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Iranian art 94


Buccleuch Sanguszko Carpet (1) and two oil paintings from the Royal Collection (2). They confirm that Iran was a hub of international trade under the Safavid dynasty (1501– 1736), to and from China and Europe in particular.

But it was the relationship with an industrialised Europe during the course of the 19th century that paved the way to a profound change in the arts of Iran. This was reflected in new techniques such as photography, but also became apparent in changes to fashion and the growth of a tourist market. Craftsmanship developed considerably to supply the country’s bazaars.

The modernisation of Iran from the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century led to popular uprising and the collapse of central authority. After staging a coup d’état in 1921 and creating a new dynasty—the Pahlavis—in the years that followed, Reza Shah sought to redress the balance by reforming the country and limiting European influence. He advocated nationalism, as shown in a political banner from the V&A collections, adorned with symbols and allegories. After his reign in the 1940s, Iran experienced a period of social and political change, encompassing international rapprochement, but also political dissent. This eventually led to the Islamic Revolution

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7 The Sēnmurw Silk, Iran, 7th-10th century. Victoria and Albert Museum

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