 12, 2019. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

portrait of Rumi, Jalal al-Din al

Rumi, Jalal al-Din al (1207-1273) Born in Balkh (in modern Afghanistan) but lived in Qonya, Anatolia (Turkey). Initially followed existing Sufi paths, but became a visionary ecstatic in 1244 after being inspired on a new path of aesthetic and emotional mysticism, which developed into the Mawlawi (Mevlevi) order after his death. Created an aristocratic organizational structure, with hereditary succession and wealthy corporate status. Taught that the Master of the Way was to serve as a medium between God and humanity. Played an important role in Turkish culture and the reconciliation of some Christians to Islam. Sought identification of the human self with divine Being. Famous for humanism, devotion to music, and dhikr exercises incorporating dance where dervishes imitate the order of the universe by spinning in circles around the shaykh like planets revolving around the sun; this gave rise to the European expression “whirling dervishes.” Wrote more than seventy thousand verses of Persian poetry in ordinary language, expressing the experience of God's presence in creation and inspiring joy in the listener; common themes are the trials of separation from the Beloved and the joys of union with Him. 

Citation: (2006-01-01). Rumi. In . : . Retrieved 21 Sep. 2017, from

Books on Iranian and Persian cooking

Learn Farsi!

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Country Flag

The Islamic Republic of Iran lies in western Asia.The Islamic Republic of Iran is bounded on the north by the Caspian Sea, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, on the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the south by the Persian (Arabian) Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and on the west by Iraq and Turkey. Iran’s principal crops are wheat, barley, rice, oilseeds, sugar cane, sugar beet and cotton. Iran boasts a large number of archaeological and historical attractions, including Persepolis (dating to 515 bce) in Shiraz. Furthermore, the country hosts some important religious sites—principally the Imam Reza shrine and Goharshad mosque in Mashhad, the Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine in Qom, the Shah Abdul Azim shrine in Tehran, the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz and the tomb of the Prophet Daniel in Shush—which attract significant numbers of foreign visitors, particularly Shi‘a Muslims from other Middle East countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Tehran is the capital. The principle language is Farsi.


Books and Articles on Music in Iran

Music in Iran

Loris Tjeknavorian

Loris Tjeknavorian was born in 1937 and is will known as an Iranian Armenian composer and conductor. Tjeknavorian composed six operas, 5 symphonies, and numerous smaller works for various instruments and vocals. His most well known piece is Rostam and Sohrab, an opera.  Listen to the recordings below to hear Tjeknavorian’s conducting at work. 


Viguen (1929-2003) was known as Iran’s “Sultan of Jazz” because he was influenced by Western European and Latin American styles and equated to Elvis Presley.

Iranian Art and Architecture

Photo of the Palace of Cyrus

Winged Genius. Gate, Palace of Cyrus

(6th century BC, Photographed: 1968). Winged Genius. Gate, Palace of Cyrus. Retrieved from

Photo of an artifact

Applique in the shape of a lion's head

Applique in the shape of a lion's head. ca. 6th-4th century B.C.. Artstor,

Photo of the Tomb of Xeres I

Tomb of Xerxes I

Tomb of Xerxes 3rd century AD, Photographed: 1968. Tomb of Xerxes I. Retrieved from

Photo of the Shah Mosque

Shah Mosque

ordered by Shah `Abbas I; finished under Shah Safi I. Shah Mosque, interior, courtyard; south iwan. 1611-c. 1638. Artstor,

Photo of a detailed carpet

Carpet Technique; Carpet from Isfahan detail of medallion

Carpet Technique; Carpet from Isfahan, detail of medallion. 19th century. Artstor,

photo of the tomb of Saadi

Tomb of Saadi

Tomb of Saadi. Andre Godard, architect, 1953. Expanded 1953, Photographed: 1957. Artstor,

Photo of a painting

Episode from a Fairy Tale

Episode from a Fairy Tale 16th century. Episode from a fairy tale. Paintings. Place: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Gift of John Goelet, 60.637,

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Persian Cuisine: Kookoo Sabzi (Persian Herb Fritata)

Photo of a slice of Kookoo Sabzi  (Persian Herb Frittata)

Kookoo Sabzi  (Persian Herb Frittata)

I usually add 2 tablespoons of barberries (zereshk), similar to dried cranberries, and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts to this dish.

6 tablespoons oil
4 cups chopped fresh parsley
4 cups chopped scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh Chinese parsley
1 cup chopped fresh dill
4 green lettuce leaves, chopped
7 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped parsley, scallions, Chinese parsley, dill and lettuce and saute until the greens are wilted. Remove from the heat. When the greens are cool, mix them with the eggs, baking soda, flour, salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the barberries and walnuts if using. Beat with an electric hand mixer for 3 minutes.
  • Pour 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil into a 10-inch round ovenproof dish and place in the oven. When the oil is hot, remove the dish and fill with the greens mixture, smoothing the top. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove the kookoo from the oven and slice into 8 wedges. To give the sides an even color, heat the last tablespoon of oil and fry the wedges on all sides before serving.

Per serving: 161 calories, 8 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 12 gm fat, 186 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 441 mg sodium


Malek, Pari. (1998, March 18). PERSIAN RECIPES THAT KEEP MEMORIES ALIVE.(Food). The Washington Post, p. E01. 

Nicky Nodjoumi (b. 1942)

Image: Nicki Nodjoumi

Image source: Letternoon

Nikzad Nodjoumi, better known as Nicky Nodjoumi, is an Iranian-American painter. He studied at Tehran University and received his Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the City College of New York in 1974. His paintings confront Iranian politics and history to the point that he was exiled from Iran during the Iranian Revolution. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Image: Nicky Nodjoumi, The Target (Painting)

Nicky Nodjoumi. 2008. The Target.

Image courtesy of ARTStor:

Image: Nicky Nodjoumi, Pleasure of Hysteria (Painting)

Nicky Nodjoumi. 2009. Pleasure of Hysteria.

Image courtesy of ARTStor:

Image: Nicky Nodjoumi, Untitled Portrait (Painting)

Nicky Nodjoumi. 2005. Untitled Portrait. Paintings.

Image courtesy of ARTStor:

Image: Nicky Nodjoumi, To Point Out (Painting)

Nicky Nodjoumi. 2008. To Point Out.

Image courtesy of ARTStor:

Image: Nicky Nodjoumi, On the Outside (Painting)

Nicky Nodjoumi. 2002. On the Outside. Paintings.

Image Courtesy of ARTStor: