This rare, separately issued, large-format work is one of the most impressive maps of Iran we have ever encountered. Made early in the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi during a period of dramatic economic and social change, the map captures the entire country in considerable detail. Entirely in Persian script, in labels all cities and towns and geographic locations of interest; delineates roads, the rapidly expanding railway system, as well as noting harbours. Iran is outlined in a bright pink colour, while its neighbours are outlined in various attractive hues.
Interestingly, the map was printed by the Sadaat Central Library, a publisher and bookstore located in Tabriz’s Shishe Gar Khane Bazar. This was perhaps one of the most magnificent locations in which a map was ever created, as the ancient Tabriz Bazaar is the largest covered market in the Middle East and for centuries was one of the major stops on the Silk Road. Its amazing halls, with soaring ceilings of geometric brickwork, are still in use to this day, and00 since 2010 the bazaar has been a UNESCO world heritage site. The city of Tabriz occupies a special place in the printing history of Persia, as it was there that the lithographic press was first introduced to that country, in March 1821.
The present map appeared at a fascinating time in the history of Persia (officially called ‘Iran’ from 1935). The long-standing Qajar Dynasty was overthrown in 1921, and in 1925 Reza Pahlavi (1878 – 1944), a Russian-trained military strongman, declared himself Shah. Reza Shah proceeded to use the nation’s vast oil wealth to jumpstart a radical programme of economic and social development to ‘modernize’ the country. Indeed, the transportation infrastructure network depicted on the present map was then in the process of rapid expansion. However, while’s Reza Shah policies resulted in economic growth and technological advancement, wealth was not well distributed, and his authoritarian style and social policies alienated many classes of people on both the left and right of the political spectrum. He remains a highly controversial historical figure. Trying to play both sides during the opening period of World War II, Reza Shah was deposed in 1941, during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. His 22-year old son, Mohammed Reza Shah (ruled 1941-79) was placed on the throne and was to have an even more tumultuous and controversial reign than his father, ending in his overthrow during the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
A large and fragile ephemeral map, the present work seems to be very rare, although Iranian bibliographical sources are challenging to research online.
References: N / A – Rare.