Shah 'Abbas

The Remaking of Iran

19 February – 14 June 2009
Exhibition closed


This major exhibition explores seventeenth-century Iran through the reign and legacy of one of its most influential rulers, Shah 'Abbas I (reigned AD 1587–1629).

Shah 'Abbas was a stabilising force in Iran following a period of civil war and foreign invasion. He strengthened the economy by establishing global trade links between Asia and Europe and revitalised the state religion Shi’a Islam which is still practised today.

The exhibition will demonstrate Shah 'Abbas’s social, religious and artistic influence on Iran through the gifts he endowed to major shrines in Mashhad, Ardabil and Qum, and his magnificent new capital at Isfahan.

The objects, many of which have not been seen outside Iran, will include exquisite Qur'ans, mosque lamps, paintings, carpets, calligraphy, porcelain and silks.

Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran is the next major exhibition in the British Museum series focused on great rulers, following The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army and Hadrian: Empire and Conflict. This is a unique opportunity to discover Shah 'Abbas’s contribution to the creation of modern Iran.

Loan objects

The objects borrowed for the exhibition Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran (19 February – 14 June 2009) will be recommended for protection under Part 6 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (protection of cultural objects on loan). 

In partnership with the National Museum of Iran and the Iranian Cultural Heritage,
Tourism and Handicrafts Organisation

Research funded by AHRC and ESRC

Image: Detail of Shah 'Abbas as depicted on the wall of Chihil Sutun Palace, Isfahan, c. AD 1647. Photo: Ebrahim Khadem Bayat.

In association with the

In association with the Iran Heritage Foundation