• Qajar Photography


Many new technologies were adopted under the rule of Nasir al-Din Shah (ruled 1848 to 1896). Photography became popular in Iran during the late Qajar period and was embraced enthusiastically by Nasir al-Din Shah, who famously photographed many of the women of the Qajar palace. During the period of his rule, the interaction between photography and painting grew, both in terms of style and composition.

.Montage of portrait photographs

Ideals of feminine beauty can change greatly over time. In the Qajar period, the paragon of female beauty was embodied in a woman with a thick monobrow (abru-ye peyvasteh) and moustache. For instance, the women of the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah's imperial harem used makeup to draw moustaches and connect their eyebrows if they did not already possess these striking features. 

Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran Digital Archive

If you are intrigued by the photographs from 19th-century Iran, you should consult the comprehensive database supervised by Dr. Afsaneh Najmabadi and hosted by Harvard Library, which features not just photographs, but artefacts and objects used by women in the Qajar era in their daily lives, as well as sound recordings of interviews with women who lived in the late Qajar period.
Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran Digital Archive