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The Pahlavi Crown

The Pahlavi Crown was the crown of the Shahs of Iran.  It is a particularly opulent and over-the-top crown crafted for the coronation of Reza Shah on 25 April 1926. To quote Wikipedia, “A staggering 3,380 diamonds, totaling 1,144 carats (229 g), are set into the object. The largest of these is a 60-carat (12 g) yellow brilliant which is centrally placed in a sunburst of white diamonds. Found in three rows are 369 nearly identical natural white pearls. The crown also contains five sizable emeralds (totaling 200 carats (40 g)), the largest of which is approximately 100 carats.”

The Pahlavi Crown was based on the already fairly gaudy Kiani Crown which had served as the coronation crown for the rulers of the supplanted Qajar dynasty (who ruled Iran from 1796–1925).  Both crowns are based on headresses from the pre-Islamic Sassanid Empire.  They were also both made out of jewels already in the royal collection—the majority of which was obtained by the great plundering conquerors of the Safavid dynasty (1502 to 1736 AD).

The Kiani Crown

The first Pahlavi shah transferred ownership of the crown jewels from the throne to the state.  The treasures have since been used by the Central Bank of Iran to back the national monetary system.  Although the crown jewels could be said to undermine the current Islamist revolutionary government of Iran–by providing unmistakable evidence of the splendor and wealth of Iran’s monarchical past–the revolutionary government has been displaying the most valuable pieces to the public since the 1990s.  This is probably because the jewels, obtained by ancient conquerors, still provide a crucial underpinning to the moneys circulated by the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A standard bearer of the Safavid army proudly holds his flag while keeping an eye open for plunder.


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May 2023