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The Photography of the Naseri Harem (Part 1)

Naser al-Din Shah and His Collaborators Inside the Royal Harem

Details of some of a handful of photographic portraits of Naser al-Din Shah that can be confirmed to be the work of the king himself. The king took these self-portraits between 1865 and 1867 (details of Figures 36, 29 left, and 31 right).

Pedram Khosronejad


This is the first installment of a two-part essay. The second part will be published here on Mizan in two weeks.

All of the images below are part of a set of photographs of the Naseri harem featured in the new publication Royal Lens: Naser al-Din Shah’s Photography of his Harem.

To see a full listing of the set with detailed captions, click here.


Introduction

In this essay, photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem from 1858-1878 and 1885-1896 (many taken by the king himself) are used not only for data gathering and visual analysis, but also to trace possible visual systems created by the king and his collaborators.1 I seek to understand the significance of these series of photographs in the telling of hidden histories or untold stories of people of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem.

Recognizing the photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem as material culture is a way to address many blind spots in the field, and suggests that any methodological use of them requires a more complex and subtle approach. Therefore, by using a pluridisciplinary research method (combining archival research, visual historiography, and material culture studies), my hope is to encapsulate the complex orders of Naser al-Din Shah’s harem photography to show how he used photography to record his private household (andaroun) according to the best practice of his time and also his special artistic talents.

The Issue of the Sources

The phenomenon of photography during the Qajar period is quite a recent research topic. For the last fifty years, no one except Yahya Zoka (d. 2001) has enjoyed full access to the Golestan Palace Qajar photo albums and related documents.2 Most students of the field have no choice but to satisfy themselves with the minimum cooperation of this governmental institution.3 The remainder of the related visual materials and documents are dispersed among other Iranian institutions and private collections inside and outside Iran.

A photograph of Naser al-Din’s royal harem taken by the king at the Niyavaran Complex, Tehran, dated to September 1878 (Figure 34, right).

Therefore, no one is in a position to say anything with certainty about any aspect of Qajar photography until adequate materials and sufficient historical documents become available, especially concerning one of the most inaccessible topics, the photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem. Most of the literature and work on photography of Naser al-Din Shah’s harem has been written according to the personal diaries of Qajar court members and elites, especially ladies at the court, foreigners who visited the royal court, and also official reports and chronicles of the time.

Certainly, these researches capture many accurate aspects of life in the royal harem: rivalry, competition, and occasional fights among different groups of consorts and their people, celebrations, ceremonies, and amusements. Few if any of these previous researchers have used the rare photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem as a starting point for their research; in the majority of cases, such photographs are used merely for illustrating the texts. And when we turn to the research conducted by scholars working on different aspects of Qajar photography, only two or three scholars in Iran have worked on some aspects of photography inside Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem; their work remains the primary written resource for other researchers like myself who wish to work on this topic.4

Naser al-Din Shah and Photography

As students of the field argue, the first camera probably arrived in Iran only three years after the creation of the first Daguerreotype in France in 1839. Jules Richard (d. 1891) was one of the first foreign photographers to be invited to the Qajar court; he took the first Daguerreotype photograph of Naser al-Din Mirza (d. 1896), the thirteen-year-old prince and future king of Iran. This is perhaps how our young prince was attracted by this magic box for the first time.

Naser al-Din Shah began his reign on September 5, 1848 when he was seventeen years old. We are unaware of any photograph attributed to him as the photographer before 1858. However, the existence of several photographs and photographic manuals inside Naser al-Din Shah’s court dating back to the 1850s may lead us to think that between 1848 and 1858 some photographers practiced this art inside the king’s court, and obviously he could have developed his knowledge and training during this period. Yet of course again there are no official documents to confirm the fact that Naser al-Din Shah was trained in this or other arts under the supervision of such masters as Jules Richard.

Some examples of photographic self-portraits of Naser al-Din Shah featuring notes confirming the shah as the author of the photographs in his own handwriting, all taken in 1867 (Figures 28 left; 29 right; 30 right; 31 left).

With the arrival of Francis Carlhian (d. 1870), the French photographer to Naser al-Din Shah’s court in 1858 by the order of the king, the first ever royal photography studio was created inside the court. Certainly one can imagine that this provided a unique opportunity for the twenty-seven-year-old king to learn better and develop his knowledge of photography. From this date until the end of his life, Naser al-Din Shah had the opportunity to meet different foreign photographers who worked for his court, to learn different techniques of photography from them, and also to develop his knowledge regarding newly-arrived cameras. In support of this theory, I found several handwritten notes by Naser al-Din Shah on the photographs that he took of the royal harem, in which he confirmed that he was trying new photographic techniques for the first time or indeed that he was using a new camera to see how it worked (Figure 33 right, 34 right).5

Also, it should not be forgotten that during his life Naser al-Din Shah traveled to Europe three times (1873, 1878, 1889), and during each trip he met several eminent photographers such as Gaspar Felix Tournachon, the French photographer known as Nadar (d. 1910), who took several portraits of the Shah.6 The king could certainly have had many professional discussions and enquiries with Nadar and other photographers, and could also have developed his photographic knowledge by visiting their studios.

The King’s Collaborators Inside the Royal Harem

Based on the captions of the photographs taken by Naser al-Din Shah, one may suppose that he practiced photography for a period of some twenty years, between 1858 and 1878. Between 1878 and 1885, for a period of seven years, he ceased his photographic activities, before again taking it up again in 1885, perhaps until the end of his life in 1896. In one of his photo captions, the king states:

“It is about seven years since we stopped practicing photography, until in August 1885 again we began our practice in Shahrestanak.7 [Again] we made these photographs and with the help of God (inshaallah) from today, we will continue. I took these photographs in Shahrestanak.”8

There are only a limited number of photographs that we can attribute to Naser al-Din Shah on which the king has confirmed that he was the author of such photographs in his own handwriting (Figures 28-31; see also Figure 36). According to these handwritten notes, it can also be confirmed that most of these photographs were taken inside his royal harems.9 They include the king’s self-portraits as well as photographs of his mother, his wives and their children, servants, slaves, and other people of his harem.10 These rare photographs of the Naseri court from 1848 to 1896 prove that Naser al-Din Shah also practiced photography outside his court and during his travels (Figure 20 right).

Mohammad Khan Kangarlou’s household, photographed by Naser al-Din Shah during a journey, 1858 (Figure 20 right).

Generally speaking, students of Qajar photography have suggested that although taking photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem, especially his consorts, was the monopoly of the king himself, from time to time others such as his brother-in-law Jafar Qoli Khan Nayer al-Molk (d. 1915), Mouchoul Khan (one of the boy servants of the royal harem [gholambachcheh], d. 1905), or Aziz Khan Khajeh (one of his eunuchs) may have assisted him.

This hypothesis is based largely on some court reports and on Zoka’s work (1997), but no official proof for this exists until this day. I have studied more than 400 photographs of the royal harem, and could not find any photographs in which either the presence of the above-mentioned names or the handwritten annotations of the king confirmed such collaboration.

Based on my recent visual analyses and archival researches, I would like to suggest that besides Naser al-Din Shah, other harem members were indeed involved in the process of taking photographs, developing and also printing them for the king, but not those individuals usually indicated by Qajar reports or other scholars.

With special care and attention, Naser al-Din Shah also wrote captions for royal harem photographs in which he provides the names of the three other harem members who took those photos. It was only after long visual investigations, comparing hundreds of photographs and analyzing the handwritten notes of Naser al-Din Shah, that I could arrive at this conclusion.

Two photographs taken by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, a eunuch courtier of Naser al-Din Shah. (L) Haji Ebrahim Khajeh (right) with Agha Mohammad Khajeh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. (R) Royal consorts, servants, and eunuchs accompanying the blind mollah Sheykh Asadollah inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Both photographs by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, 1860s (Figure 23).

The names that I found belong to the eunuchs of the royal harem, including both Africans and white men; to this day, the names of these people have not been found in any reports of Naser al-Din Shah’s court or the royal harem with regard to photography.

The name mentioned most often in the captions written by the king on photographs of the royal harem taken between 1860 and 1879 is that of Haji Ebrahim Khajeh (Figure 23); I have been unable to find textual or visual records about him outside of these dates. He was one of the white eunuchs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem who also had special physical attributes—he was a dwarf. He appears in more than ten photographs of the royal harem, albeit primarily among a group of women belonging to the household of Anis al-Dowleh (d. 1896), the most important consort of the king. In most of these photographs, Haji Ebrahim appears with a younger boy sitting beside him who, according to Naser al-Din Shah’s handwritten notes, was his brother, Azizollah (Figure 23 right). The way the king mentions his name beside the photographs—”on the same date by Haji Ebrahim”—confirms that Haji Ebrahim should be identified as the author of those pictures (Figure 22).

