The majestic entrance to the Persian Section, a skilful reconstruction by the architect Delpy, reproduced, reduced to a third of its size, the portico of the Prophylae of Xerxes in Persepolis. Mr. Goldzieher gave a detailed description in his speech on the day of the inauguration: "The two side doors, supported by androcephalous bulls, are remarkably original. Under the warm colouring of the caissons and the frieze, the bulls, which the Persians had made the emblem of the power of the director, support the entablature of the portico, separated from the shaft of the columns by harmonious campaniles which surmount capitals simulating palm tree heads, symbol of renewal and of the force that creates. "
No sooner had the visitor passed through this imposing triumphal arch of massive pink stone than he saw the interior, raised by a few steps, of the talar or reception room. A circular colonnade was in the centre of the hall; the columns with cubic capitals had at their base the one-headed, two-bodied lion of the type decorating the Palace of the Mirrors at Isfahan; they supported a dome subdivided at its lower part by pendentive ribs with a covering of small pieces of ingeniously arranged silvered glassware. This talar, decorated with tapestries, objets d'art and precious furniture, well worthy of the splendours of the country of Scheherazade and Haroun-al-Raschid, was a specimen of the so-called "crystallised" architecture, which decorates the opulent palaces of modern Persia.
There was therefore, for the attentive visitor who wished to question some of the complaisant and often learned natives encountered in the Section, material for abundant erudition.
Weapons, jewellery, earthenware and embroidery were all there, in remarkable examples, awakening memories of an antiquity which, as we know, had its beginnings in the Elamite civilisation of which Susa was the famous capital. Long before the Medes and Persians, this was an Arian civilisation, not a Semitic one, like that of the Achaemenids, Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes. Some bas-reliefs found in the recent excavations of Susa, to which Mme Dieulafoy and M. de Morgan have gloriously attached their names, do they not go back, according to archaeologists, to about 3750 BC?
It is impossible to enumerate here the pottery and fabrics that were admired by visitors. And what can be said of the carpets, the thousand carpets, the very old and the very recent, those that time and use have faded and worn away, while their value has not diminished, and those that delight the eye with the bright freshness of their skilfully matched colours.
Finally, a unique piece of silk, measuring seven square metres, was shown, which had taken three young women from Shiraz six years to make.
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Bruxelles 1910