Photographer's Note

Shiraz is the birthplace of the ancient Persian civilization. Blessed with a moderate climate and easy-going people, it’s also the city of poets, literature, and Persian gardens. The earliest reference to the city, as Tiraziš, is on Elamite clay tablets dated to 2000 BC. The modern city was founded or restored by the Umayyads in 693 and grew prominent under the successive Iranian Saffarid and Buyid dynasties in the 9th and 10th–11th centuries, respectively. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. It was the capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1800. Two famous poets of Iran, Hafez, and Saadi are from Shiraz, whose tombs are on the north side of the current city boundaries.

I was looking forward to visiting Shiraz. Unfortunately, our visit was too short. We had no time to see the famous garden and the tombs of Hafez and Saadi. But still, we saw interesting places. In the late evening, we went to see Shah Cheragh. It is the holy place and the tourists can go around only with the local guide. At first, he told us, it is impossible to go inside the mosque, but finally we could go there and even we could take pictures in the interior. Every inch of the surface is covered by mirrors. Maybe I will show it later. The rather exaggerated effect, I think.

The site began as a funereal monument with a mythic past. As the story goes, around 900 CE a wanderer caught site of a mysterious light shining off in the distance and went to investigate. He found a luminous grave that, when excavated, was found to hold the armored corpse of an important Muslim figure. Thus the site became a popular pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims, and a domed tomb structure was created to house the grave. The site was improved and expanded over the centuries with religious schools and other facilities being added to the complex. In the 14th century the site’s signature mirrorball decoration was ordered at the behest of Queen Tash Khātūn who wanted the mosque intensify any light a thousand times over, the name “Shah Cheragh” roughly translating to “King of the Light” in Persian.

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13613 W: 141 N: 35295] (158988)
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