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Persia - Expo Paris 1900

Persia at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1900
Architect(s) : Mériat

The Persian Palace was a very elegant building erected by a French architect, M. Meriat. He had chosen as his model the Mader-Chali Medrassah, one of the most beautiful monuments in Isfahan. A monumental doorway, 15 metres high, into which a deep niche framed by bands of beautiful glazed earthenware, formed the main façade.
The front part of the vast hall, which occupied the entire ground floor, had been converted into a sort of throne room. With its couches, its furniture, its antique pottery with metallic reflections, its precious vases, its rich carpets, its ancient damascene weapons, its jewels, its turquoise pearls from the Persian Gulf, etc., its embroidery, its fabrics woven of silk and gold, it had the appearance of a salon prepared to receive some prince of the Thousand and One Nights. And indeed, this room had been prepared to receive the Shah of Persia himself. It was known that the sovereign, who had come to visit the exhibition, had spent part of August in Paris.
In view of this eventuality, the General Commissioner of Persia, General Kitabghi Khan, had an imperial divan set up on which the sovereign sat during his visit to the Persian pavilion. For such a guest, nothing was to be spared, and so the ornaments were lavished by the Commissar General, so to speak. The imperial couch was surmounted by an enormous crown from which rich draperies fell in harmonious folds.
Ancient carpets of inestimable price had been laid out and scattered on the steps leading to this oriental seat. The divan itself and the cushions were covered with silk velvet covered with gold embroidery of great richness. Moreover, each of the pieces that contributed to the decoration of this imperial salon had a great value in terms of antiquity and art, and to indicate the magnificence of the decoration, we would say that what was contained in this salon was estimated to be much more than a million, not counting the objects of art.
Two large stained glass windows illuminated this magnificent room, and at night a sun set in the ceiling and electric sprays in the corners flooded it with light. On the stained glass window facing the imperial couch stood out the Persian lion; on the other window were verses composed by a Persian poet, singing the glory of France and the wonders of the Exhibition.
The rest of the hall was occupied by products of the luxury industries of Persia, Kerman carpets of admirable workmanship, inlaid vases, pottery and glazed earthenware, jewels, engraved turquoise, etc. The precious manuscripts, enriched with illuminations, of the great national poet Ferdouçi were also on display in a showcase.
A staircase at the end of the hall led to the first floor where a Persian theatre was installed, and from there to the upper terrace which was decorated with two charming kiosks with columns inlaid with mosaics made, according to the oriental fashion, of an infinity of small mirrors.
The whole palace had been executed with infinite care and despite its limited proportions was one of the most remarkable in the Rue des Nations. It is to be regretted that it was so unhappily obscured by the trees which prevented the elegant ensemble of its proportions and its delicate decoration from being appreciated.

©Louis Rousselet - L'Exposition Universelle de 1900