03.08.2011 - UNESCO

Promoting Memory of the World in Iran

Collection of Nezami’s Panj Ganj; © Sepahsalar Library (Shahid Mottahri)

At a meeting on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, held in Tehran (Iran) on 12 July 2011, some concrete actions were recommended in order for Iran to have further achievements in the field of the Programme. These actions include: integrating a study of MoW in higher education, organizing further training programmes to facilitate the preparation and submission of nominations for the MoW Register, and creating wider network with other institutions for the promotion of the Programme.

“We need to put more efforts along this line, as it is only through this way that the national capacity can be built up,” said Qunli Han, Director of UNESCO’s Tehran Office, in his opening remark at the meeting in Tehran. The event was organized by the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO to celebrate the inscription of two new Iranian collections on the Memory of the World Register. It was chaired by Dr Saeidabadi, Secretary- General of the Iranian National Commission and was attended by more than 30 participants associated with the Memory of the World Programme in Iran, including members of the Iranian National Committee for MoW.

The three actions mentioned by Qunli Han are parts of recommendations issued by the 4th International Memory of the World Conference (Warsaw, Poland, 18-21 May 2011). In addition, Mr Han put an emphasis on the importance of establishing a national strategy with a long-term goal, through which technical aspects of MoW will be easier to sort out. For instance, within a clear national strategy it will be easier to decide which period in the history of Iran is to be prioritised when identifying collections for the submission to the Memory of the World.

The following issues were also discussed at the meeting: the importance to identify and create a database of endangered MoW’s items; the need to have a broader exchange of items from different countries and regions; and the importance of linking up MoW with public broadcasting organizations so that promotional materials can be produced to create better public understanding of the Programme.

Participants were informed about a number of initiatives that have recently been taking place in Iran, such as a series of workshops on MoW, funded by municipalities. Presentations of the two collections recently inscribed on the Memory of the World Register were also made at the meeting. These two collections are: Al-Tafhim Li Awa’il Sana’at al-Tanjim (the Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology) by Abu-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, and Collection of long poems of Nezami’s Panj Ganj.

These new items have enriched the three Iranian collections already inscribed on the MoW Register: The Deed for Endowment: Rab’ I-Rashidi (Rashidi Endowment) 13th Century Manuscript, Baysonghori Shahnameh (Prince Baysongho’s Book of the Kings), and Administrative Documents of Astan-e Quds Razavi in the Safavid Era.

UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme was established in 1992 to raise awareness about the value of documentary heritage. Significant collections worldwide have suffered a variety of fates. Looting and dispersal, illegal trading, destruction, inadequate housing and funding have all played a part. Much as vanished forever; much is endangered. Through MoW Programme, these precious collections will be preserved and made accessible for younger generations to learn many great lessons from them.

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