by Babak Yektafar
"Welcome to Iran, The Country of The Nobles," is the title of a wonderful website created by Behrouz Hommayoun Far, an assistant professor at the Department of Information and Computer Science at Japan's Saitama University.
I must admit that what first drew me to this site was its location. Yes, I know there are Iranians scattered all over the globe, but an Iranian in Japan with a website proved to be an intriguing proposition.
I have been following the evolution of this site since last year, and I can tell that a great deal of valuable work has gone into what is now available to cyber travelers.
Three classical works of Persian literature are highlighted in this site. The presentation of these works displays a flair for design and layout. I found the page containing Ferdowsi's "Shahnameh" to be the most enjoyable of the three. The other two are Sa'di's "Golestan," and Omar Khayyam's "Rubbaiuat."
When one follows the link to Shahnameh, one finds a picture of Ferdowsi's famous statue (located in the middle of Ferdowsi Circle in downtown Tehran) laid on top of a subtle and complementary purple background. On that same page, there is a brief description of Ferdowsi, the greatest compiler of Persian mythology, followed by his great work itself.
All 18 chapters are displayed separately. Clicking on the "book" icon next to the title of the chapter will take you there. Each chapter is then divided into two or three parts. One can easily move back and forth between parts of a chapter or between each chapter.
The site also offers a Miniature Painting Gallery, although the pictures are not as vivid. The same must be said of other pictures in Hommayoun Far's files. His picture of Tehran University is disappointingly fuzzy. But these are minor problems within a cohesive and intelligent creation.
Hommayoun Far offers his visitors a table from which they can choose and explore subject matters such as Iranian history, culture, food, arts, etc. The text of these subjects are not very detailed, which could be a good thing for a casual browser, but there is enough information to satisfy a curious mind as well.
There are plenty of links to other, more detailed sites. There are also a number of links to a few universities in Iran (via gopher), as well as links to a host of sites related to Iran such as the mother of all Iran-related sites, "The Iranian Cultural Center," created and maintained at Stanford University.
Visitors are greeted by the host, like most other sites. However unlike most, this host recognizes its guests on a personal basis (a bit of Persian/Japanese traditional hospitality). Some "surfers" might enjoy their anonymity when dropping by a site, but I found the personal greeting to be an invitation for further exploration.
All in all, these sites are laudable pieces of work and a must-see site for all Iranians as well as those interested in the country of the nobles.