IRAN, New Persian Irān (Mid. Pers. Ērān, from OIr. *Aryānām “of the Aryans” [see ARYANS]), name of the modern political state, also used, as noun or adjective (e.g., “Iranian plateau”), as a geographical term. The adjective is applied, independently of political boundaries, as an ethnolinguistic descriptor (“Iranian languages”) and a cultural descriptor (see GEOGRAPHY).

The following series of sub-entries will expand on the above definition. These provide an overview of the unifying factors which constitute Iran through time and across space, while also showing the complexity and heterogeneity of the components of Iranian culture. Many of the points touched on in these articles can be explored in separate entries under the individual keywords.

i. Lands of Iran.

ii. Iranian history: an overview.

iii. Traditional history of Iran.

iv. Iranian myths and legends.

v. Peoples of Iran.

1. A General Survey.

2. Pre-Islamic period.

3. Islamic period. Forthcoming.

vi. Iranian languages and scripts.

vii. Non-Iranian languages of Iran.

viii. Persian literatures.

1. Pre-Islamic literature.

2. Classical literature.

3. Modern literature. Forthcoming.

ix. Religions in Iran.

x. Persian art and architecture. See ART; ARCHITECTURE.

xi. Persian music.

(Multiple Authors)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 29, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIII, Fasc. 2, pp. 204-224 and Vol. XIII, Fasc. 3, pp. 225-336 and Vol. XIII, Fasc. 4, pp. 226-