Amordad News

Birthday of Abbas Sahab: father of modern cartography in Iran

Translated by Shabboo Goli

On the 3rd of Dey, 1300 solar, Abbas Sahab, a geographer and cartographer, was born in Tafresh. Sahab is known as the founder of modern cartographic knowledge in Iran.

He is also the founder of the Sahab Geographical Institute. At seven, he and his father, Mirza Abolghasem Sahab, a renowned Iranian scholar, wrote more than 70 books.  He moved to Tehran from Tafresh so that he could continue his education.

He showed his talent for geography in school. An example of his cartographic work in high school was the “Map of France,” which he drew at the age of 13 and is now kept in the Sahab Institute of Geography and Cartography archives.

During the same period of high school, he drew the first map of Tehran in latin script, after 6 months of hard work. Together with his father, in 1315, he laid the foundation stone of the first private geographical and cartographic institute in Iran. He traveled to most cities and villages to prepare maps of different regions of Iran. In 1334, in partnership with the German Columbus Institute, he published the first geographical globe in Persian script and language.

As the author, cartographer and publisher of hundreds of Atlases, and geographic maps of Iran and the Middle East countries, the Persian Gulf and Iran’s historic dynasties. The compilation, which took 30 years to be completed, was supported by UNESCO, and for gathering the necessary resources and completing this atlas he traveled to 32 countries, but unfortunately this huge task could not be completed. Only the second volume entitled “The Art of Calligraphy, from the beginning to the present” was published in Persian and English in 2002. Studying, analyzing, and collecting historical and geographical documents of the Persian Gulf to confront the creators of fake names and prove the legitimacy of the Iranians was one of Sahab’s concerns. For this purpose he organized the first exhibition of historical and geographical documents of the Persian Gulf in 1345 in Tehran Municipality Cafe and compiled and published several volumes of Atlas in Persian, Arabic, and English and participated in scientific conferences inside and outside the country and organized exhibitions in this field.

Sahab Institute of Geography and Cartography, which is the result of work and efforts of three generations of the Sahab family, is the first private sector geographical institution in the Middle East. After his death, this great cultural institution, with nearly 80 years of activity, is run by his eldest son, Mohammad Reza Sahab, the third generation of Sahab family, and with the help of his wife and children, which are now the fourth generation of this family.
In addition to Sahab Institute of Geography and Cartography, Abbas Sahab has also left behind the Sahab Geographic Library, which has several thousand volumes of books and almost as many periodicals in the field of geography and more than 10,000 maps of Iran and the world. Abbas Sahab is the author, cartographer, and publisher of hundreds of atlases and maps of Iran, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and historical dynasties. By inventing a new style in designing and drawing geographic maps, he emerged as one of the most stylish cartographers globally. He was named the father of Iranian geography. Abbas Sahab is one of the last survivors of the generation of old and modern cartographers in the world who introduced courses on educational maps for the country’s schools, drawing thematic maps of Iran, geographical and historical atlases, textbooks and reference books, atlas of geographical maps and prepared and collected historic documents about the Persian Gulf. He also succeeded in designing and publishing historical maps of Iran in various periods from the Achaemenid dynasty to Zandieh.

Abbas Sahab passed away on Farvardin 14, 1379, and was buried in the Behesht-e ‌Zahra section of Iranian artists and scientists.

Azar, in Avesta pronounced as Atar, is the name of the 9th day of a 30-days month, and the name of the 9th month of the year of the Zoroastrian calendar. Izad Azar is the guardian of fire and an attribute of Ahura Mazda, and Azar is sometimes mentioned as an Ameshaspand. Azar is the source of fire, warmth and internal energy needed for movement and life. Izad Azar is one of the greatest deities of the Zoroastrian faith, and is the guardian of fire. Azar is one of the great creations of Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrians, in their history, have considered fire as their holy flag of Sepandineh, and Izad Azar is the guardian of this symbol of stability and endurance of Zoroastrian religion. Fire is one of the four signs of nature that Iranians have always observed. It is good on this day to pray to Ahuramazda.

In Iranian culture, fire is one of the most precious natural elements because it creates warmth and life in the body of all aspects of existence, and illuminates the souls and hearts of Ahura Mazda’s partners with its light which is a sign of Ahuraian (sacred) Azar. It is the direction in which Zoroastrian stand to pray to Ahura Mazda. Every Zoroastrian should turn towards light and turn his/her back on darkness when praying. Fire is one of the four elements of nature that Iranians have always respected. It is good to pray on this day to Ahura Mazda.

The sunflower is the flower that symbolizes Izad Azar.


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