Friday, 17 January, 2020

Sculpture representing ‘Cyrus Cylinder’ unveiled for Independence Day in L.A.

An art piece inspired by a historic artifact - ‘The Cyrus Cylinder’ -was unveiled during Independence Day festivities at the Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of Los Angeles.

The installation, known as ‘Freedom Sculpture’ designed by artist Cecil Balmond, traces its inspiration back 2,500 years to the Cyrus Cylinder from the Persian Empire of King Cyrus the Great.

“The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most important works to have survived from the ancient world,” said J. Paul Getty Museum director Timothy Potts in a 2013 statement.

“More than any other object from the ancient world, this declaration by King Cyrus of the return of displaced peoples in and around Babylonia to their settlements has a continuing relevance to the peoples of the Middle East and indeed throughout the world.”

After the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE, Babylon became a colony of the Achaemenid Empire. The cylinder’s text shows how King Cyrus allowed the Jewish exiles in Babylon, who had been previously uprooted and displaced by prior kings, to return back to their homes in Judah, modern day Palestine/Israel.

“Cyrus Cylinder is the first declaration of human rights, 2,500 years ago they had freedom of religion, equality for people,” says Farhad Mohit with the Farhang Foundation, the non-profit Iranian cultural organization spearheading the project.

The Freedom Sculpture began as an idea by the Farhang Foundation in late 2013. An international urban art competition seeking designs for a monument celebrating universally shared humanitarian ideals of freedom, inclusiveness and diversity began in 2014, Mohit said.

“The Freedom Sculpture is a testament to the values we hold dear and we are honored to receive it,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said before leaving on a trip to Berlin and Switzerland.

The unveiling was part of the inaugural LA Freedom Festival, a free event on a closed section of Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East billed as a celebration of diversity and unity in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian American diaspora, with over 500,000 Iranian American residents. Given Iran’s great diversity, the Iranian American diaspora is likewise heterogeneous, with Iranian Americans who are Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews, Baha’is, Christians, Armenians, Azeris, Kurds, Assyrians, among many more.

The diversity of the Iranian American community is paralleled by the diversity present in Los Angeles, widely considered one of the most diverse cities in the world. Hence, the Farhang Foundation has chosen Los Angeles as the home for this Freedom Sculpture.

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