@ask-iran has always inspired me to art. And honestly, I’ve always wanted to draw Iran, because she’s gorgeous af and such a great representation of Iran, but I felt my skills were never good enough to represent what is the fire of my inspiration..but..TODAY I SAID TOO BAD AND DID SO ANYWAYS
Greetings from Tehran. We’re here to cover Iran’s election - Hassan Rouhani, the president who made a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other powers, wants a second term - but there is so much more to explore. On Morning Edition we’re asking how Iran has changed in four years under Rouhani. And here On the Road we’re taking in scenes of Iran. This restaurant, called Thousand Hands, contains one little sign of change. The man puffing a hookah, in a smoking room reserved for men, is also reading his phone: phone data networks have been upgraded, creating bandwidth for more online business - and political activity. Join us On the Road the next few days.
Would you expand on what's wrong with Saudi Arabia and what's right with Iran? Asked in response to that post where you were prompted to describe your presidential policy if you magically became Donald Trump.
So that was *kind of* joking, and I don’t know anything about foreign policy, and this is probably the worst idea ever, but here goes:
Iran is a (partial) democracy with much more liberal values than Saudi Arabia, which is a horrifying authoritarian hellhole. Iran has some level of women’s rights, some level of free speech, and a real free-ish economy that produces things other than oil. If they weren’t a theocracy, it would be hard to tell them apart from an average European state.
In the whole religious war thing, the Iranians are allied with the Shia and the Saudis with the Sunni. Most of our enemies in the Middle East are Sunni. Saddam was Sunni. Al Qaeda is Sunni. ISIS is Sunni. Our Iraqi puppet government is Shia, which is awkward because even though they’re supposed to be our puppet government they like Iran more than us. Bashar al-Assad is Shia, which is awkward because as horrible as he is he kept the country at peace, plus whenever we give people weapons to overthrow him they turn out to have been Al Qaeda in disguise.
Telling the Saudis to fuck off and allying with Iran would end this awkward problem where our friends are allies with our enemies but hate our other friends. I think it would go something like this:
- We, Russia, and Iran all cooperate to end the Syrian civil war quickly in favor of Assad, then tell Assad to be less of a jerk (which he’ll listen to, since being a jerk got him into this mess)
- Iraq’s puppet government doesn’t have to keep vacillating between being a puppet of us and being a puppet of Iran. They can just be a full-time puppet of the US-Iranian alliance. Us, Iran, Iraq, and Syria all ally to take out ISIS.
- We give Iran something they want (like maybe not propping up Saudi Arabia) in exchange for them promising to harass Israel through legal means rather than violence. Iran either feels less need to develop nuclear weapons, or else maybe they have nuclear weapons but they’re on our side now so it’s okay.
- The Saudi king was visibly shaken and dropped his copy of Kitab al-Tawhid. The Arabs applauded and accepted Zoroaster as their lord and savior. A simurgh named “Neo-Achaemenid Empire” flew into the room and perched atop the Iranian flag. The Behistun Inscription was read several times, and Saoshyant himself showed up and enacted the Charter of Cyrus across the region. The al-Saud family lost their crown and were exiled the next day. They were taken out by Mossad and tossed into the pit of Angra Mainyu for all eternity.
What do you think about the fact that so many people wear plaid now? Like its literally appropriating a very important part of Gaelic culture. At first, tartan belted plaids were worn as everyday clothing and its becoming that again but now it originated and was important in Scotland but now anyone can wear it willy nilly. An important piece of a culture is something everyday now. I find that disgusting. What about you? Or are only poc cultures important?
I’m not Scottish btw, but I am familiar with the UK- here’s my take on it- humans have appropriated from one another through out history. But whether this multicultural spread of an article of one culture is harmful varies.
1. Well, just one thing first- I wouldn’t use the term “POC” outside the US. It’s problematic for a lot of reasons in that it dichotomises us in opposition to “white”, as though “white” is the default.
“Person of colour” is a very Anglo-American term. When we’re talking about cultural appropriation (and imperialism, oppression) on a global level, that erases the fact that racism and oppression isn’t always “white people oppressing POC”. Many, many non-European cultures are engaging in oppression and cultural appropriation in places where they do have institutional power- even if they don’t in the US. I am now personally quite against using the term outside the US context so loosely because “POC” itself is supposed to kind of be a term of solidarity. But it doesn’t mean much outside the US where a lot of times it’s other “POC” oppressing us. I have Chinese ancestry…and a lot of the most recent trauma is from Japanese imperialism during WW2. And the Chinese government has been in turn oppressing the Uighur Muslim minority in the XInjiang province. The term “POC” suggests some kind of solidarity in marginalisation by white people. That makes very little sense outside the US context.