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

In Naser al-Din Shah’s annotations on two other photographs of the royal harem I also found the name of two African eunuchs whom I think were the photographers of those pictures; again, this is my own interpretation according to my detailed analysis of the king’s handwriting and formulation of his system of photo captioning.

One of them, Agha Faraj, took a portrait photograph of Naser al-Din Shah (Figure 24), while the other, Agha Soleyman, took a close-up portrait of another eunuch of the royal harem (Figure 25), Agha Fathollah. While there are no dates on these two photographs, as they are situated in the same album as those of Haji Ebrahim, I think these two photographs were likely taken during the same years inside the royal harem. 11

Part 2 of this essay will be published here on Mizan in two weeks.

 

PEDRAM KHOSRONEJAD is Farzaneh Family Scholar and Associate Director of the Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies Program (IPGS) at the Oklahoma State University. He obtained his Ph.D. at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. His research interests include cultural and social anthropology, the anthropology of death and dying, visual anthropology, visual piety, devotional artifacts, and religious material culture, with a particular interest in Iran, Persianate societies, and the Islamic world. He is chief editor of the journal Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia (ACME).

 

  1. I first presented this research as a presentation entitled “Royal Lens: Nasser al-Din Shah and the People of his Harem,” organized by J. Afary and M. Eskandari-Qajar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on October 19, 2017. I am deeply grateful to all friends, colleagues, and students who have been assisting me in the collection of photographs related to this research project from different Iranian organizations. As a researcher living outside the country, gaining access to many of these photographs would certainly have been impossible without their help. For ethical reasons I shall not name them here. 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. 2, 2018), a photo-catalogue which will be available to purchase at the 12th Biennial Conference of Iranian Studies to be held at the University of California, Irvine (August 14-17, 2018).
  2. For more information on this topic, see Alireza Nabipour and Reza Sheykh, “The Photograph Albums of the Royal Golestan Palace: A Window into the Social History of Iran during the Qajar Era,” in Markus Ritteer and Staci Scheiwiller (eds.), The Indigenous Lens? Early Photography in the Near and Middle East (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), 291-324.
  3. For more information regarding the difficulties of working in governmental photo archives in Iran, see Pedram Khosronejad, “In the Absence of Fieldwork,” in Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia 4 (2016): 56-67.
  4. Khadijeh Mohammadi Nameghi, “Visual Representations of Women in Photographs of Late 19th-Century Iran” (M.A. thesis, University of Tehran, 2008); Khadijeh Mohammadi Nameghi and Mohammad Sattari, “New Documents about the Royal Harem Studio,” Fine Art 36 (2009): 77-85; and Sara Torabi, “Content of Photographs of Women in the Qajar Royal Harem Based on Bourdieu’s Theory” (M.A. thesis, Azad University, 2016) [in Persian].
  5. He certainly also had communications and discussions with the Iranian photographers of his court, especially Agha Reza, regarding photographic techniques, the development of negatives, and the printing of the photographs. For more information on this topic, see Mahdokht Abolfathi, History of Photography during the Naseri Period (Tehran: Nashr-e Elm, 2016) [in Persian].
  6. For more information on this topic, see Naser al-Din Shah, Naser al-Din Shah’s Memory of his First European Journey, ed. F. Ghaziha (Tehran: Iranian National Archive, 1999), 225; Mohammad Sattari, “Nadar, Genius Photographer of the 19th Century,” in Visual Art 25 (2007):17 [in Persian].
  7. One of the royal summer residences near Tehran.
  8. Translation by the author.
  9. The main harem of Golestan Palace, Niyavaran and Saltanatabad in Tehran, and Jajeroud and also Shahrestanak outside Tehran.
  10. Between January 28 and May 13, 1865, the king began a photographic project in which he took images of the people of his harem, including himself, his mother, his wives, his children (daughters and sons), African and white eunuchs, boy servants (gholambachcheh) and female foreigners who lived inside his harem. This album (Golestan Palace no. 362) is unique among the entire photographic project of Naser al-Din Shah and should be considered as a visual diary.
  11. In my visual surveys, I also found interesting photographs of the boy Aziz al-Soltan Malijak with his camera while he was photographing people of Naser al-Din Shah’s harem during his own engagement ceremony (Figure 27). He may also have been active as a photographer or assistant to the king during his life inside the royal harem.

