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Freedom Sculpture Unveiled
A gift to the city of Santa Monica, Calif. from the Farhang Foundation


The Freedom Sculpture by Cecil Balmond installed on Santa Monica Boulevard at Century Park East in Los Angeles is a stainless steel representation of the Cyrus Cylinder. The straight-lined patterns of the 15' high, 20' long cylinder within a cylinder represent the Akkadian cuneiform script of the original Cyrus Cylinder, while the gold color of the internal cylinder symbolizes its humanitarian message. There are LEDs in the half-circle trusses and in the base.


The Cyrus Cylinder, some 2500 years old, is a clay testament to King Cyrus of Persia and his benevolent leadership in conquering Babylonia in 539 B.C. British archeologist uncovered the cylinder in 1879. Its ancient message is considered the first declaration of human rights.
Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0. Author: Prioryman, May 26, 2012.

A closed off section of Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East in Los Angeles, became the backdrop for the inaugural L.A. Freedom Festival, a July 4th celebration of diversity and unity that featured fireworks, Iranian and other international food offerings, pop musical acts and celebrity speakers.

During the celebrations, The Freedom Sculpture was unveiled, a gift to the city of the Farhang Foundation. The foundation, which held an international sculpture competition to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture, garnered more than 300 submissions. The jury selected the design of Cecil Balmond, a Sri Lankan born and British educated engineer turned designer, artist and writer.

The sculpture, now a permanent fixture on Santa Monica Boulevard, is a symbol of respecting cultural and religious diversity promulgated by Cyrus the Great, the king of the Persian Empire.

The Cyrus Cylinder is a written (cuneiform script) declaration on baked clay from 539 B.C. It tells the story of King Cyrus the Great of Persia conquering Babylonia. Cyrus created an empire covering an area that today we call the Middle East. Cyrus reigned over this multinational, multicultural empire that would later be shattered by Alexander the Great. The cylinder text describes how the Babylonians were displaced people under slavery until Cyrus freed, repatriated and allowed them to restore their temples and altars. It portrays Cyrus as chosen by the Babylonian god Marduk to restore peace and order in Babylonia, and as a benefactor to the conquered region.

Since November 2016 over a million people from over 50 countries have donated money for the sculpture, helping raise over $2.2 million dollars.

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December 14, 2019, 7:46 am PDT

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