|ca. 90 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Iran||49,312,834 (61–65% of total population)|
|United Arab Emirates||238,250|
|Persian Caucasian Tat, and Judeo-Tat), Luri|
|Primarily Shiite Muslim, also Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslim
Irreligion, Christianity, Bahá'í, Judaism, Zorastrianism
|Related ethnic groups|
|Iranian peoples, Kurds|
The Persians are an ethnic group who speak the Persian language and share the same culture and history. In Western writings, it is common to name all ancient Iranians as Persian, although some of them were not of the Persian culture, and did not speak the Persian language.
Persian people include many groups, such as Tats. Most of them live in Iran.
From the early inhabitants of Persis, to the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires, to the neighboring Greek city states, the kingdom of Macedon, the caliphates and the Islamic world, all the way to modern-day Iran and Western Europe, and such far places as those found in India, Asia, and Indonesia, Persian culture has been either recognized, incorporated, adopted, or celebrated. This is due mainly to geopolitical conditions, and its intricate relationship with the ever-changing political arena once as dominant as the Achaemenid Empire.
The artistic heritage of the Persians is eclectic, and includes major contributions from both the east and the west. Persian art borrowed heavily from the indigenous Elamite civilization and Mesopotamia, and later from the Hellenistic civilization. In addition, due to the central location of Greater Iran, it has served as a fusion point between eastern and western traditions.
Persians have contributed in various forms of art, including carpet-waving, calligraphy, miniature-painting, illustrated manuscripts, glasswork, lacquer-work, khatam (a native form of marquetry), metalwork, pottery, mosaic, and textile design.
Ancient Iranian goddess Anahita depicted on a Sasanian silver vessel. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland.
Sasanian marble bust. National Museum of Iran, Tehran.
The Persian language is known to have one of the world's oldest literatures, with prominent medieval poets such as Ferdowsi (author of Šāhnāme, Greater Iran's national epic), Rudaki, Rumi, Hafez Shirazi, Saadi Shirazi, Nizami Ganjavi, Omar Khayyam, and Attar of Nishapur.
Not all Persian literature is written in Persian, as some consider works written by Persians in other languages—such as Arabic and Greek—to be included. At the same time, not all literature written in Persian is written by ethnic Persians or Iranians, as Turkic, Caucasian, and Indic poets and writers have also used the Persian language in the environment of Persianate cultures.
Prominent writers such as Sadegh Hedayat, Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlou, Simin Daneshvar, Mehdi Akhavan-Sales and Parvin E'tesami have also had major contributions to contemporary Persian literature.
The most prominent examples of ancient Persian architecture are the work of the Achaemenids hailing from Persis. The quintessential feature of Achaemenid architecture was its eclectic nature, with elements from Median architecture, Assyrian architecture, and Asiatic Greek architecture all incorporated. Achaemenid architectural heritage, beginning with the expansion of the empire around 550 BC, was a period of artistic growth that left a legacy ranging from Cyrus the Great's solemn tomb at Pasargadae to the structures at Persepolis, and such historical sites as Naqsh-e Rustam.
During the Sasanian era, multiple architectural projects took place, some of which are still existing, including the Palace of Ardeshir, the Sarvestan Palace, the castle fortifications in Derbent (located in North Caucasus, now part of Russia), and the reliefs at Taq-e Bostan. The Bam Citadel, a massive structure at 1,940,000 square feet (180,000 m2) constructed on the Silk Road in Bam, is from around the 5th century BC.
Modern contemporary architectural projects influenced by the ancient Achaemenid architecture include the Tomb of Ferdowsi erected under the reign of Reza Shah in Tus, the Azadi Tower erected in 1971 at a square in Tehran, and the Dariush Grand Hotel located on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf.
Xenophon, in his Oeconomicus, states:
"The Great King [Cyrus II]...in all the districts he resides in and visits, takes care that there are paradeisos ("paradise", from Avestan pairidaēza) as they [Persians] call them, full of the good and beautiful things that the soil produce."
For the Achaemenid monarchs, gardens assumed an important place. Persian gardens utilized the Achaemenid knowledge of water technologies, as they utilized aqueducts, earliest recorded gravity-fed water rills, and basins arranged in a geometric system. The enclosure of this symmetrically arranged planting and irrigation, by an infrastructure such as a building or a palace created the impression of "paradise". Parthians and Sasanians later added their own modifications to the original Achaemenid design. Later on, the quadripartite design (čārbāq) of Persian gardens was reinterpreted within the Muslim world.
Today, examples of these traditional gardens can be seen in such places as the Tomb of Hafez, Golshan Garden, Qavam House, Eram Garden, Shazdeh Garden, Fin Garden, Tabatabaei House, and the Borujerdis House.
According to the accounts reported by Xenophon, a great number of singers were present at the Achaemenid court. However, little information is available from the music of that era. The music scene of the Sasanian Empire has a more available and detailed documentation than the earlier periods, and is especially more evident within the context of Zoroastrian musical rituals. In general, Sasanian music was influential, and was later adopted in the subsequent eras.
Iranian music, as a whole, utilizes a variety of musical instruments that are unique to the region, and has remarkably evolved since the ancient and medieval times. In traditional Sasanian music, the octave was divided into seventeen tones. By the end of the 13th century, Iranian music also maintained a twelve interval octave, which resembled the western counterparts.
Traditional instruments used in Iranian music include the bowed spike-fiddle kamanche, the goblet drum tonbak, the end-blown flute ney, the large frame drum daf, the hammered dulcimer santur, and the four long-necked lutes tar, dotar, setar, and tanbur. The European string instrument violin is also used, with an alternative tuning preferred by Iranian musicians.
Carpet weaving is an essential part of the Persian culture, and Persian rugs are said to be one of the most detailed hand-made works of art.
Achaemenid rug and carpet artistry is well recognized. Xenophon describes the carpet production in the city of Sardis, stating that the locals take pride in their carpet production. A special mention of Persian carpets is also made by Athenaeus of Naucratis in his Deipnosophistae, as he describes a "delightfully embroidered" Persian carpet with "preposterous shapes of griffins".
The Pazyryk carpet—a Scythian pile-carpet dating back to the 4th century BC, which is regarded the world's oldest existing carpet—depicts elements of Assyrian and Achaemenid design, including stylistic references to the stone slab designs found in Persian royal buildings.
A Persian carpet kept at the Louvre.
Persian people Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.