Shah 'Abbas
The remaking of Iran

19 February – 14 June 2009

Exhibition closed

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

Research funded by AHRC and ESRC

In association with the

In association with the Iran Heritage Foundation

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.

Highlights from the exhibition

Sheila Canby, exhibition curator, discusses two very different portraits of Shah 'Abbas giving an insight into his character.

Download transcript 

See more videos related to this exhibition on YouTube 

Teacher resources

Moctezuma teaching resources 

Moctezuma Powerpoint