Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm Leaving for Pasargadae...

We Iranians are a fiercely proud and nationalistic bunch. We pride ourselves on our rich culture and long history. The Persian Empire, in fact, represented the world's first superpower, stretching from Greece to China, and covered parts of northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. It was an empire based on tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures. This is something that is still easily seen in the ancient city of Persepolis. The etchings in the stone illustrate people from the different nations of the known world all paying tribute to the king.

Persian Empire ©Wikipedia

It's no wonder, then, that Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire (the first Persian Empire), is credited with the creation of the world's first charter of human rights known as the Cyrus Cylinder

This clay cylinder dates back to the 6th century BC and is written in cuneiform script. The text is said to outline the lineage of kings from which Cyrus came. Though it has been disputed by some scholars, it is also said that the cylinder gives evidence of Cyrus' policy of the repatriation of the Jewish people. 

Cyrus Cylinder ©Wikipedia

The mausoleum of Cyrus the Great is located in the world heritage site of Pasargadae, one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites to see around Persepolis, just outside of Shiraz. 

It's here that I have to include a poem. For me, the language of poetry and literature is Brazilian Portuguese (after Persian, of course!). It's in this regard that I've always thought Iranian and Brazilian cultures were alike. Just like Persian, it's worth learning Portuguese for no other reason than to be able to read literature in its original language. This poem by Manuel Bandeira entitled Vou-me Embora pra Pasargada (I'm leaving for Pasargadae) describes a man who is dissatisfied with his life and wants to go to this city, which is described as a utopia. Granted, his poem is not a depiction of reality, but it's fascinating that Pasargadae represents his utopia. I will leave you with just a piece of it, but you can read the full poem here in Portuguese and English. 

Vou-me embora pra Pasargada
La sou amigo do rei
La tenho a mulher que eu quero
Na cama que escolherei      


I'm leaving for Pasargada
There, I am the king's friend
Have the woman I want
In the bed that I choose

The Cyrus Cylinder has been touring the United States and will be on display in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco through September 22. If you are on the West Coast, don't miss it!

♥ Pontia


  1. Just wanted to let you know that your Persian Empire picture from Wikipedia doesn't display. Cumprimentos! ;)

  2. Lovely. Thank you for making this connection between Persian and Brazilian culture. Although I am an american and the tools of English we use are often crudely fashioned, when other languages and cultures can convey the richness of the human experience us non Persians and non Brazilians are the better for it. Thank you for posting this.

    1. Thank you for your note! I also think that when we can form these connections across cultures, we see that we are all more alike than we are different. Thank you for reading.


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