Iran and Thailand celebrate a relationship that dates back more than 400 years with a three-day cultural event in AyutthayaBesides sensational kaeng Mussaman and the powerful and noble Bunnag family, what have the Persians contributed to Siam? Well.
Take your own family up to Ayutthaya this weekend and you'll find out the answers. The Persians are back in the former Siam Capital and you don't have to be a Bunnag to like them.
"Ayutthaya World Heritage: Ayutthaya-Persian Relationship" is being held at the National Art Gallery from Friday to Sunday and commemorates the long-standing and close relationship between now Iran and Thailand (or Persia and Siam, as they used to be known).
With support from the Embassy of The Islamic Republic of Iran, the cultural show will be welcoming more than 50 renowned musicians, performers, and experts in arts and crafts from Iran to Thailand for the very first time.
"Persia and Ayutthaya will be reconnected through a series of unique cultural shows and performance of two nations," notes the Governor of Ayutthaya, Wittaya Phewphong.
History tells us that the relationship between Thailand and Persian was established more than 400 years ago, with the arrival of the very first Persian commercial ships of Sheikh Ahmad Qumi at the former capital in the early 1600s. Over the years, the Persian people expanded their community and increased their roles in trade. Some of them became high-ranking court officials; others went on to become the governors of major cities.
The marking of the Persian and Ayutthaya relationship this weekend involves demonstrations of carpet weaving, wood and rock carving and Iranian-style painting. Their Ayutthaya counterparts will show off their skills in tattoo making, iron smithing, garland-making and palm-leaf carving, sword fighting, Thai boxing and puppet shows.
The highlight is the cultural show "Sheikh Ahmad: A Truly Loyal Citizen" which portrays the life of Sheik Ahmad Qumi, or Chao Phraya Bovornrajanayok, the founder of the Bunnag family.
Iranian movies will also be screened, among them the documentary "Seven Faces of Iranian Civilisation", which takes viewers back thousands of years and the more contemporary "Iran Today". Goods, decorative items, souvenirs, and foods and drinks unique to both countries will also be on sale there.
Foodies will love this event, as a fragrant mix of cardamom, rose petals, milk and nuts, coriander and anise spice up Ayutthaya's air.
A favourite Iranian food that can be tasted during the event is Chelo Kabab, basmati rice eaten with grilled lamb marinated with spice. The famous Iranian caviar, which is made from three types of sturgeon roe - Beluga, Ossetra, and Servuga - from the southern coast of Caspian Sea, will also be available along with dates, raisins, almonds, pistachios, and Iranian perfumed tea that's treasured for its herbal and spicy aroma.
"We have selected about 50 well-known artists, actors, performers, and experts in arts and handicrafts to perform in Ayutthaya to make sure that event is perfect in every respect," says Mostafa Najarian Zadeh, cultural counsellor and head of the embassy's cultural centre.
"There are performances that have never been seen in Thailand before such as the folk dance Sarakhs and zurkhaneh, which is a traditional exercise similar to wrestling with rhythms from drums.
If you go
The cultural event "Ayutthaya World Heritage: Ayutthaya-Persian Relationship" takes place at National Art Gallery Friday to Sunday from noon to 10pm.