زنان ایران نو ین : از جوی مدنی : آپادانا دی - بهمن 1388
Images of Iran 1970-1974
6 – The Ladies of Iran-e-Novin
Ever keen to promote International Understanding, Nasser and I set up a cultural club, we named the Tehran Fellowship; the purpose of this was to enlighten foreigners about varied aspects of Persian history and civilization. We invited experts in their fields to give talks on varied subjects such as Persian carpets, jewellery, silverware, buildings, pottery, archaeology, history and Zoroastrianism.
One of our popular lecturers was Professor Ezzat Negahban (1926-2009), who was the professor of Archaeology of Tehran University. He had already conducted us on an enthralling tour of an ancient settlement near Ghazvin, which his students had been excavating, dating back 7000 years.
This time our excursion was by train to Shush, Haft Tappe and Choqazanbil. About three dozen of us set off from Tehran in the evening on our outward journey. We ordered and enjoyed an excellent meal on the train and then slept soundly on bunk beds. We arrived in Shush the next morning and were met by Professor Negahban. We first went to see the Palace of Xerxes. Impressively it was supplied with pure water from the River Karun filtered through a series of sand beds, which are still in good order and could be pressed into use after so many centuries. Nearby and overlooking the whole Palace Complex is the fort which the French archaeologists built, for their base, some hundred years ago. Assembled on the parapets of the fort, we were fascinated to hear Professor Negahban pointing out the very gateway - described in the Biblical Book of Esther, Chapter 5 - in which Queen Esther stood and enchanted the Persian King with her beauty and dignity. As Professor Negahban spoke, we were transported over 2000 years and could see vividly the pomp and pageantry of the processions and functions at the Palace. At Haft Tappe we saw the astonishingly fine Elamite figurines made 3500 years ago and at Choqazanbil, Professor Negahban explained how the Ziggurat was constructed and how the bricks on every seventh course in the Ziggurat were inscribed with a dedication to the great god, Inshushinak.
Taking in all this knowledge was stimulating but tiring, so we looked forward to our train journey back to Tehran in the evening and especially the tasty meal on board that we had ordered the previous evening. We had not reckoned with the Locust Ladies of the Iran-e-Novin Party. This hungry horde had boarded the train at Ahvaz and was bound for a conference, convened by the Shah, in Tehran. Sadly for us, between Ahvaz and Shush, they had devoured every mouthful of food on the train. We, having nourished our brains were left with nothing to nourish the rest of our bodies. God is good and had gifted us with a keen sense of humour, so we returned hungry but smiling to our bunk beds.
The Iran-e-Novin Ladies had seized the chance of this important date to deck themselves out in elegant negligees and to our amusement flounced up and down the corridor of the train in their elaborate outfits of silk and lace. We heard that some had been to Paris to buy them especially for the occasion. I think we had come in jeans and tee-shirts, which we did not change at night. I wonder where the Ladies are now?
Sic transit gloria mundi, which Latin I translate: Thus passes the glory of the World.