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The Photography of the Naseri Harem: List of Figures

Click on the images to see each reproduction in high resolution. The photographs in this image collection are taken from the Farhad and Firouzeh Diba Collection of Qajar Photographs; the Leila Moayeri Family Photographs, Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies (Tehran); the Central Library of the University of Tehran; and other private collections.

All rights reserved by the author. Requests for permission to reuse or republish the images should be sent to Dr. Pedram Khosronejad (pedram.khosronejad@okstate.edu), Associate Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies at the Oklahoma State University.

The full text and information related to the photographs of this contribution will be available in Pedram Khosronejad, Royal Lens: Naser al-Din Shah’s Photography of his Harem (Visual Studies of Modern Iran, No. 3, 2018), a photo-catalogue which will be available for purchase at the 12th Biennial Conference of Iranian Studies to be held at the University of California, Irvine (August 14-17, 2018).

Figure 1
(L) Postcards of foreign prostitutes belonging to a Qajar aristocratic family during the Naseri period.
(R) A group of Naser al-Din Shah’s courtiers holding photographs of naked women, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1865. (The young boy at the top left is probably Mouchoul Khan.)

Figure 2
(L) Nude lady. Drawing by Naser al-Din Shah, 1840.
(R) Wedding ceremony inside the royal harem. Drawing by Naser al-Din Shah, 1840s.
Naser al-Din Shah was an amateur artist and had talents in drawing, watercolor painting, and calligraphy. In several of his drawings we can observe his interest in nudity and the naked bodies of women. Perhaps he also followed these desires in his works of photography.

Figure 3
(L) Aziz al-Soltan Malijak, Ali Khan Khajeh, the special eunuch of Anis al-Dowleh, with some royal servants placing a desert plant in the backside of a villager while accompanying Naser al-Din Shah to Shahrestanak, near Tehran. Photo by Ibrahim Albaghi, 1891.
(R) A group of royal jesters (moghaled), one of whom is putting his finger in his backside while accompanying Naser al-Din Shah to Shahrestanak, near Tehran. Photo by Ibrahim Albaghi, 1891.

Figure 4
(L) A group of royal jesters (moghaled) performing amusing sexual behavior while accompanying Naser al-Din Shah to the Shahrestanak royal summer residence, near Tehran. Photo by Ibrahim Albaghi, 1891.
(R) Two young servants in an intimate position with one of the young African eunuchs of the royal harem. Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s.

Figure 5
(L) A semi-naked baby boy inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1859.
(R) A naked crazy man (divaneh) in Ghouchan, Khorasan. Photo taken during one of the royal travels to Khorasan, 1863.

Figure 6
(L) Doust-Ali Khan Moayer al-Mamalek (Nezam al-Dowleh) with his wife Mah-Nesa Khanom and their son Doust-Mohammad, Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1864.
(R) Doust-Ali Khan Moayer al-Mamalek with his son Doust-Mohammad, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Agha Reza, 1865.

Figure 7
(L) Anis al-Dowleh, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo and cut by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864.
(R) Golniyaz, one of the Georgian domestic servants of Doust-Mohammad Khan Moayer’s household. Photo by Doust-Mohammad Khan Moayer, date unknown.
As mentioned in the essay, I believe that Naser al-Din Shah and some of the photographers of his court such as Mirza Ahmad and Abdollah Qajar had close relationships and debates regarding photography with Doust-Mohammad Khan Moayer and his brother Mohammad Khan Heshmat al-Mamalek. They also exchanged many photographs among themselves and these two photographs could be the result of such exchanges.

Figure 8
(L) Photographic collage of Naser al-Din Shah with a hunted mountain goat and his favorite cat, Babri Khan, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photograph and design by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.
(R) One of the king’s wives, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photograph and design by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.
Naser al-Din Shah had a special taste for and interest in working on his own photographs, creating new compositions through the use of the collage technique. In rare cases, after making his composition, he added more details by drawing directly on such artworks.

Figure 9
(L) A geisha from Kyoto. Postcard from an aristocratic Qajar family of the Naseri period. (I am deeply grateful to Dr. I. Kawase for his assistance for verification of this collection.)
(R) Shams al-Dowleh and her servant inside the royal harem. Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1871.

