Iran Heritage Foundation is the leading supporter of Iranian heritage and culture in the UK. With a mandate to promote and preserve the language, history and culture of Iran and the Persianate world, IHF engages with academic, institutional and cultural communities in the UK and abroad. The organisation supports the learning of Persian through its Persian Language Online website, organises lectures, conferences and webinars, and partners with museums, universities and scholarly institutions in the appointment of curators, and the provision of grants, fellowships, and scholarships. IHF also supports publications on subjects relating to Iran. IHF’s remit covers ancient, medieval and modern Iran.Established in 1995, Iran Heritage Foundation is an independent, non-political, UK Registered Charity.
Charity no. 1001785
CAF Bank Ltd
25 Kings Hill, West Malling
Kent ME19 4TA
Faiz & Co Ltd
8b Accommodation Road
London NW11 8ED
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
London, EC4R 9HA
Board of Trustees in 2020
Ali Rashidian Co-Chair
Alireza Rastegar Co-Chair
Ina Sarikhani Sandmann
Dr John Curtis
CEO until October 2020
Academic Director from October 2020
Director of Operations from October 2020
Academic Grants Committee
Prof. Robert Hillenbrand Chair
Prof. Charles Melville
Prof. Ali Ansari
Dr Christine van Ruymbeke
Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis
Dr Sarah Stewart
Dr Alan Williams
Contemporary Arts Grants Committee
Dr Sussan Babaie Chair
Dr Nahid Assemi
Dr Nacim Pak-Shiraz
Ina Sarikhani Sandmann
Persian Language Online Committee
Narguess Farzad Chair
Prof Ali Ansari
Dr Ben Joseph
Ina Sarikhani Sandmann
Mina Bonakdar Sagharchi
The Directors were supported by
Dr Nahid Assemi
John Watson IT
Management and Organisation
IHF’s mission, vision, budgets and programme scope are set and approved by the Board of Trustees, which meet at least four times a year. A number of specialist committees support IHF, including the Academic Grants Committee, the Contemporary Arts Grants Committee and the Norouz Committee which organises IHF’s annual fundraising gala in London on the occasion of the Iranian New Year. The Persian Language Online (PLOL) Committee advises on the development of the PLOL website, which is owned and managed by IHF.
How You Can Help
Every donation, large or small, helps to make significant difference in achieving the Foundation’s objectives. You can easily make a donation by contacting the IHF office or by visiting www.iranheritage.org/donate. We welcome your support, and urge you to also become a Friend of IHF. Additional information including how to become a Friend and updated news on IHF programmes and events can be found at www.iranheritage.org. All those subscribed to the IHF mailing list will receive regular newsflashes and other information about IHF’s activities.
Sources of Funding
Important sources of funding for IHF include contributions from the Trustees, the annual Norouz fundraising gala, and contributions from individual donors and corporate and institutional sponsors.
COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had an adverse effect on the financial position of the IHF, not least due to the cancellation of our main fundraiser, the annual Norouz Gala. Funding in 2020 therefore came primarily through contributions by Trustees and also a number of regular patrons of the Norouz Gala, who despite the cancellation still opted to make a donation to IHF. We were also able to raise some money by auctioning artworks which would have been available to bid on at the Gala and which were instead entered into an online auction held by Bonhams. IHF is extremely grateful to Bonhams, in particular Nima Sagharchi, for their support and for including these items in the auction at no cost to the Foundation. During the year, our overheads and activity costs were significantly reduced.No financial support was received from any government organisations within or outside of the UK.
