Farhang Foundation Heritage Award

Since launching in 2009, Farhang Foundation has set out to recognize those remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to the preservation of Iranian culture and history, the advancement of Iranian studies, and the enrichment of society through their extraordinary artistic contributions.


Shirin NeshatShirin Neshat – for her "enrichment of society through her extraordinary artistic contributions to the world".

Born in Iran and educated in the U.S., Neshat became a critically acclaimed international artist following her groundbreaking Women of Allah photography series in the 1990s. Neshat's body of work is perhaps most renowned for both its stunning visuals and its exploration of the role of women within the constraints of misogyny and religion. In 2010, Neshat was named Artist of the Decade by Huffington Post's G. Roger Denson.

"Shirin Neshat possesses an unrelenting desire to explore the marginalized aspects of the human condition," said Dr. Hooshang Pak, Farhang Trustee and Chair of the Farhang Heritage Awards Committee. "As an Iranian artist, her work presents her findings in truly striking and thought-provoking ways, and in doing so, she helps make the world a more enlightened and empathetic place. We are honored to recognize Ms. Neshat's artistic contributions and look forward to seeing the fruits of her tremendous talent for years to come."

Neshat Photos


Top: Photo by Rodolfo Martinez. Left: Shirin Neshat, Untitled, 1996, RC print & ink (photo taken by Larry Barns), Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Middle: Shirin Neshat, Speechless, 1996, Gelatin silver print and ink, Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Right: Shirin Neshat, Allegiance with Wakefulness 1994, RC print & ink (photo taken by Cynthia Preston) Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels


Najmieh Batmanglij – for her passionate dedication and relentless commitment to excellence in promoting Persian culture through its rich, ancient and deep rooted culinary art.

Mrs. Najmieh Batmanglij was recognized with the 2013 Farhang Heritage Award in honor of her passionate dedication and relentless commitment to excellence in promoting Persian culture through its rich, ancient and deep rooted culinary art.


Houshang Seyhoun – for his celebrated and lasting contributions to modernization of Iranian traditional architecture and mentorship of generations of aspiring Iranian architects and fine arts students.

On Saturday, November 9, 2013 Farhang Foundation had the distinct honor of recognizing the contributions of the remarkable painter, scholar, and architect, Houshang Seyhoun, and the culinary "guru" Najmieh Batmanglij with the annual Farhang Lifetime Achievement and Heritage awards. 

"We are honored to recognize the lasting legacies of these two great individuals who have shared their talents with the world and as a result made it a much brighter place," said Dr. Hooshang Pak, trustee and chair of Farhang Award Committee.  "The efforts of Houshang Seyhoun and Najmieh Batmanglij, each a master in his and her own craft, have not only contributed to the advancement of Iranian culture, but have enriched the lives of people across the globe."


Bahram BeyzaieOn Saturday, December 1, 2012, Farhang Foundation recognized the incomparable Bahram Beyzaie with the 2012 Farhang Heritage Award in recognition of his devotion to art, his enduring scholarship and contribution to the range of Iranian theatrical forms, and his love of the aesthetic and cultural legacy of Iran.

With more than thirty-five plays and fifty screenplays to his credit, Mr. Beyzaie's illustrious career as a filmmaker has spanned four decades and he has been noted for his pivotal role in Iran's new wave of cinema. He made ten features and four short films, among them Mustachioed Uncle, The Journey, Talking with the Wind, The Speaking Carpet, Downpour, The Stranger and the Fog, The Crow, The Ballad of Tara, Death of Yazdgerd, Bashu, The Little Stranger, Maybe Some Other Time, The Travelers, Killing Rabids, and While We Are All Asleep.

As a scholar, Mr. Beyzaie has written one of the most authoritative works on the history of Iranian theater and has recently completed a manuscript on A Thousand and One Nights, in which he presents a new interpretation of the Indo-Iranian origins of these tales.

Farhang Foundation is honored to recognize the remarkable contributions of Mr. Beyzaie and individuals who, like him, have devoted their lives to their craft and the advancement of Iranian art, culture, and studies.

Abbas MilaniDr. Abbas Milani – For his distinguished record as a prolific writer, teacher and researcher of the modern history of Iran.

During the 4th Annual Nowruz Celebration at LACMA, Farhang Foundation recognized the contributions of three truly distinguished scholars. The 2012 Farhang Heritage Award was presented to Dr. Abbas Milani, the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University. He has been one of the founding co-directors of the Iran Democracy Project and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. His expertise is U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iranian cultural, political, and security issues. Till 1986, he taught at Tehran University's Faculty of Law and Political Science where he was also a member of the Board of Directors of the university's Center for International Relations.