Figure 10
(L) Inside the royal harem. Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890s.
(R) Inside the royal harem. Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890s.

Figure 11
(L) Shahrestanak Complex, royal summer residence, near Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1890s.
(R) Shirazi Kuchikeh (the little Shirazi), one of the royal consorts inside the royal harem, Shahrestanak Complex, near Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890s.

Figure 12
(L) Mirza Ahmad Akasbashi inside Moayer’s private photographic studio, Tehran. Photo by Doust-Mohammad Khan Moayer, 1870s.
(R) Royal photographic studio on the roof of the Dar al-Fonoun, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Mirza Ahmad Akasbashi, 1879.

Figure 13
(L) Amir Qajar, one of the court photographers. Photo by Jalil al-Dowleh, 1901.
(R) Shams al-Dowleh, one of the royal consorts, in her inner section of the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1870s.

Figure 14
(L) Mirza Hassan Mostowfi al-Mamalek, royal studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Mir Seid-Ali, 1889.
(R) Left: Soltan Khanom, one of the king’s wives, inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo probably by Naser al-Din Shah, developed and printed by Mir Seid-Ali, 1890s. Right: Anis al-Dowleh with her female servants and an African eunuch. Photo probably by Naser al-Din Shah, developed and printed by Mir Seid-Ali, 1890s.

Figure 15
(L) Mouchoul Khan (first person on the right), with two other court servants. Photo by Agha Reza, 1865.
(R) Naser al-Din Shah surrounded by young boy servants (gholambachcheh), with Mouchoul Khan at the back. Photo by Abdollah Qajar, 1887.
Gholam Hoseyn, better known as Mouchoul Khan, was the son of Tuba Khanom Hamedani, Naser al-Din Shah’s nanny who worked inside Mahd Owliya’s living quarters, and Agha Khan, keeper of the king’s harem. As he was born inside the harem and his mother was also the personal nanny of Naser al-Din Shah, he had free access to the royal harem as a gholambachcheh. He knew that if he wanted to become closer to the king and consequently attract His Majesty’s attention and also obtain a prestigious court title, he should find a way to become close to the king. He knew very well how much the king loved photography and its related techniques; therefore, through his mother’s plan or his own decision, he learned photography for a period of two years under the supervision of Jafar Qoli Khan Nayer al-Molk (Hedayat), who at that time was working in the Dar al-Fonoun.

Figure 16
(L) Naser al-Din Shah with three of his consorts. Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, date unknown.
(R) Bagheri (probably one of Naser al-Din Shah’s consorts), taziyeh performance of Aziz al-Soltan Malijak inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890.

Figure 17
(L) Madame Abbass (known as Ostad Farangi Golsaz), royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865.
(R) Madame Pleau with her daughter beside Anis al-Dowleh and other royal consorts on the day of Nowrouz, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890.
Madame Abbass was a French lady who came to the royal court when she was young. She converted to Islam when she married an Iranian merchant on her way to Iran. Madame Pleau was another French lady who came to the court with her husband; they were tailors of the king’s consorts.

Figure 18
(L) Mademoiselle Blanche with royal consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1866.
(R) Mademoiselle Blanche, photographer and date unknown.
Mademoiselle Blanche was a young French lady living in Tehran as a piano teacher and enjoyed a good relationship with Naser al-Din Shah’s consorts.

Figure 19
(L) Naser al-Din Shah with a group of his ministers (vizir), Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Madame Carlhian (?), 1850s?
(R) Portrait of Naser al-Din Shah, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Madame Carlhian (?), 1850s?
One of the neglected topics regarding photography during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah is the presence of foreign female photographers in the royal court. Based on the reports of Heinrich Ferdinand Karl Brugsch, a German diplomat who lived in Iran, Francis Carlhian came to Iran with his wife, who was also a professional photographer. Brugsch states that “one day Mrs. Carlhian took a photograph of Naser al-Din Shah and his twelve minsters (vizir) inside his court. The vizirs liked their photo very much and each of them paid her ten toumans as reward” (I am grateful to W. Floor for providing me with the translation of this German text). There is also a photo-portrait of Naser al-Din Shah attributed to Mrs. Carlhian which is from a private collection belonging to the descendants of the Moayer family, who told me that in their family there is a story about how Mrs. Carlhian could gain access to the royal harem of Naser al-Din Shah to photograph his consorts. If this was the case, one can imagine that she could also have helped the king to learn photography.