2. I do think it’s possible European cultures can be appropriated from, but I disagree in this case because the aspect of culture being shared doesn’t exist in a wholly sacred form or one that requires you to be Scottish to wear it. There is a misconception on tumblr that “White people” cannot be appropriated from and it’s…just only plausible in the context of the US where white people have institutional power vis a vis Americans of colour. Europe is NOT homogenous, and a lot of cultures there vary in how powerful they are. A lot are marginalised by more powerful European cultures. The term “white culture” is really quite nonsensical- very obvious when you look at Europe. What continent-wide commonality is there? Their languages can even be divided up as Germanic, Romance, Slavic etc. There isn’t even continent-wide solidarity despite the EU, I can tell you.
I understand tartans are specific to clans and other community associations like a military unit- and that for a while the English tried to ban many aspects of Scottish Gaelic culture in the 1700s.
But I think a distinction has to be drawn between people who wear the kilt or the actual tartan cloth wrapped around the waist and thrown over the shoulder in Gaelic tradition vs. the pattern of the tartan being used in a scarf or something. Like if one is not Scottish, wearing the entire national dress like that has the danger of doing it wrongly, and doesn’t make much sense as those tartans are meant to say something about your clan or lineage. A scarf or bag with the pattern alone doesn’t imo treat the culture as a costume because the pattern alone is just one component of the whole attire.
While I agree that probably you should not wear a clan tartan if you are not Scottish, nowadays there are “universal tartans” which are like patterns that are what anyone can wear even if they are not Scottish. Wearing these imo, is fine because they were designed specifically in mind so that others can wear them and tartan patterns are a beautiful contribution of Gaelic culture to human diversity.
3. This is a standard I do apply to non-European cultures too- there are some examples where things from non-European cultures were spread and I don’t think it’s harmful cultural appropriation.
The high heel. Where did it come from? Iran. It was the attire of the Persian cavalry in the 1500s onwards- because Shah Abbas had the largest cavalry in the world. The heels helped soldiers remain steady while standing up in their saddle to fire their arrows:
Because of how powerful Safavid Iran was, the high heel was seen as a symbol of prestige and masculine virility. European kings and nobles started wearing them. How it ended up becoming just women wearing it is another story, but its origins were indeed appropriated in that sense from Iran- from being soldier’s attire to a fashion statement. If it were Native American wear I was talking about, I think many would find it problematic.
Do I think it’s problematic? No. Because Iran possessed institutional power on the global scale back then where the high heel spread. Safavid Iran was an extremely powerful country with enormous cultural influence. Whatever those European royals did posing in their heels didn’t really harm then in any way because well, they were an empire themselves with international prestige, and not being marginalised like say the Native Americans were. It couldn’t make Shah Abbas’ fearsome cavalry become a joke. Also, the heel was taken as a symbol of something positive (even though there was a bit of exaggeration going on). It is like how everyone wears blue jeans today- they’re seen as fashionable and something from a country whose lifestyle is to be envied. And the thing is, very few people today know the high heel women wear is of Iranian origin compared to how anecdotally, quite a lot of people know the tartan patterns are from Scotland. So, the origin of tartan is still quite rightfully credited to the original people who came up with it.
4. The fact that the people from whom tartans originated today do have a major role in sharing and controlling this export of their culture makes it less problematic. Scottish people do have quite a bit of a say in controlling the manufacture of tartans, are actually involved in doing that and therefore being compensated from it. That imo, is quite different from how Native Americans are often not consulted and lots of companies make cheap crafts that they passed of as genuine to compete with genuine Native American crafts made by actual Native Americans. To the extent that they needed the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (1990) to stop this.
5. Sometimes cultures change and spread as time passes, but often this means they will endure far beyond their original boundaries. It may exist in a slightly different form, but this way it doesn’t die. The spread of tartan patterns means that one part of Gaelic culture will exist far beyond the boundaries of Scotland. Think of how many ancient civilisations we have lost because they were geographically confined culturally. Till today, we cannot read the writing of the advanced, 5000 year old Indus Valley civilisation in ancient India.
