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Merely a hat
Photo essay: Iran in Amsterdam's diamond museum

Homa Nasab
July 1, 2007

I just returned from Amsterdam where I visited several museums. One of them was the newly inaugurated Diamant Museum.

In Merely a hat, the first temporary exhibition of Amsterdam's newly inaugurated Diamantmuseum, there are several references to Persian history and national jewels. A main panel in this truly glamorous exhibition explains: "The word tiara is derived from the Persian 'cidaris', originally a simple pointed hat, which over the course of the centuries was worn by sovereigns and prelates as an exclusive badge of honour." >>> Photos

One of the most eye-catching images is a reproduction of the portrait of Fath Ali Shah (1762-1834) from the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It is thoughtfully positioned close to a replica of the crown worn by Fath Ali Shah's Crown Prince, Abbas Mirza. The piece was "mainly decorated with pearls, and therefore not so costly. It is probably for that reason that it has been preserved. Crowns of gold set with diamonds and other precious stones have been taken apart and disappeared over the course of time."

Earlier in the exhibition, we find a photographic and textual reference to the historic coronation event of the 26th of October 1967 during which "Shah Reza Pahlevi of Iran crowned himself and his wife Farah as emperor and empress. His crown was made for the coronation of his father in 1925, whereas her crown was specially designed for her and made by the Parisian jewellers Cleef & Arpels. The empress's platinum crown contains 1469 brilliants, 36 rubies, 36 emeralds (one of which weighs 150 carats) and 105 pearls."

A more intriguing reference comes in a panel which surveys men's fascination and relationship with diamonds. Once again Fath Ali Shah, representing the glamour (and decadence?!) of the Orient, rubs shoulders with Europe's longest reigning monarch (72 years) Louis XIV and OBE (Order of the British Empire) holder David Beckham >>> Photos

Click on image to see 17

Click on image to see 17

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