About the SACWD
Enthusiasts of Persian culture, history and literature are familiar with the Ferdowsi millennial (Hazareh-ye Ferdowsi), a series of celebrations and scholarly events convened for five days in 1934 to commemorate the thousandth birth anniversary of Hakim Abulqasem Ferdowsi, the Persian language poet. Notable Iranian cultural and literary scholars and Western Iranologists attended the event. The distinguished participants included Abbas Iqbal Ashtiani, Malik al-Shu'ara Bahar, Nasrollah Falasfi, Badi`ozzaman Forouzanfar, Mojtaba Minovi, Jalaluddin Homaei, Ahmad Bahmanyar, Ebrahim Pourdavoud, Saeed Nafisi, Ahmad Kasravi, Moshir ad-Dowleh Pirnia, Sadeq Rezazadeh Shafaq, Rashid Yasemi, Abdul Azim Gharib, Vahid Dastgerdi, Mohammad Ali Tarbiat, and the European scholars Arthur Christensen, Vladimir Minorsky, Jan Rypka and Henri Massé. Much has been said about this enduring event which was ended up in the inaugural celebration of the new building for the mausoleum of Ferdowsi in Tus, Khorasan Province of Iran. However, not many people remember that the event was organized by the Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries. A less-known institution with a rich history of 95 years which has been committed to carry out valuable measures in the country during its remarkable history and has witnessed the activities of a number of prominent Iranian luminaries, each is regarded to be one of the noble pillars of Persian culture who have played a significant role in transferring the unique heritage of Persian poetry and wisdom to the contemporaries.
Amir Bahadur's Mansion, Later the SACWD Headquarters
The Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries (SACWD) is located in one of the most exquisite historical buildings in south of Tehran, the ornate mansion belonging to Hossein Pasha (known as Amir Bahadur), court minister of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar (1853-1907), is part of Amir Bahadur area located at the intersection of Valiasr with Bashiri street. The history of the building dates back to 1900, with an area of 3000 square meters, which used to be known as Amir Bahadur Hosseinieh, was bought in 1967 to serve as SACWD headquarters. Passing through the large and old entrance, one reaches a beautiful courtyard with tall walls, the entry foyer leads to a large hall way and to the left a mirror hall on the ground floor and the stairs lead to an auditorium on the top floor.
The Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries, originally known "The Association of National Artifacts" was founded in 1922 by a group of committed Persian scholars under the Association Charter in 14 Articles. The main function of the Association was increasing public interest in the preservation of historical, scientific and industrial works and the traditional handicraft industry of Iran. Under the first Charter the primary functions were: "to establish museums and libraries in Tehran, to register and classify Iran's national works, to maintain exquisite collections in libraries and museums, to foster public awareness of the importance of the collections through education at schools and exhibitions displays, and finally to preserve and restore Iranian arts and crafts. However, under the second Charter the functions were transformed as: “to commemorate Iranian dignitaries and to introduce them through publishing their works, to construct mausoleums, to create statues and to establish libraries and museums in other provinces of Iran”.
The Three Phases of the SACWD Activities
The activities of the SACWD since its establishment take place in three phases: The first phase from 1922 to 1934 which ends with the Ferdowsi Millennium celebration. The second phase begins from November 1944 and ends in August 1987. With the approval of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution in 1987, it was renamed ‘the Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries (SACWD)’. The SACWD members (according to the first and second Charter), with a minor change, include 15 founding members with the title "The SACWD Committee". In addition, there are an unlimited number of ordinary members and honorary members who are elected from the enthusiasts of Iran's science and industry. The board of directors of the SACWD consists of the head, deputies, secretary and auditors elected from the founding members for a period of one year, whose duty is to implement the decisions of the founding board. Some of the founding members of the SACWD in the first phase are Mohammad Ali Foroughi, Hassan Mostofi, Hassan Pirnia, Teymourtash, Keikhosrow Shahrokh and in the second phase, Hassan Esfandiari, Hossein Ala, Ali Asghar Hekmat, Hossein Samiei, Seyed Hassan Taghizadeh, Qasem Qani and Mohammad Qazvini.
