The Centre for Iranian Studies at London Middle East Institute and the Brunei Gallery, SOAS are delighted to present an exhibition featuring a selection of Maps – urban plans, topographic maps, and sea charts – taken from the 'Dr Cyrus Ala'i's Map Collection of Persia' of over 250 maps that was gifted to SOAS, University of London in 2013. The collection includes important printed general maps of Persia and more specialist items from the early editions of Ptolemy, at the end of the 15th century, up until the end of the Qajar dynasty in 1925.
Iran or Persia as it was known in the West for most of its long history has been mapped extensively for centuries and many of the maps included in the exhibition will be publicly shown together for the first time. These maps illustrate how cartography and the mapping of the region advanced with scientific accuracy in detail, whilst not ignoring their often artistic and design elements.
The maps along with other supporting material are presented within the context of Persia as an important cultural cross-road in southwest and central Asia. Illustrating how the region was viewed, interpreted and recorded by both indigenous scholars and visitors from abroad.
Following 20 years of research the noted scholar, Dr Cyrus Ala'i produced a monumental cartobibliography in two volumes: General Maps of Persia, 1477-1925 (2005), and Special Maps of Persia 1477 – 1925 (2010).
The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the London Middle East Institute and Centre for Iranian Studies, SOAS.