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The Photography of the Naseri Harem (Part 1)

Naser al-Din Shah and His Collaborators Inside the Royal Harem


Pedram Khosronejad


This is the first installment of a two-part essay. The second part will be published here on Mizan in two weeks.

All of the images below are part of a set of photographs of the Naseri harem featured in the new publication Royal Lens: Naser al-Din Shah’s Photography of his Harem.

To see a full listing of the set with detailed captions, click here.


Introduction

In this essay, photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem from 1858-1878 and 1885-1896 (many taken by the king himself) are used not only for data gathering and visual analysis, but also to trace possible visual systems created by the king and his collaborators.1 I seek to understand the significance of these series of photographs in the telling of hidden histories or untold stories of people of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem.

Recognizing the photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem as material culture is a way to address many blind spots in the field, and suggests that any methodological use of them requires a more complex and subtle approach. Therefore, by using a pluridisciplinary research method (combining archival research, visual historiography, and material culture studies), my hope is to encapsulate the complex orders of Naser al-Din Shah’s harem photography to show how he used photography to record his private household (andaroun) according to the best practice of his time and also his special artistic talents.

The Issue of the Sources

The phenomenon of photography during the Qajar period is quite a recent research topic. For the last fifty years, no one except Yahya Zoka (d. 2001) has enjoyed full access to the Golestan Palace Qajar photo albums and related documents.2 Most students of the field have no choice but to satisfy themselves with the minimum cooperation of this governmental institution.3 The remainder of the related visual materials and documents are dispersed among other Iranian institutions and private collections inside and outside Iran.

A photograph of Naser al-Din’s royal harem taken by the king at the Niyavaran Complex, Tehran, dated to September 1878 (Figure 34, right).

Therefore, no one is in a position to say anything with certainty about any aspect of Qajar photography until adequate materials and sufficient historical documents become available, especially concerning one of the most inaccessible topics, the photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem. Most of the literature and work on photography of Naser al-Din Shah’s harem has been written according to the personal diaries of Qajar court members and elites, especially ladies at the court, foreigners who visited the royal court, and also official reports and chronicles of the time.

Certainly, these researches capture many accurate aspects of life in the royal harem: rivalry, competition, and occasional fights among different groups of consorts and their people, celebrations, ceremonies, and amusements. Few if any of these previous researchers have used the rare photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem as a starting point for their research; in the majority of cases, such photographs are used merely for illustrating the texts. And when we turn to the research conducted by scholars working on different aspects of Qajar photography, only two or three scholars in Iran have worked on some aspects of photography inside Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem; their work remains the primary written resource for other researchers like myself who wish to work on this topic.4

Naser al-Din Shah and Photography

As students of the field argue, the first camera probably arrived in Iran only three years after the creation of the first Daguerreotype in France in 1839. Jules Richard (d. 1891) was one of the first foreign photographers to be invited to the Qajar court; he took the first Daguerreotype photograph of Naser al-Din Mirza (d. 1896), the thirteen-year-old prince and future king of Iran. This is perhaps how our young prince was attracted by this magic box for the first time.

Naser al-Din Shah began his reign on September 5, 1848 when he was seventeen years old. We are unaware of any photograph attributed to him as the photographer before 1858. However, the existence of several photographs and photographic manuals inside Naser al-Din Shah’s court dating back to the 1850s may lead us to think that between 1848 and 1858 some photographers practiced this art inside the king’s court, and obviously he could have developed his knowledge and training during this period. Yet of course again there are no official documents to confirm the fact that Naser al-Din Shah was trained in this or other arts under the supervision of such masters as Jules Richard.

Some examples of photographic self-portraits of Naser al-Din Shah featuring notes confirming the shah as the author of the photographs in his own handwriting, all taken in 1867 (Figures 28 left; 29 right; 30 right; 31 left).

With the arrival of Francis Carlhian (d. 1870), the French photographer to Naser al-Din Shah’s court in 1858 by the order of the king, the first ever royal photography studio was created inside the court. Certainly one can imagine that this provided a unique opportunity for the twenty-seven-year-old king to learn better and develop his knowledge of photography. From this date until the end of his life, Naser al-Din Shah had the opportunity to meet different foreign photographers who worked for his court, to learn different techniques of photography from them, and also to develop his knowledge regarding newly-arrived cameras. In support of this theory, I found several handwritten notes by Naser al-Din Shah on the photographs that he took of the royal harem, in which he confirmed that he was trying new photographic techniques for the first time or indeed that he was using a new camera to see how it worked (Figure 33 right, 34 right).5

Also, it should not be forgotten that during his life Naser al-Din Shah traveled to Europe three times (1873, 1878, 1889), and during each trip he met several eminent photographers such as Gaspar Felix Tournachon, the French photographer known as Nadar (d. 1910), who took several portraits of the Shah.6 The king could certainly have had many professional discussions and enquiries with Nadar and other photographers, and could also have developed his photographic knowledge by visiting their studios.

