Elaheh Rostami-Povey

Source: Guardian

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Shah Abbas I, the fifth Saf av id ruler, came to power in 1587. Under his rule Iran became a great polit ical power, transforming international trade and diplomacy. His legacy, however, goes beyond political ambition and culminates in a clear and decisive vision for cultural and artistic expression and development.

Shah Abbas created a distinctive national identity by blending the ancient Iranian cultural identity with Shiism. (Intriguingly, this paralleled early nation-state developments in western Europe.) Today Shah Abbas occupies a special place in the national consciousness, as many look upon him as the founder of the modern state. His efforts to position Iran as a commercial and artistic centre between east and west have been inspirational for modern politicians who find in him a sense of national pride.

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