Iran's leading artist Parviz Tanavoli makes nightingale medallions to help hospitals in his native country

The artist says Iran has been “devastated” by the crisis, which he adds has been exacerbated by US sanctions

Parviz Tanavoli's medallion, which he is selling to help hospitals in Iran during the coronavirus pandemic

Renowned artist Parviz Tanavoli, known as the father of modern Iranian sculpture, has created a series of limited-edition medallions to raise funds for beleaguered hospitals in his homeland.

“I am extremely impressed by how Iranian healthcare workers are dealing with the Covid-19 crisis,” says Tanavoli, who lives in West Vancouver. “And what they are accomplishing with the bare minimum of equipment”. Iran has been “devastated” by the crisis, he says, due to harsh sanctions imposed by the US as well as plunging oil revenues.

“I wanted to show my appreciation as an Iranian—not just as an artist,” explains Tanavoli. He was first inspired to create the design for the medallion—a nightingale singing on the palm of a hand and a cypress tree on the flip side—at the end of March. He sent the design to expert craftsmen in Tehran that he has worked with before, who produced molds and began casting a limited edition of 100 bronze medallions, which are on sale for $600, and 20 silver medallions, priced at $1,500 each. 

In Iranian folklore, the nightingale is a lucky bird bearing good news who “brings the message of the beloved to the lovers,” while the cypress tree is a symbol of long life, Tanavoli says. The medallions are set against a background of hundreds of vertical lines representing the Iranian people, says the artist. They each come wrapped in turquoise ribbon representing “healthy lungs”. Twenty of the medallions have sold in the past two days, mainly to members of the Iranian diaspora, who like the artist, “want to do something” to help their countrymen from afar, Tanavoli says.

Medallions can be ordered by emailing