In 2020 the IHF continued its work with one of its flagship projects: Persian Language Online, which had previously been incorporated into the Foundation’s remit in 2019. The online programme provides a wealth of materials for anyone interested in learning Persian, including a website, www.persiananguageonline.com, and interactive apps for younger children. This main website contains a treasure trove of resources for students of all levels – visitors are presented with a variety of approaches, from animations and audio glossaries to interactive exercises. Learners are guided step by step from their first encounters with the Persian script, all the way to sophisticated texts on a variety of subjects related to Persian culture. In 2020, this has been expanded even further, by publishing a series of fortnightly blogs on the website, considering aspects of Persian language and culture across its vast area of influence, both present and historical. Some posts gave insight into the varieties of Persian spoken across the Persianate world, such as Afghan and Tajik, while others tackled topics such as Persian literature and Sufi themes in its poetry. These articles explore the richness of the Persian language, take students outside of what is usually offered in textbooks, and provide additional language-learning resources for those interested in exploring the possibilities afforded through learning the Persian language.
2020 also saw the first steps in a significant redesign for the website, updating it with the first stages of a fresh look, including a series of beautiful hand drawn illustrations depicting a variety of Persian motifs: the Cypress tree of Persian literature, the coloured windows of Nasir al-Mulk, and the 21st century Pol-e Tabiat in Tehran. With these developments and more to come, IHF is working to offer this vital resource for generations to come, supporting all those learning the Persian language – the key to Iranian culture, especially for members of the Iranian diaspora, for whom it represents such a crucial link with their heritage.
Three Asian Divas: Women, Art and Culture in Shiraz, Delhi and Yangzhou
Book Launch and talk by David Chaffetz
29th January 2020
From time immemorial, poetry, music and dance have been the premier form of entertainment all over the world, with women performers at the forefront of the tradition. While great western divas are well known, their eastern counterparts, many of them gracing the opulent courts of Iran, India and China, who have helped the transmission of these arts have passed into obscurity.Based on his book, Three Asian Divas, David Chaffetz, the author and a scholar of eastern art and culture, brought the world of these dazzling artists to life. With his focus on the Iranian diva, he drew comparisons with those who performed at the courts of India (Mughal) and Yangzhou (Ming), exploring the significance of these talented artists in paving the way for the emergence of the modern women in eastern societies.
Signed copies of the book were made available to purchase after the talk.
This lecture was kindly supported by an anonymous donor.
Online Course in Persian Calligraphy: Nasta’liq Script
21st October - 23rd December 2020
In October the Iran Heritage foundation offered its second ten-week course in Persian Nasta’liq calligraphy, suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced. The course was taught online, based on a one-to-one teaching method, so that everyone received the instructions according to their own level and previous experience. The first session of the course was dedicated to a general introduction to the traditional tools, materials, and various Islamic calligraphy styles. Thereafter, each student received a weekly personal guided video providing demonstration for the writing of an example sentence, enabling the student to practice and return photographs of their work to the teacher for comments and advice, along with new sentences to practice. The teaching was led by Keramat Fathinia, a prolific Iranian calligrapher who has been teaching the art for over seventeen years. He received a distinguished certificate in both Nasta'liq and Shikasteh Nasta'liq styles from the Iranian Calligraphers Association (ICA) in Iran, and has had several exhibitions, workshops, and demonstrations in both Iran and London, including at SOAS, Cambridge University, BIPS (British Institute of Persian Studies), and the Courtauld Gallery.
This new online course proved to be extremely popular and attracted students from a wide variety of backgrounds and locations around the world.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Throughout 2020, the V&A went through unprecedented times with the coronavirus outbreak. Before March 2020, Sarah Piram had been working on-site and was involved in the preparation of an exhibition exchange between the V&A and the National Museum of Iran, which was unfortunately cancelled because of logistical difficulties.Working on the Epic Iran exhibition was also challenging with the ongoing pandemic. Together with the co-curators Tim Stanely and John Curtis, and also Ina Sarikhani Sandmann, Astrid Johansen and Alexandra Magub, Sarah worked towards the organisation of the show, looking mostly at the interpretation plan, multimedia aspects, and negotiating loans.
St Andrews University
Ilse left St Andrews in 2020 and will be starting as Professor in Islamic Art History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich from January 2021. Her monograph based on the illustrated manuscripts of Farid al-Din ‘Attar’s mystical poem The Conference of the Birds will be published by Brill in 2021.
