The shift in Iranian connections to a wider world had cultural dimensions. From elite Iranians who might adopt European luxury goods or fashions, to craftsmen depicting pianos and western armaments in tile designs, or merchants adapting to foreign competition, new concepts and images entered Iranian cultures. Telegraph offices became a focus for political protest as well as useful to commerce and government, just as long-distance traders could bring illicit political publications from Bombay or Istanbul in their caravans. European material influence and challenges stimulated cultural innovation and debate as well as political arguments about Iranian rulers’ duty to protect Iranian interests. Officials, traders, intellectuals and migrant workers in cities of the Ottoman and Tsarist empires, and Iranians who maintained historic links to the Caucasus area, encountered new approaches to politics, education, law and religion. The political impact of these contacts will be discussed later, but cross-regional and global linkages were also features of cultural experience. This compressed account provides a basis for examining the role of religion, which took three main forms. There were relationships between religious specialists and institutions and various Iranian communities and hierarchies. There were powerful contributions made to community life and power relations by the religious activity and organisation of ordinary believers. There were also verbal, visual and ritual expressions of religious influence and traditions, transmitting them among individuals, communities and generations. These cultural resources gave a religious flavour to many expressions of identity, community and hierarchy (Source: Religion, culture and politics in Iran: from the Qajars to Imam Khomeini).