Figure 20
(L) The king’s camp in Shahrestanak, near Tehran. Photo by Agha Reza, 1862.
(R) Mohammad Khan Kangarlou’s inner section (andaroun), Varamin. From left to right: Shirazi Kouchikeh, Sorour al-Salataneh, Shams al-Dowleh, Taj al-Dowleh, Galin Khanom. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1858.
These two photographs confirm the fact that Naser al-Din Shah always carried a camera with him during his travels. The right-hand photograph should be considered as one of the few photographs taken by Naser al-Din Shah during his consorts’ travels, but in the house of another member of the Qajar elite, Mohammad Khan Kangarlou.

Figure 21
(L) Anis al-Dowleh with other royal consorts and her personal eunuch Ali Khan Khajeh, Latiyan Campground, near Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1893.
(R) Anis al-Dowleh, Latiyan Campground, near Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1893.
As mentioned in the essay, during his journeys inside or outside the country, Naser al-Din Shah was always accompanied by one of the official photographers of his court. As a result, there exists a unique series of photographs of Anis al-Dowleh (one of the main consorts of the king), her bodyguards, and African eunuchs who accompanied the king during one of his journeys from Damavand to Tehran, which was held during August 1893.

Figure 22
Naser al-Din Shah, Lar royal complex, near Tehran. Photo by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, 1879.

Figure 23
(L) Agha Mohammad Khajeh (left) and Haji Ebrahim Khajeh (right) inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, 1860s.
(R) Royal consorts accompanying a blind mollah (Sheykh Asadollah), a young female servant, male servants, African eunuchs, Haji Ebrahim, and his brother Azizollah inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, 1860s.

Figure 24
(L) Agha Faraj Khajeh, one of the African eunuchs of Naser al-Din Shah, inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865.
(R) Naser al-Din Shah inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Agha Faraj Khajeh, 1865.

Figure 25
(L) Agha Soleyman Khajeh, one of the African eunuchs of Naser al-Din Shah, inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865.
(R) Agha Fatollah Khajeh, one of the white eunuchs of Naser al-Din Shah, inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Agha Soleyman Khajeh, 1865.

Figure 26
(L) Aziz Khan Khajeh with Fakhr al-Dowleh and other consorts inside the royal harem, Saltanatabad Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1891.
(R) Aziz Khan Khajeh, Shahrestanak Complex, near Tehran. Photo by Agha Reza (?), 1880s.

Figure 27
(L) Aziz al-Soltan Malijak and his camera with some dancers during his engagement ceremony inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890.
(R) Aziz al-Soltan Malijak taking a photograph of royal eunuchs during his engagement ceremony inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1890.

Figure 28
(L) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.
(R) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.

Figure 29
(L) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.
(R) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.

Figure 30
(L) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.
(R) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.

Figure 31
(L) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.
(R) Self-portrait, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867.

Figure 32
(L) Amin Aghdas with her African eunuchs, Agha Mohammad Khajeh, and servants inside her inner section of the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, March 30, 1890.
(R) Amin Aghdas’s household inside her inner section of the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, March 30th 1890.

Figure 33
(L) Inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, March 30, 1867.
(R) Inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1886.

Figure 34
(L) Naser al-Din Shah standing among his consorts during a prayer ceremony accompanied by two mollahs (Molla Mahmoud Harati and Sheykh Asadollah the blind), Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, September 1878.
(R) Royal consorts and female servants reciting the Qur’an under the tent of one of the king’s consorts, Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, September 1878.

Figure 35
(L) Anis al-Dowleh and other royal consorts during a recitation of the Qur'an accompanied by a mollah (Sheykh Asadollah), Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, September 1878.
(R) Royal consorts and their servants during Aziz al-Soltan’s taziyeh ceremony inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, date unknown.