The First Phase
The most important measures of the SACWD in the first phase, as mentioned, was the Ferdowsi Millennium celebration and the inaugural celebration of the new construction for the mausoleum of Ferdowsi in Tus, Khorasan Province of Iran. In the first phase, eight books on the structural and architectural characteristics of Iranian historical sites and Persepolis were unveiled.
The Second Phase
From August 1941 to November 1944 the SACWD discontinued operations due to the Allied invasion and occupation of Iran and the replacement of Iranian State. On December 14, 1944, a new Charter was approved and the SACWD resumed operations and achieved success until the Islamic Revolution in 1978.
As for the construction of mausoleums for the Iranian cultural and literary elites, examples of such measures include the mausoleum of Ferdowsi, Ibn-e Sina (Avicenna), Sa`di, Nader Shah, Khayyam, Sheikh Attar, Kamal ol-Molk, Baba Taher, Saeb Tabrizi, Sheikh Rozbehan Baghli, Sibawayh, Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharqani, Shah Shuja, Ibn Yamin Farumdi, Abu'l-Hasan Bayhaqi, Awhadi Maraghei, also, the construction of a mausoleum in the historical cemetery of Sorkhab, Tabriz, in the vicinity of the tombs of Seyyed Hamzah and Thiqat al-Islam as memorial of poets buried in Azerbaijan.
Among other activities of the SACWD are restoring historical monuments in Isfahan, Shiraz and Khorasan, publishing the works of Iranian elites and books related to the historical geography of Iranian cities and archeology, holding Ibn-e Sina's international congress in 1954 and publishing his Persian books and treatises including 19 works, books, Ibn-e Sina's Jashnnameh in 4 volumes and the translation of the first volume of the book into French.
Another activity of the SACWD before the revolution is to create 7 black sketches of Iranian elites, as well as 13 statues made of plaster, marble and bronze of Iranian dignitaries which were created by prominent Iranian sculptor master Abolhassan Khan Sadighi:
1. The marble sitting statue of Ferdowsi, gifted from the government of Iran to the government of Italy;
2. The marble sitting statue of Ferdowsi in the garden of Ferdowsi Mausoleum in Tus;
3. The huge bronze statue in Naderi Garden Museum in Mashhad;
4. The Khayyam bust made of marble in Khayyam's mausoleum in Neishabur;
5. The marble sitting statue of Khayyam installed at Tehran's Laleh Park;
6. The marble standing statue of Ferdowsi erected in Ferdowsi Square, Tehran
7. The mid-relief monument of Kamal ol-Molk in Kamal ol-Molk mausoleum in Neishabur;
8. Nader Shah bust in Naderi Garden Museum in Mashhad;
9. The statue of Amir Kabir in Italy;
10. The statue of Yaqub Leith Saffari in Zabul;
11. The marble statue of Ibn Sina in Mashhad;
12. The marble statue of Sa`di in Shiraz;
13. The marble statue of Angel of Justice in Tehran`s Palace of Justice;
The Third Phase
In 1986 with the approval of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution the Association of National Artifacts continued operations under the name "The Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries (SACWD)" implementing minor strategic changes. The SACWD board of trustees included the president, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance, the minister of culture and higher education, and scholars under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. In 1991, other members of the board of trustees were appointed by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, and the executive director of the SACWD was appointed by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance and it resumed operations in 1994. The SACWD since the approval of its Charter in 1987 by the Supreme Council of the Revolution until the approval of the amendment to the Charter in 1994- which can be regarded as the founding law of the SACWD- suspended its activities and only published 11 volumes of books that had been ordered before the revolution. However, since 1994 the SACWD has continued its activities and has held over 188 commemoration ceremonies in Tehran and 42 ceremonies in provinces, as well as 12 commemoration ceremonies for international scholars.