The Outlook for Iranian Cultural Heritage in the Next Century
Indeed, the country’s cultural heritage is one of the issues that has not had a good scope so fare. Evidence of this can be found in the “document of the 20-years vision of the country’s development”, since 2005. Regarding cultural heritage, it is stated: “Achieving the country’s cultural, geographical and historical necessities is one example of culture and history of our country. It is the essential pillar of the country’s development.
Unfortunately, not only were the goals as foreseen in the document not achieved, but over the last 16 years even more structures, houses, and historical sites have been destroyed, and unlicensed carvings (illegal excavations) have increased. Global naming of customs and cultural beliefs, etc., were registered in UNESCO by neighbor countries in UNESCO. Worst of all, the status of Iran’s cultural heritage and national identity, which includes its background, culture, art, language, traditions, etc., have not been effectively and adequately introduced to Iranians and the world. Part of the drawbacks and inadequacies of the cultural heritage system is due to lack of sufficient budget, inabilities of the cultural directors, disharmony of government organizations, duality and the law’s inefficiency. But the most fundamental reason for the problems of the cultural heritage system and its indifference towards the rich culture of Iran should be seen in the minds of many high rank political and cultural officials of the country, because some of them are still in conflict with parts of Iran’s culture and history and others do not believe in its influence on cultural development, reducing the anomalies of Iranian society, solidarity, entrepreneurship, income generation, and the result of this mentality can be felt in the cultural and economic chaos of the country.
If Erdogan sings the Araz song, if in the Republic of Azerbaijan, whose historical and real name is “Aran” is de-Iranianized with all its might, and if some in Afghanistan, which was part of Greater Khorasan until one hundred and fifty years ago, want to remove the Persian language, and if in the Arab countries, the Persian Gulf is called by another name, this indicates how these countries are exploiting cultural heritage to create history and globalization, and also indicated our weakness to defend the Iranian culture from the Amu Darya and the Caucasus to the Persian Gulf.
While Iran’s ancient history has faded and sometimes ignored in our textbooks, and these books do not mention the names of our national heroes and our legends; while the great Iranian poets’ names are erased; while our neighboring countries celebrate with pomp the Iranian celebrations but we are ignoring these same occasions; while Iranian music which has a long and proud history in this land, is considered Nowruz, “a day without a calendar”; while we call Nowruz, the diamond of the Iranian culture and civilization as a “celebration for donkeys and cows”, how can we be optimistic about the future of our heritage?
Cultural heritage is a national identity that is tightly tied to patriotism. While many countries have created production, activity, creative ideas and unity, with the help of the doctrine, we have looked upon our national identity with ideological, political and revolutionary worldview, one of the consequences of which has been the rise of ethnicism and the spread of separatist ideas.
Let us not forget that one of the prominent features of our cultural heritage and national identity, unlike other Islamic countries, is the result of the two Iranian and Islamic intellections, which join to create an incredible culture that has penetrated Iranian and the whole of the Islamic world. For this reason, it will be a damaging factor to prefer one over the other or to ignore one of them. Hence, if we want the dynamism and flourishing of Iran’s cultural heritage, we must respect national identity. The country’s political and cultural officials must elucidate whether cultural heritage is considered “national identity” or whether it is like a thorn in their throat that they have to bear, and if so, there is no hope for any chance.
Undoubtedly, researchers, cultural and media activists, and all Iranians will make every effort to preserve, preserve, and grow this ancient land’s history and culture. For this reason, like our ancestors, we honor passing from one year to another; we take Hafez’s ghazal as a good omen on the eve of the new year. We hope that the country’s officials will do new things with a unique and practical view of cultural heritage in the next century. Amen.
* Ashkan Zarei, researcher of history and culture of Iran