The King’s Collaborators Inside the Royal Harem

Based on the captions of the photographs taken by Naser al-Din Shah, one may suppose that he practiced photography for a period of some twenty years, between 1858 and 1878. Between 1878 and 1885, for a period of seven years, he ceased his photographic activities, before again taking it up again in 1885, perhaps until the end of his life in 1896. In one of his photo captions, the king states:

“It is about seven years since we stopped practicing photography, until in August 1885 again we began our practice in Shahrestanak.7 [Again] we made these photographs and with the help of God (inshaallah) from today, we will continue. I took these photographs in Shahrestanak.”8

There are only a limited number of photographs that we can attribute to Naser al-Din Shah on which the king has confirmed that he was the author of such photographs in his own handwriting (Figures 28-31; see also Figure 36). According to these handwritten notes, it can also be confirmed that most of these photographs were taken inside his royal harems.9 They include the king’s self-portraits as well as photographs of his mother, his wives and their children, servants, slaves, and other people of his harem.10 These rare photographs of the Naseri court from 1848 to 1896 prove that Naser al-Din Shah also practiced photography outside his court and during his travels (Figure 20 right).

Mohammad Khan Kangarlou’s household, photographed by Naser al-Din Shah during a journey, 1858 (Figure 20 right).

Generally speaking, students of Qajar photography have suggested that although taking photographs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem, especially his consorts, was the monopoly of the king himself, from time to time others such as his brother-in-law Jafar Qoli Khan Nayer al-Molk (d. 1915), Mouchoul Khan (one of the boy servants of the royal harem [gholambachcheh], d. 1905), or Aziz Khan Khajeh (one of his eunuchs) may have assisted him.

This hypothesis is based largely on some court reports and on Zoka’s work (1997), but no official proof for this exists until this day. I have studied more than 400 photographs of the royal harem, and could not find any photographs in which either the presence of the above-mentioned names or the handwritten annotations of the king confirmed such collaboration.

Based on my recent visual analyses and archival researches, I would like to suggest that besides Naser al-Din Shah, other harem members were indeed involved in the process of taking photographs, developing and also printing them for the king, but not those individuals usually indicated by Qajar reports or other scholars.

With special care and attention, Naser al-Din Shah also wrote captions for royal harem photographs in which he provides the names of the three other harem members who took those photos. It was only after long visual investigations, comparing hundreds of photographs and analyzing the handwritten notes of Naser al-Din Shah, that I could arrive at this conclusion.

Two photographs taken by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, a eunuch courtier of Naser al-Din Shah. (L) Haji Ebrahim Khajeh (right) with Agha Mohammad Khajeh inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. (R) Royal consorts, servants, and eunuchs accompanying the blind mollah Sheykh Asadollah inside the royal harem, Golestan Complex, Tehran. Both photographs by Haji Ebrahim Khajeh, 1860s (Figure 23).

The names that I found belong to the eunuchs of the royal harem, including both Africans and white men; to this day, the names of these people have not been found in any reports of Naser al-Din Shah’s court or the royal harem with regard to photography.

The name mentioned most often in the captions written by the king on photographs of the royal harem taken between 1860 and 1879 is that of Haji Ebrahim Khajeh (Figure 23); I have been unable to find textual or visual records about him outside of these dates. He was one of the white eunuchs of Naser al-Din Shah’s royal harem who also had special physical attributes—he was a dwarf. He appears in more than ten photographs of the royal harem, albeit primarily among a group of women belonging to the household of Anis al-Dowleh (d. 1896), the most important consort of the king. In most of these photographs, Haji Ebrahim appears with a younger boy sitting beside him who, according to Naser al-Din Shah’s handwritten notes, was his brother, Azizollah (Figure 23 right). The way the king mentions his name beside the photographs—”on the same date by Haji Ebrahim”—confirms that Haji Ebrahim should be identified as the author of those pictures (Figure 22).

