Author Rudi Mathee discusses his study of Persian uses for narcotics and other more mundane stimulants throughout history. Mathee’s book “The Pursuit of Pleasure” has just been released in Iran, and Fari Bradley asks him about Sherry, Shiraz wine and stimulants and opiates in ancient Persia from coffee to opium.
Mathee focusses on the Safavid period (1501-1722) in Persia, when excessive drinking by the Shah was sanctioned by society, as he was seen as the son of Shi’i Imam and therefore exempt from the ban on alcohol. This one example embodies many of the massive paradoxes that existed during this period, and still exist as the tension between public piety and personal freedom.
Like the British, the Persians lived through entire eras of compulsive drinking, yet which were then followed by periods when imbibing became punishable with 40 -80 lashings of the whip due to Islam.
This progamme was originally broadcast from Resonancefm studios in London on July 28th 2008.