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The origin of the name

 

Ispahan (Isfahan/Esfahan*) is a major city in Iran. It used to be the country’s main capital for longer periods in time and in the 17th century it already held over one million citizens, amongst whom many Armenians and Jews: there was freedom of religion under the rule of Shah Abbas I, the great.

Persians then called the city: 'Nesf-e-Jahan': half the world. Meaning that, if you had seen the city, you had, in fact, seen half of the world..


engraving by J. Schroeder 1859 ' Ispahan'

Just saying the name out load, ‘Ispahan’ evokes feelings of Oriental mystique, of a beautiful old culture, of (Persian queen) Scheherazade and her tales of 1001 nights, of the sounds of the Setar, Barbat (lute), Daf (drum) and Ney (flute), of beautiful poetry, of the scent of roses, of sweet perfume… !

In Ispahan, a palace called: Chehel Sotun (meaning: forty columns), was build by Shah Abbas II. It has twenty slender wooden columns, not forty, but the reflection of the entrance pavilion, in the waters of the fountain, gave the palace its romantic name.


Chehel Sotun Palace

Inside the palace, the walls and ceilings are decorated in a very special manor: frescoes and paintings on ceramic, display specific historical events and scenes (such as the reception for an Uzbek King in 1646, when the palace had just been completed; a banquet in honor of the Emir of Bukhara in 1611; the battle of Chalderan against the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, in 1514 and the welcome extended to the Mughal Emperor, Humayun who took refuge in Iran in 1544).

There are also less historical, but even more aesthetic compositions in the traditional miniature style, which celebrate the joy of life and love.

The fresco of a female, in the Ispahan-logo, has his origin in this beautiful palace. It’s a rare site in the Islamic world, to see people depicted in art, enjoying food and wine, dancing, making music and reciting poetry together..

Our country (The Netherlands) has a historic connection to Ispahan: being on the silk route, the city of Ispahan held a department of the VOC, a famous Dutch trade company, from 1623 - 1746.



Ispahan 1685 by A. M. Mallet, copper-engraving

To us, the name Ispahan refers to times of tolerance and it represents a joy of life, art and freedom, expressed through exotic (Oriental) dance. Dance is an unique international (body) language and the second one, after sound, that we learn. It unites all people on earth and through it, all emotions can be expressed. Even when prohibited, people will always dance, since:


“Everything in the universe has rhythm.
Everything dances.”
(Maya Angelou)

If indeed everybody and everything moves, all build from molecules, atoms and quarks, then why not move gracefully, joyfully, with elegance and style and, in doing so, communicating joy of life, to the world!

 

*The chosen spelling, Ispahan with a -p- is based on purely aesthetic reasons and an old perfume that came to mind, when brainstorming. No political or other preferences are intended.

 

 

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