Les Lions en Pierre Sculptee chez les Bakhtiari

By Pedram Khosronejad

lthough lions have long figured in Iranian history, art and myth as symbols of rulership, power, religious leadership or as steadfast guardians, art historians have tended to concentrate their attentions on court traditions and the role of lions in popular culture, especially in religion, has remained little considered until this book.

Funerary stone lions are to be found throughout western Iran, but are concentrated in the summer and winter pasture areas of the Bakhtiari, today’s provinces of Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari, west of Isfahan, and Khuzistan.

This highly illustrated colour volume draws on meticulous fieldwork and includes over three hundred photographs, drawings, charts and maps. The recording of this rare sculptural heritage, dating from the 16th century to the early 20th century, has become ever more pressing as some tombstones have been taken from their original settings and re-erected in parks, others damaged by the elements and some recently broken up to be used in road repairs.

Dr Pedram Khosronejad began his studies in Tehran before moving to France to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology with the support of the Soudavar Memorial Foundation which also funded the publication of his thesis in the form of the present book. His areas of research have been mostly concerned with an ethnographic understanding of death and dying among a group of traditional pastoral nomads in the Southwest of Iran, called the Bakhtiari. In his doctoral thesis, Dr Khosronejad explored themes closely related to the material and visual culture of death, namely, through an analysis of objects, artefacts and especially, tombstones, as well as the techniques implied in their creation and manipulation among the Bakhtiari. Besides working on such topics, which also included funerary rites, arts and mortuary beliefs, my research has been further motivated by an interest in visual piety, devotional artefacts, and religious material culture in the Middle East more broadly.