The Farhang Lifetime Achievement Award was posthumously presented to two remarkable men who passed away in 2011:

The acclaimed scholar, publisher, and researcher, Iraj Afshar, had a deeply profound impact on the Iranian Studies discipline. For 30 years he served as the editor and publisher of several important scholarly journals and was also associated with a number of literary journals. As a prolific author, the list of books and articles that Iraj Afshar either personally authored, or was in some way involved with, runs to more than two hundred pages of small print. The number of scholarly articles, prefaces, and notes penned by Afshar exceeds three thousand.

Dr. Hossein Ziai, the professor of Islamic and Iranian Studies and the director of Iranian Studies at UCLA, contributed to numerous publications and articles spanning a variety of topics. His books include: Philosophy of Mathematics; Anvāriyyeh (The Realm of Lights); Knowledge and Illumination; Shahrazūrī’s Sharḥ Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq, on Illuminationist Philosophy; The Book of Radiance; The Philosophy of Illumination; The Ball and Polo Stick; Ibn Kammūna’s Sharḥ al-Talwīḥāt, on Natural Philosophy and Psychology.


Simin BehbahaniSimin Behbahani - For a lifetime of extraordinary contribution to contemporary Persian poetry inspired by a deep love of truth.

The first female recipient of Farhang’s Heritage Award was Simin Behbahani, who was recognized by the foundation in 2011, during the 3rd Annual Nowruz Celebration at LACMA. The legendary poet is known, among other achievements, for her ghazals (sonnet-like poems), which are considered a hallmark of modern Persian literature due to their subject matter and innovative use of meter and everyday language. Her poetry, often inspired by the plight of those on the margins of society, touches on themes such as poverty, corruption, freedom of expression, and human rights. She is credited with broadening the range of traditional Persian verse and with producing one of the most influential collections of works in twentieth century Persian literature. Ms. Behbahani was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1997.

Unable to leave Iran to attend the ceremony in-person, Ms. Behbahani’s pre-recorded acceptance speech was broadcast at the LACMA’s Bing Theater before a live audience. She had also written a poem entitled, “I'm So in Love”, just for this special occasion, which was recited during the award ceremony by author and award-winning journalist, Homa Sarshar in Persian, followed by its English translation by theatre artist and renowned translator, Niloufar Talebi. 


Richard Nelson FryeProfessor Richard Nelson Frye – In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the study of Iranian history and civilization.

In 2010 we had the honor of recognizing the achievements of two scholars, each of whom have left an indelible mark in academia. Appropriately referred to as “dean of the world’s Iranists” by other scholars, Dr. Richard Nelson Frye of Harvard University has researched and taught the cultural history of Iran, Central Asia and the Near East for over six decades and needs little introduction to those familiar with the field. His work has covered the spectrum of Iranian studies and the history of Iran and related cultures across the centuries. Early in his career, the editor and compiler of the monumental, encyclopedic Persian dictionary, Dehkhoda, gave him the honorific Irandoost, or Iranophile, which has since adorned the doorway to his office at Harvard. Dr. Frye was Director of the Asia Institute in Shiraz for five years, as successor to Arthur Upham Pope, editor of Survey of Persian Art. He has lectured in Persian in recent years in universities in Tehran and Isfahan, advocating the separation of religion and state and expounding the underlying historical basis for this separation from the foundation of the Iranian state, ca. 550 BC, to the present. Dr. Frye received his PhD in history and philology from Harvard in 1946 and joined the Harvard faculty in 1948 and later became Agha Khan Professor of Iranian Studies.


Amin BananiProfessor Amin Banani – In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the study of Persian language and literature

Dr. Amin Banani is Emeritus Professor of History and Persian Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a former Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and a former Acting Director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies. He received his BA (1947) and PhD (1959) from Stanford University and his MA (1949) from Columbia University. Professor Banani has served on the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, the Executive Council of the Society for Iranian Studies, and as Vice President of the American Association of Iranian Studies. He combines history and poetry in his research and teaching. He is an avid devotee of music, Eastern and Western.


Ehsan YarshaterProfessor Ehsan Yarshater – Recognized for his tremendous contributions to the study of Iranian civilization and the creation of the Encyclopaedia Iranica, a record of Persian heritage.

On March 14, 2009, during our very first Nowruz event at LACMA, we recognized the contributions of Professor Ehsan Yarshater, director of the Center for Iranian Studies and Hagop Kevorkian Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Columbia University. Renowned as the creator and editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica, a work thirty years in the making that is chronicling and preserving Persian heritage, Dr. Yarshater has authored numerous scholarly works. Among others he has authored Persian Poetry in the Second Half of the 15th Century (1953), Southern Tati Dialects (1970), and has edited the third volume of Cambridge History of Iran, in two parts, covering the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods (1983,1986), and Persian Literature (1988). He is the General Editor of the 40-volume Tabari Translation Project, and the founding editor of the Persian Text Series, the Persian Heritage Series and the Persian Studies Series. Lecture series in his name have been instituted at Harvard, the University of London, and the University of California at Los Angeles.