A good example is Iranian carpet weaving. It is an ancient tradition that apparently dates back to over 2500 years ago, during the era of Achaemenid Iran (The first Persian Empire). After the Arab conquest, Iran was influenced by Islamic art which had a very mathematical and geometric aesthetic due to their views the portrayal of human figures as to be avoided (iirc it’s because it’s something to with the concept of how the depiction of the human form on a piece of work and hanging it can kind of be idolatry- and therefore taboo in a monotheistic religion. I should note that views amongst Islamic theologists aren’t uniform regarding this). Iranian art absorbed that, while infusing Arab art styles with floral and animal motifs that have spread and endured to this day- far beyond the Muslim world. Those floral, repeating patterns on wallpapers? On china dishes? Very much inspired by Iranian art.
Because it’s spread so far, it will definitely endure no matter what happens to the country, even if the textile industry there somehow falls apart (right now actually, Iran exports the bulk of Iranian-style carpets. It earns hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues- the bulk of it from foreign markets- because these carpet-weaving techniques are prized). And it’s great such a beautiful art form has spread around the world. Similarly, the tartan patterns are beautiful and a unique testament to the creativity of Scottish people. That’s a wonderful contribution to human diversity- this time, in terms of clothing and another idea of how familial ties and identity can be represented in one’s attire.
6. Every culture has something to contribute to human diversity, and if the people whom it originated from are very actively involved and able to control it, I think it’s great. We would be so much poorer if cultures had to exist within rigid boundaries.
I don’t feel people wearing the tartan is problematic as Scottish people today imo are in a much socio-political stronger position then they were in the past. Westminster has devolved a lot more power to them- there is a Scottish Parliament in addition to the UK Parliament. In fact, Scottish MPs can even vote on issues that affect only England whereas the English can’t do that vice versa.
That they have much greater agency and power to control aspects of their culture today, and actually play a big role in the tartan industry itself is also a big difference. Selling tartan is indeed one way they themselves are able to spread the beauty of their culture. Scottish textiles are world-renowned for their quality, and a lot of top fashion houses go specifically to Scotland precisely because that long tradition of textile making has resulted in a level of finesse that cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. The original people have the agency to decide how their culture is spread and actively benefit from it. Yeah, indeed don’t wear the Scottish traditional dress flippantly without being invited into a culture or checking with people from that culture. But the tartan pattern- as long as it’s not a special clan tartan pattern or say one meant for a specific community (a military unit etc)- why not?
((just two little Qajar era [1785 CE - 1925 CE] Iran doodles showcasing some dressing styles shown in photos and paintings, as well as Iran’s thicker physique during the era. This will be a part of another post, but I like it as a stand-alone drawing too :’)
I, ah, think this is less about me and more about them turning everything into a competition. Hopefully they’ll both forgive me for this.
But really, that’s not a polite question to ask! I appreciate all my allies, anon.
((Iran has pretty deep ties to both India and Pakistan historically and culturally. She can’t ‘pick’ one over the other, really! Though its true that India and Israel have been furthering political ties as of late, and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always had friendly relations. Such is international diplomacy.))
((Hello, everyone! I wanted to give a big Thank You to all of your for support and follows, likes, and reblogs! I’ve hit a huge milestone recently that I never thought I’d see!
6000+ followers! All of you are amazing and I’m so grateful that so many people love Ask-Iran! And a very special thank you to my Iranian friends who have taught me so, so much. I hope to continue doing the best I can with this blog, thank you <3 :) ))
Yes, I know being defined by some as being in the “Middle East” region that I am assumed to be an Arab majority country–but that is not the case. However, let no one make you believe that there are no Arabs in my borders. The same applies to the Turkic groups within my borders, the Qashqai, the Azeris, the Turkmen and so forth–nomadic or settled–they are here too.
((I’ve spoken before about Iran’s ethnic make up here, Iran has always been a mixed up, heterogeneous place and has been ruled by dynasties from various ethnic origins. The most notable Turkic-speaking dynasties have been the Safavid dynasty [1501 CE-1722 CE, though a note about the Safavid dynasty, while the Turkic origins are certainly there, as Shah Ismail the I had Azeri be the court language during his rule, the Safavid Shahs after him had been of numerous and mixed ethnic origins] and the Qajar dynasty [1794 CE- 1925 CE]. Arabs have lived [particularly in the South, like Khuzestan and Hormozgan] in Iran for centuries as well.))
dododo Iran! Unforunately, my dear Team Melli lost to Iraq in the AFC Asian Cup quarter finals, but they played like champions! They always make their vatan proud, though :) Forgive me for my absence here, I have been quite busy—what with nuclear negotiations with the West and the Asian Cup and everything else!
((A simple doodle! The game between Iran and Iraq was a heartbreaker! twitter was roaring with cheers and tears at the outcome, but Team Melli is full of wonderful players and they are certainly loved by their fans!