Eighty-five percent of the rugs we term “Persian” are actually Azerbaijani, made in the cities of Tabriz, Ardabil and Heriz in Iran. They are the rugs most people use on their floors. Why is it so important to share this? Persian, Azerbaijani, same difference. Non. Very different.
Right now, I’ve observed that most people use Persia and Iran interchangeably. According to several non-Persian Iranians this is incorrect.
Consider these ill-fitting parallels:
One wouldn’t say only Whites and Blacks live in America, right? We are, now, aware of the Native American Indian narrative, which is pre-White, Black, etc, history in America.
Yorubas might possibly be the most popular tribe from Nigeria, but one wouldn’t interchange Yoruba-Land with Nigeria. The other Nigerian peoples would have a cow! 🙂
Punjabi culture is big in Bollywood movies—a major Indian export—but you hardly hear Punjab substituted for India.
Somewhere in the past, starting with Reza Shah in the 1920s, Persia and Persian got equated with Iran, and the narrative of several peoples was rewritten. Today in Iran, the Persianization of minds, cultures, and peoples is encroaching on others, the designated minorities and it is robbing them of their histories.
Thought my new revelation with the rugs might be a nice foray into racial politics that exists in Iran. Past Fellow, Farzin Farzad has fair bit of moss on this issue. The thrust of this entry is the dispossession of the narrative of another. Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, talks about the destructive power of a single story. The video below is an honest narrative on the landscape of international attitudes.
Sometimes we’re perpetrators in the single story, sometimes we are bystanders, and sometimes we are the victims. Nevertheless, we can stop it. We can stop it with information and re-telling a more complete story (notice I didn’t say incorrect, most stories do have an element of truth—just not the whole truth). The Persian narrative is part of the Iranian story, but so also is the Azerbaijani narrative, and the Kurds (you hear about them in the American media because of their influence, even though they are less than Azerbaijanis), Baluchs, Arabs, Turkmens, and more. Iranians need a complete story. Moreover, we, the non-Iranians, can help by stopping the perpetuation of the single story.
Therefore, the next time you hear someone say “Persian rug” ask them where exactly in Iran it comes from, you might just be getting an “Azerbaijani rug.”
F.O.D (Face of the Disempowered)
Aydin Khajeyi, Tabriz University Law student, was arrested (again) on May 19. He is charged with threatening national security by being a GAMOH member (Southern Azerbaijan National Awakening Movement, [SANAM]). A recent jail returnee, Khajeyi just completed a 1-year sentence in November 10, 2009 at the Tabriz prison—for moderating the Azerbaijan Student Movement (AZOH) website. He also has a suspended 2-year sentence within an unknown probationary prison period, something authorities have neglected provide. This has grown incredibly problematic with his May 19 arrest, as authorities could increase the suspended 2-year sentence and even mandate a much longer probationary period. (In Iran, government penalties are very severe and complicated. For example, Khajeyi’s initial suspended 2-year sentence could have a 5-year probationary period in which he is not to engage in any activity the government deems criminal or he would serve the 2 years in prison.) In sum, he must lead a repressed and government-controlled life for at least 5 years, even after his 1-year imprisonment.
Posted By Adepeju Solarin
Posted Jul 22nd, 2010