The most notable Persian artwork is seen in the masterful woven carpets. Persian weaving flourished in the second half of the 15th century during the Safavid Dynasty. The cities of Ardabil, Tabriz, Kashan, and Isfahan are the chief producers of Persian carpets. The colorful displays are usually designs taken from book covers, but geography can influence the tapestries as well. In Tabriz, for instance, many of the rugs are made for prayer and contain a centralized medallion of sorts. (See Image) In the north, where horticulture is tantamount, the carpets are woven to represent Persian gardens. (See Image) Many wonder why a simple carpet can be such a high priced commodity, but even the most skilled Persian weaver can tie only 12,000 knots a day and with many carpets containing over one million knots, the hand made artistic masterpieces can take over a year to make.
Prior to the foundation of Islam in Iran, Persians are noted for the development of one of the oldest monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism. In this religion, there is one "Lord Wisdom", known as Ahura Mazda. Also important to the religion is the concept of the nature of good (Senta Mainyu) and evil (Angra Mainyu). One can see how the later monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have taken many of their teachings from this religion. Zoroastrianism, while having a small following, is still in practice today and many Iranian festivals still center around the Zoroastrian calendar. One favorite is Norooz, a celebration of the Iranian New Year taking place on the Spring Equinox.