Jan 28, 2020, 11:51 PM
Journalist ID: 956
News Code: 83652278
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Italian Iranologist, story behind silver samovar

Tehran, Jan 28, IRNA – The Italian author of 'The Art and Architecture of Persia' Giovanni Curatola on Tuesday reminisced about the story of a silver samovar in Iran, saying the memory brings back the decision he made to become an Iranologist.

In an interview with IRNA in Tehran, the archeologist revealed the story behind the silver samovar, noting in 1976 he obtained the beautiful old object while visiting Iran.

I was in a dilemma, he said adding, to sell the samovar and involve in the business by being an art dealer or to spend the money visiting Iran and be a scholar.

If I had chosen to be a dealer, I would have been well-to-do, the Iranologist joked.

Curatola stated that he has been always interested in art and archaeology, adding that he started his studies on Iranian architecture with the Ilkhanate period.

In the mid-1970s he spent some time in Soltanieh and became very interested in the architecture of Iran, he pointed out.

"In the meantime, in 1977, I was asked by a professor who was teaching Islamic art in Rome to take part as an archeologist in the excavation of the Masjed-e Jamé (‘Grand mosque’)," he underscored.

He went on to say that "Having the opportunity to work in Isfahan for over five months I became interested in Iranian architecture."

I have visited Isfahan, Chabahr, Bam, Kerman, Ahvaz, Shush, Kermanshah, Ardabil, Kalate Naderi, The Ribat-i Sharaf , Tabas and some other places, he noted.

Some years ago a quake hit ‘Grand mosque’ of Isfahan that some plaster came down and an inscription about Ilkhanate appeared that no one had seen before, he further noted.

**How the civilizations were conquered by "a key place"

In the world, there are old civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China and Roman, the Italian expert underlined.

If you think closely about these civilizations, you will find out all these were born around a river, Curatola added.

Iran is the only ancient civilization that was not born around the river, he said, adding that it is interesting "to me because it means Iranian civilization was born like unity but has been spread around".

The Italian researcher termed Iran as "a key place", adding all the civilizations that tried to conquer Iran were conquered by the place!

He described Iran as a "crucial country", adding that the country is a place that enjoys an ancient civilization.

Owing to the geography of Iran, its conquest has not been easy, he said, adding that even when Arabs arrived in Iran, the country said to them that "you won militarily not culturally as the roots of Iranian culture are so deep".

Building four Iwans in mosques is a typical feature of Iranian architecture, he highlighted.

Commenting on the significance of the Islamic and Iranian architecture, Curatola stated that "we need to have at least 40 Iranologists in Italy".

If you are lucky, curious as we as financially independent, you will discover objects of Islamic art that no one has heard about them before, he stressed.  

**"Big scandal" in Iraqi National Museum!

During 2003-2004, after the second war against Iraq "I was asked by Italian officials to go to the country because I wanted to help Iraqi people", the Italian scholar said.

In April 2003 the museum of Baghdad was attacked and 12,000 objects were robbed, Curatola added.

The museum had around 600,000 objects and 200,000 items among them were inscribed tablets, he pointed out.

The Americans who were there had not protected it, he said, noting, it was "a big scandal" in the world.

The entire museums in Iraq were protected except the museum in Baghdad! The people entered there and stole a lot of things, he said.

Elaborating on the consequences of the war against Iraq, he said that no one had checked what the missiles had done to the cultural heritage! Our group checked and took photographs and made a report.

"Are you going to publish it?" he quoted the Iraqi officials.

"No, it's your country you must do. I'm a consultant. I can just teach you the methodology!" I answered.

"I have to say the report has not been still published," he said smiling.

Iraqi National Museum needed to be in order. It was "fantastic" in a way and "very strange". I did what I could, he said.

**Spending 5 years for curating an exhibition!

In 1993, I organized the first and complete exhibition on "Islamic Art in Italy" in Venice. About 70 museums, as well as libraries from varied cities, sent objects, Italian Iranologist stated.

The problem with Islamic art in Italy is that there are a lot of objects on Islamic art but they have been dispersed all over the country, Curatola pointed out.

To organize the exhibition I spent 5 years, including 3 years for finding the necessary money and 2 years for doing it, he underscored.

The great part of this exhibition was on Iranian pieces, he said, adding because when you prepare a general exhibition on Islamic art, it must include at least 60 percent of the Iranian items.

Apart from teaching archaeology and history of Islamic art in Italy, Giovanni Curatola has written a number of books, including 'The Art and Architecture of Persia' as well as 'Turkish Art and Architecture: From the Seljuks to the Ottomans'.

Interview by Tohid Mahmoudpour


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