15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Categories: Asia | History

The harem appears to the European as a kind of abode of young and beautiful women from the Arabian fairy tales "1000 and one night". Meanwhile, curious photos of the harem of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, who ruled in Iran at the end of the 19th century, destroy the established stereotypes. In our review, you can see the beauties of the harem of the Iranian ruler with your own eyes.

Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar — the fourth Shah of Iran, gained power in 1848 and ruled for 47 years. His reign was the longest in Iran's 3,000-year history.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar is the happy owner of the harem.

Historians say that for his time, Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar was well educated and was reputed to be a sybarite, so much so that he subsequently caused dissatisfaction with his entourage.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Ad-Din Shah Qajar and photographer Sevryugin before the photo shoot.

One of Shah Qajar's many passions was photography. He liked to take pictures as a child, and when he came to power, he decided to create the first official photo studio in his palace. In the 1870s, the Russian photographer Anton Sevryugin opened his studio in Tehran, who became the court photographer of the Iranian ruler. Sevryugin created a photographic chronicle of Iran and was awarded an honorary title for his services.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

The main entrance to the Gulistan Palace.

A Russian photographer could shoot the Shah himself, his male relatives, courtiers and servants. And for himself, Qajar, an ardent fan of photography, left the right to shoot his harem, in which, according to historians, he had about 100 concubines.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Completeness is the main criterion of beauty.

It is known that Nasser ed-Din Shah printed the photographs himself in the palace laboratory and kept them in satin albums in his Golestan Palace, where the museum is currently located.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

The incomparable Anis al-Doleh is the Shah's beloved wife (right).

The extraordinary nature of the photos of his concubines lies in the fact that according to Shiite laws at that time it was not permissible to take pictures of people's faces, much less the faces of women. And only the most powerful person in the country could afford to break the law.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Anis al-Doleh, or A Sincere Friend of the State.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

The incomparable Anis al-Doleh (sitting).

Photos of women challenge the generally accepted idea of life in a harem - shah's wives look quite modern for that time and confident, they calmly look into the camera lens, not flirting and not timid.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar with some women from the harem.

One can even assume that the wives in the harem had friendly relations — some photos show groups at a picnic.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

A harem on a picnic.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

The inhabitants of the harem did not suffer from thinness.

According to the photos, one can judge the tastes of the Iranian monarch — all women are in the body, with thick eyebrows fused together and a well-visible mustache. It is clearly seen that the women did not suffer from hunger and were not burdened with physical work. Experts say that there are even nude photos in the collection of Golestan, but they are safely hidden.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

A young concubine with a hookah.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

In many photos, the concubines of the harem are depicted in short fluffy skirts like ballet tutus (shaliteh). And it's no coincidence.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

It is known that in 1873, Nasser ed-Din Shah, at the invitation of Alexander II, visited St. Petersburg and attended the ballet. According to legend, he was so fascinated by Russian dancers that he introduced shaliteh for his women. However, the concubines could refuse Muslim headscarves only in front of the camera. However, it is possible that this is only a legend.

15 real photos of the Shah of Iran and his harem, in which there were almost 100 women

Ladies from the harem in ballet tutus.

Specialist comments

Boris Vasilyevich Dolgov, Senior researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Candidate of Historical Sciences, commented on the selection of photos:

"There are really women in the photo. These are not hermaphrodites and not men, as many may think today. Of course, there were also such inhabitants in harems, but they were kept secret, since the Koran did not welcome these things. And about beauty… As you know, there are no comrades for taste and color. As for vegetation— this is typical for Oriental women. However, it cannot be excluded that just the owner of the harem liked the "mustachioed" ladies. Fused eyebrows were fashionable at that time, and fullness was synonymous with beauty. The women in the harem were specially fed very tightly and were not allowed to move actively."

There is another version of who is depicted in the photographs - male actors of the first state theater, created by order of Shah Nasereddin (a great lover of European culture) at the Dar el Funun Polytechnic School in 1890, who played satirical plays only for the palace nobility. The organizer of this theater was Mirza Ali Akbar Khan Naggashbashi, who is considered one of the founders of modern Iranian theater. Since women were forbidden to perform on stage, these roles were performed by men. The first women appeared on the stage in Iran in 1917.

In 1861, Mirza Malkom Khan published three satirical plays in Istanbul: "The Adventure of Ashraf Khan, Governor of Arabistan", "Methods of Management of Zaman Khan from Borujerd" and "Shahkulimirza goes on a pilgrimage to Karbala". Mirza Malkom Khan became the founder of Iranian drama, although his plays were intended more for reading (they were never staged in the credits). In the second half of the XIX century, a play on a local theme by an unknown author "Scandal in the presence of His Majesty" appeared, close to the satirical plays of Mirza Malkom Khan.

Keywords: Harem | Women | Iran

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