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

In Naser al-Din Shah’s annotations on two other photographs of the royal harem I also found the name of two African eunuchs whom I think were the photographers of those pictures; again, this is my own interpretation according to my detailed analysis of the king’s handwriting and formulation of his system of photo captioning.

One of them, Agha Faraj, took a portrait photograph of Naser al-Din Shah (Figure 24), while the other, Agha Soleyman, took a close-up portrait of another eunuch of the royal harem (Figure 25), Agha Fathollah. While there are no dates on these two photographs, as they are situated in the same album as those of Haji Ebrahim, I think these two photographs were likely taken during the same years inside the royal harem. 11

Part 2 of this essay will be published here on Mizan in two weeks.

 

PEDRAM KHOSRONEJAD is Farzaneh Family Scholar and Associate Director of the Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies Program (IPGS) at the Oklahoma State University. He obtained his Ph.D. at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. His research interests include cultural and social anthropology, the anthropology of death and dying, visual anthropology, visual piety, devotional artifacts, and religious material culture, with a particular interest in Iran, Persianate societies, and the Islamic world. He is chief editor of the journal Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia (ACME).

 

  1. I first presented this research as a presentation entitled “Royal Lens: Nasser al-Din Shah and the People of his Harem,” organized by J. Afary and M. Eskandari-Qajar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on October 19, 2017. I am deeply grateful to all friends, colleagues, and students who have been assisting me in the collection of photographs related to this research project from different Iranian organizations. As a researcher living outside the country, gaining access to many of these photographs would certainly have been impossible without their help. For ethical reasons I shall not name them here. 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. 2, 2018), a photo-catalogue which will be available to purchase at the 12th Biennial Conference of Iranian Studies to be held at the University of California, Irvine (August 14-17, 2018).
  2. For more information on this topic, see Alireza Nabipour and Reza Sheykh, “The Photograph Albums of the Royal Golestan Palace: A Window into the Social History of Iran during the Qajar Era,” in Markus Ritteer and Staci Scheiwiller (eds.), The Indigenous Lens? Early Photography in the Near and Middle East (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), 291-324.
  3. For more information regarding the difficulties of working in governmental photo archives in Iran, see Pedram Khosronejad, “In the Absence of Fieldwork,” in Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia 4 (2016): 56-67.
  4. Khadijeh Mohammadi Nameghi, “Visual Representations of Women in Photographs of Late 19th-Century Iran” (M.A. thesis, University of Tehran, 2008); Khadijeh Mohammadi Nameghi and Mohammad Sattari, “New Documents about the Royal Harem Studio,” Fine Art 36 (2009): 77-85; and Sara Torabi, “Content of Photographs of Women in the Qajar Royal Harem Based on Bourdieu’s Theory” (M.A. thesis, Azad University, 2016) [in Persian].
  5. He certainly also had communications and discussions with the Iranian photographers of his court, especially Agha Reza, regarding photographic techniques, the development of negatives, and the printing of the photographs. For more information on this topic, see Mahdokht Abolfathi, History of Photography during the Naseri Period (Tehran: Nashr-e Elm, 2016) [in Persian].
  6. For more information on this topic, see Naser al-Din Shah, Naser al-Din Shah’s Memory of his First European Journey, ed. F. Ghaziha (Tehran: Iranian National Archive, 1999), 225; Mohammad Sattari, “Nadar, Genius Photographer of the 19th Century,” in Visual Art 25 (2007):17 [in Persian].
  7. One of the royal summer residences near Tehran.
  8. Translation by the author.
  9. The main harem of Golestan Palace, Niyavaran and Saltanatabad in Tehran, and Jajeroud and also Shahrestanak outside Tehran.
  10. Between January 28 and May 13, 1865, the king began a photographic project in which he took images of the people of his harem, including himself, his mother, his wives, his children (daughters and sons), African and white eunuchs, boy servants (gholambachcheh) and female foreigners who lived inside his harem. This album (Golestan Palace no. 362) is unique among the entire photographic project of Naser al-Din Shah and should be considered as a visual diary.
  11. In my visual surveys, I also found interesting photographs of the boy Aziz al-Soltan Malijak with his camera while he was photographing people of Naser al-Din Shah’s harem during his own engagement ceremony (Figure 27). He may also have been active as a photographer or assistant to the king during his life inside the royal harem.

The Photography of the Naseri Harem (Part 1)

Naser al-Din Shah and His Collaborators Inside the Royal Harem

The Photography of the Naseri Harem (Part 1)

Naser al-Din Shah and His Collaborators Inside the Royal Harem