The last few days have proven, most unexpectedly, to be quite exciting and intriguing! Early on Thursday afternoon the Iranian Embassy, The Hague, rang the TRC to say there was a delegation of Iranian officials in the Netherlands and they would very much like to come and see the TRC, discuss how we work, and to review our collection of Iranian dress, which we assembled some fifteen years ago in Iran. At present, the Iranian dress and textiles collection at the TRC consists of over 1200 items and includes garments and outfits for men, women and children from all the main cultural and ethnic groups in the country. We could collect the textiles thanks to the financial support of Shell and the enthusiastic cooperation of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO).
A few hours later our honoured guests arrived. They included His Excellency Mr. Masoud Soltanifar, Vice-President of Iran and President of the ICHHTO; the wife of Mr. Soltanifar; Dr. Bahman Motlagh (the deputy of Mr. Soltanifar; the wife of the Iranian ambassador to The Netherlands, and staff from the Iranian Embassy.
Willem and I talked with our guests about Iran (my husband and I have been there many times), how to make a collection, store it and make it available digitally. As so often happens, the TRC deep-freezer was the star attraction! (a very simple, but indispensable piece of equipment: it is used to freeze insects, moths, etc. in the textiles). We were given a large box of pistachio nuts and a beautiful textile from Yazd (see illustration). We also talked about the support the TRC could extend to our Iranian friends in building up a representative collection of local clothing from Iran and neighbouring countries, to be housed, studied and displayed in Iran itself. Perhaps in a few months' time we will be able to report that the TRC is involved in setting up a joint Iranian-Dutch project about Iranian traditional dress.
The next morning, Willem and I went to the opening of the Iran - Netherlands Trade and Cultural Center, here in Leiderdorp. Speakers at the opening included Mr. Soltanifar, Vice-President of Iran; the Iranian Ambassador, H.E. Ali-Reza Jahangiri; Mr. Mazyar Timjani (the brains and power behind the Centre), as well as leaders of various Chambers of Commerce in Iran and the Netherlands, and a former Dutch Ambassador to Iran. This is a wonderful initiative with a display of beautiful textiles, carpets, household items, many of them also for sale, as well as with offices for short-term lease, spaces for regular exhibitions and for courses on Iranian culture, language, history and so forth. It will be well worth while for anyone who has been to Iran and who would like to remain in touch with Iranian culture and civilisatiion to keep an eye on their activities.
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 10 September 2016