Iranians are great music lovers and during the course of their twenty-five centuries of their recorded history, they have developed not only a very distinctive music of their own but also numerous musical instruments, several of which were the first prototypes of the modern musical instruments of today.
The first references to musicians in Iran are found in Susa, Elam, in the 27th century BC. The earliest representation of instruments is on the Elamite relief of Kul-e Ferawn. An engraved bronze cup from Lurestan at the National Museum of Iran, Tehran, portrays a double nay (reed pipes), chang (harp) and dayereh (tambourine) in a shrine or court processional, as similarly documented in Egypt, Elam, and Babylonia where music involved the utilization of large orchestral ensembles. The Assurbanipal reliefs (626 BC) in the British Museum show Susan musicians. Other relief sculpture and paintings still extant from early periods depict instruments as they are today, except that some, like the harp seen on the Taq-e Bostan reliefs near Kermanshah, have gone out of use.
Music continued to play an important role in the lives of the Persians throughout their history, with its continuity well documented in the Safavid frescoes of the Chehel Sutun in Isfahan, dated 1647 AD. A major revival in Persian music has its inception late in the reign of Nasser od-Din Shah (died in 1896 AD), who commanded the establishment of the House of Crafts, a center where all important craftsmen could be gathered for making and marketing their instruments.