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Cover of “The Countenance of Notables: the Portraiture of Renowned Characters of Yazd”
Cover of “The Countenance of Notables: the Portraiture of Renowned Characters of Yazd”

Luminaries From Yazd

Each picture, captured by photographer Shadi Shoaee, is paired with a brief description in Persian and English on the opposite page showing the year and place of birth, name and profession of the person highly known and respected in the region and beyond

Luminaries From Yazd

Portraits of Yazd luminaries have been compiled in a recently-published book “The Countenance of Notables: the Portraiture of Renowned Characters of Yazd.”

Released by Apama Publication in Tehran, the bilingual book contains 55 black-and-white photo portraits of renowned figures born in the historic city 620km south of Tehran in central Iran.

The portraits have been captured by photographer Shadi Shoaee. Each picture is paired with a brief description in Persian and English on the opposite page showing the year and place of birth, name and profession of the person highly known and respected in the region and beyond.

Regarding her book Shoaee says in the prologue: “Just as the most beautiful moments and landscapes are worth recording, there are faces whose portraits are precious … Some faces will never be repeated again.”

After a full-page self-portrait, Shoaee begins the photo series with the portrait of late school principle Farahangiz Moshtaq who was born in 1923. Next is the first professional photographer in Yazd, Rahim Khan Shir-Mohammadi holding an old model of a Yashica camera in his hand.

Other than cultural figures, Shoaee’s photos include notable personalities in science, industry, civil society, philosophy, trade and entrepreneurship, politics and religion.

President of the Academy of Sciences of Iran is the 12th portrait in the rare collection. Reza Davari Ardakani, 84, is seen sitting in a rather unassuming manner, with a salt-and-pepper stubble and a shrewd smile on his face. Ardakani is a prominent philosopher and a distinguished emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran. He is an expert in western philosophy and is known for his critical works on western culture and thoughts.  

The 16th photo shows the founder of Yazd University. Jalil Shahi, 80, shown with clasped gnarled hands on his lap, founded the university in 1986. The varsity is the first comprehensive institute of higher learning founded in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A few pages ahead, managing director of Yazdbaf Textile Mills stands sharp and proud in an elegant suit.

The entrepreneurial role of Mohammad Zarrabieh, 75, is held in esteem in and outside of Yazd. In spite of his age, he still works 10 hours a day.

Veteran well sinker Haj Hossein Dehestani, 74, is the 26th feature of the book. Since the age of 7, he has delved into the depth of earth. His immense lore about wells and qanats (underground aqueducts) is yet to be recorded.

Geographer, researcher and author Mohammad-Hossein Papoli-Yazdi, 70, is seen in the 31st photo. Among his numerous books and articles, he co-authored the Atlas of Iran published by the scientific geography center of Reclus in Paris.

  The Famous Termeh

Yazd is still the best place to buy a genuine termeh, a hand-woven, ornamental cloth of silk and wool that originated in the ancient city. Mohammad Hossein Rezaee, 68, whose portrait is included, is a notable designer and producer of termeh. In the photo, he is cradling a termeh wearing a smile of satisfaction.

Senior reformist parliamentarian Mohammad-Reza Aref, 67, a former vice president of Iran, is seen in one of the photos as is the celebrated actor and theater director Farhad Ayish, 66.

Ahmad Sadeqian, 65, is another CEO in the collection. He is director of Setareh Kavir Industrial Group, founded in 1981. Now a well known brand, the group (star of the desert) opened the first machine-made carpet factory in Iran.

The master of mystical literature Ali Asghar Dadbeh, 62, faculty member of Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran, is the 46th portrait of the book. He is head of the literature department at the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

The luminaries, whose portraits are on the final pages of the book include Masoud Jandaqi Meybodi, 60, pioneer of the modern tile industry in Yazd; bibliographer Hossein Maserrat, 58; and Asghar Nabil, 53, a tourism entrepreneur who built the Moshir Garden Hotel in the city, the first garden hotel in Iran.

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