Figure 36
Self-portrait inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865.

Figure 37
(L) Left: Anis al-Dowleh inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Right: Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photos by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864.
(R) Left: Shokouh al-Saltaneh inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Right: Shirazi Kuchikeh inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photos by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864.

Figure 38
(L) Left: Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s. Right: Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s.
(R) Left: Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s. Right: Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s.

Figure 39
(L) Left: one of the royal consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s. Right: Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s.
(R) Left: one of the royal consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo: Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s. Right: one of the royal consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1870s.

Figure 40
(L) Two consorts inside the royal harem, Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1866.
(R) Taj al-Dowleh (left) and Shams al-Dowleh (right) in a mountainous area, Shahrestanak Complex, near Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1866.

Figure 41
(L) Two consorts inside the royal harem, Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1866.
(R) Shams al-Dowleh inside the royal harem, Niyavaran Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1866.

Figure 42
Naser al-Din Shah with a group of his consorts and African eunuchs inside the Mirror Hall (talar-e ayeneh), Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1880s.

Figure 43
(L) Left: Naser al-Din Shah with Aziz al-Soltan Malijak inside the royal harem, Shahrestanak Complex, near Tehran. Photo by Hoseynali, 1886. Right: Aziz al-Soltan Malijak with his nanny inside the royal harem, Shahrestanak Complex, near Tehran. Photo by Hoseynali, 1886.
(R) Left: Anis al-Dowleh with Aziz al-Soltan Malijak inside the royal harem, Saltanatabad Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1891. Right: Anis al-Dowleh with Aziz al-Soltan Malijak inside the royal harem, Saltanatabad Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1891.

Figure 44
(L) Naser al-Din Shah inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1859.
(R) Shokouh al-Saltaneh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1859.

Figure 45
(L) Mahd Owliya (left & right), Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1863.
(R) Mahd Owliya (left & right), Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1863.

Figure 46
(L) Left: Mahd Owliya with her two African slaves, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s. Right: Mahd Owliya with her African slave Agha Salim Khajeh, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s.
(R) Top: Mahd Owliya with Naser al-Din Shah and her daughter, Malek-Nesa Khanom (Ezat al-Dowleh). Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s. Bottom: Mahd Owliya with her female servants inside her own private quarters (andaroun). Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s.

Figure 47
(L) Naser al-Din Shah with a group of consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1879.
(R) Group of consorts accompanied by African eunuchs and servant children inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1879.

Figure 48
(L) Top: Naser al-Din Shah with his consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864. Bottom: Naser al-Din Shah with his consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864.
(R) Top: Naser al-Din Shah with two of his consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864. Bottom: Naser al-Din Shah with his consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864.

Figure 49
(L) A group of royal consorts inside the royal harem, Saltanatabad Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1891.
(R) A group of royal consorts inside their private room in the royal harem, Saltanatabad Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1891.

Figure 50
(L) Noushafarin, one of the royal consorts, and the eunuch Agha Nouri Khajeh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s.
(R) One of the king’s consorts inside her own private quarters in the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1860s.

Figure 51
(L) Left: Haji Balal Khajeh, one of the African eunuchs of the royal harem inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865. Right: Haji Sarvar Khajeh, one of the African eunuchs of the royal harem inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865.
(R) Left: Agha Hasan Khajeh, one of the African eunuchs of the royal harem inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865. Right: Haji Firouz Khajeh, one of the African eunuchs of the royal harem inside the royal harem studio, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1865.

Figure 52
(L) Top: a cat belonging to Kandi, a female servant inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo: by Naser al-Din Shah, 1867. Bottom: Babri Khan, Naser al-Din Shah’s favorite cat, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Agha Reza, 1875.
(R) Badr al-Saltaneh, one of the royal consorts, with her family members and her cat inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photo by Naser al-Din Shah, 1864.
It is well-known that Naser al-Din Shah adored Babri Khan, one of the cats living inside the royal harem, and after his sudden disappearance and consequent death the king became very sad and depressed for some time.

Figure 53
(L) Naser al-Din Shah. Photographer and date unknown.
(R) A group of Naser al-Din Shah's consorts inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Photographer unknown, 1866.