The Nahrein Network supports interdisciplinary research to enable universities and museums to better serve local needs, focusing on Iraq and its neighbours. The Network, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund Network Plus scheme, offers a Visiting Scholarships scheme providing short-term placements in the UK for Middle Eastern researchers. The scheme enables academics, cultural heritage professionals, and NGO workers to visit the UK for 1-2 months for training and research. The Visiting Scholarships Scheme is run jointly by the Nahrein Network together with other organisations, which in 2020 included the Iran Heritage Foundation in order to facilitate the placement of Dr Farhad Nazari, a scholar from Iran.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Nazari was not able to travel to the UK so this was a virtual visiting scholarship placement and started in December 2020.
The purpose of this research was to survey and document the historical sites impacted by dam construction projects in Iran, using the methodology developed by the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project at the University of Oxford. The EAMENA project uses freely available satellite imagery to rapidly record and make available information about archaeological sites and landscapes which are under threat.
Dr Nazari had a case study in the area of Moshampa Dam, which is under construction to the south-west of the city of Zanjan. In a preliminary study around the dam, carried out by Dr Nazari and his team before the Nahrein placement, about 100 archaeological and historical sites were identified, dating from pre-history to the late 17th century. The preliminary study suggested there were still more archaeological sites to be documented in this area. Using remote sensing techniques, Dr Nazari could geolocate archaeological and cultural heritage sites, and identified new sites and traditional villages in the area of the dam that had not been documented before.
Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period
A grant was awarded towards to the publication of Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period, edited by John Curtis, Academic Director of IHF. The book was published by James Clarke & Co. and has an appreciation and bibliography of Terence Mitchell, Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities at the British Museum 1985-1989. It includes articles by Paul Collins on ‘Five unpublished Persepolis relief fragments in the Ashmolean Museum’, John Curtis on ‘Where did the Persian kings live in Babylon?’, Christopher Walker on ‘The use of seals in Babylonia under the Achaemenids’, Alan Millard on ‘An Iranian in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar’, Terence Mitchell on ‘Biblical archaeology in the Persian period’, Shahrokh Razmjou on ‘Textual connections between the Cyrus Cylinder and the Bible with particular reference to Isaiah’, Prudence Harper on ‘Interpreting Sasanian beards: significant images in an interconnected world’, and Mahnaz Moazami on ‘Sasanian-Zoroastrian intellectual life in the 5th and 6th centuries AD’.
Iran Heritage Foundation regrets to record the passing of four distinguished friends and colleagues during 2020.
On 27th June, Professor David Stronach, OBE passed away at the age of 89. He was the founding Director of the British Institute of Persian Studies 1961-79 and Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the University of California at Berkely since 1981. A distinguished archaeologist, he directed a number of excavations in Iran and made an immense contribution to the study of ancient Iran.
On 19th July, the Hon. Kevin Pakenham passed away suddenly at the age of 72. He not only had served on the IHF Advisory Board from 2016-2018, in which capacity he provided much helpful and practical advice to the Foundation, but he was also a very generous supporter of IHF.
On 29th August, IHF lost its much-valued, long-time supporter and ex-Trustee, Farad Azima who for some time also acted as the Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer. Founder of Mission Electronics and holder of a number of international patents, he was widely regarded as being an inspirational and visionary entrepreneur. A generous philanthropist with a particular interest in cultural heritage and music, he was also a patron of a number of charities and good causes which he supported through the Azima Foundation.
On 12th October, Professor Sadegh Malek Shahmirzadi died in Tehran. A notable archaeologist, he directed many excavation projects, the crowning glory of which was his work at Tappeh Sialk where he conducted five seasons of excavations at the site. He also founded The Sialk Reconsideration Project and IHF’s 2019 publication about Sialk was dedicated to him in recognition of his work on the site.
PROFESSOR DAVID STRONACH
HON. KEVIN PAKENHAM
SADEGH MALEK SHAHMIRZADI
Iran Heritage Foundation would like to acknowledge all individuals, institutions, corporations and foundations who worked with or supported us by sharing their expertise, providing financial support or becoming our project partners.