An Overview at photography and photographs of Kurdistan in the Qajar era

Shabnam Motamedi

This article is from the author's master's thesis entitled "Historical study of ethnographic photographs of Ardalan Kurdistan in the Qajar era" in the field of photography at Tehran University of Arts, under the guidance of Parvin Taei and Hussein Chananizadeh.

In this study, we intend to conduct a preliminary research on how photography enters the Ardalan Kurdistan region. During the Qajar period, Kurdistan province, under the name of Ardalan province, took its name from the powerful Ardalan family of Kurdish families living in the Middle East. Geographical and historical location of Ardalan province, the cultural and social conditions that underlie the presence of photography in the region will be considered. The obtained results can be used as an introduction to the historical study and photography process in the western regions of Iran and the history of photography in these regions.
The possibility of the presence of photographers from other regions of Iran in this region, the presence of foreign photographers as well as the classification and historical determination of photographs collected from the Ardalan Kurdistan region, their historical classification and determination of the first images taken and also the classification of images according to common photography methods in that period, are all considered in this study. At the end, special cultural and ethnic features in the images that distinguish these photos from the other photos of other parts of Iran will be considered.

Ardalan Kurdistan
During the Qajar period, Kurdistan Province of Iran, under the name of Ardalan  Province 1, took its name from the powerful Ardalan family that ruled part of the Kurdish regions of Iran for about seven hundred years. The center of their rule is the city of Seneh , the current Sanandaj and the capital of Kurdistan. This province is adjacent to Kermanshah and Hamedan provinces from the east and from the north to West Azerbaijan province and from the west to Iraq. According to written documents, the size of this province has changed in different periods due to the Shah's fear and hope for the rulers and their merit. One third of the area of this province is mountains and forests and the rest is plains and lands.
The Ardalan family had special power and influence in the region due to their kinship with the Safavid and Qajar governments. During the reign of Amanullah Khan Ardalan , in addition to the urban development of Sanandaj, as a result of the adequacy and wisdom of this ruler, peace and security ruled in the region, he made Sanandaj known as Dar al-Alam. The coexistence of different religions in this city has shown the compromise of the people of the region. At this time, following disputes between the Kurdish rulers, there were disputes with the Ottomans, and due to the inability of the central government of Iran, riots broke out against the central government in the region. After the constitutional period and the departure of the Ardalan dynasty from the page of political relations in the Kurdistan region, the Qajar princes alternated.
Unfortunately, due to its proximity to Iraq and Turkey and the political conflicts in the sensitive border region, the three countries have become involved in wars, so because of the political relations in the region, the social history of the region has been neglected.
However, in the shadow of the relative security of Amanullah Khan Ardalan's time, Sanandaj has become a place for learning science and poetry in the region. The presence of Mahsharaf Khanum Ghaderi, nicknamed Mastooreh Ardalan , historian and poet of Sanandaj at that time, has shown the cultural atmosphere of the region. The prosperity of architecture, poetry, and historiography is one of the major cultural blessings in this period.

Kurds in travelogues and picture books
Ardalan Kurdistan, due to its special geographical location and being in the path of western travelers who wanted to reach the east, has always experienced the presence of travelers and tourists who chose the tempting and mysterious east to explore further. A number of them have published memoirs and descriptions of their activities in the form of travelogues and books, and in many Western travelogues there are articles about Iranian Kurdistan and the Kurds, many of which have not been translated and reviewed. A number of people who have traveled to the Kurdistan region and some of whom have taken photos of the region are mentioned below.
Claudius-James-rich is one of the first people who mentions Kurdistan in his travelogue and describes the mansions of Sanandaj, the mansions of the government castle and even the paintings inside them that are noteworthy. He came to this region in 1820 at the same time as the rule of Amanullah Khan Ardalan. Rich's travelogue does not contain any images of the area, which is acceptable given that photography was not invented at that time.
Binder henry is a Dutch businessman who traveled to Iran and Kurdistan during the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah. Among the images designed in his travelogue, there are no images related to Kurdistan.
Isabella BIRD, who was a bold researcher and writer, traveled to Iran in the middle of the Qajar period and in 1890 and passed through western Iran and Kurdistan to reach the territory of the Ottoman Empire. She had meetings with the head of Bakhtiari tribes and their families. His travelogue does not contain any pictures of that region.
E.B. Soane is one of the most prominent people who is also a Kurdish scholar and has a strange mastery of Persian and Kurdish languages. He has written several books on the Kurdish language and culture. Soane entered the Kurdistan region in 1926 and describes the result of his adventurous journey in the book "Towards Bine Mesopotamia and Iran in disguise".  This book contains a limited number of photographs from areas other than Iranian Kurdistan, an interesting one he took of Adeleh Khanum, the wife of Osman Pasha Jaf, the head of the Jaf tribe.
But the surviving photographs of Alexander Iyas, the Russian consul who lived in Mahabad for two years, from 1912 to 1914, and photographed the Kurdish areas are undoubtedly one of the most interesting images of the Kurds. A number of these images have been compiled in the book "images from the end game" by John Chalenko. By mastering several languages, especially Kurdish, the Russian military was able to capture interesting images that, in addition to showing the situation in the Kurdish areas of Makri before the outbreak of World War I, provided researchers with a very significant source for studying the coverage of the region. In addition to military advisers and tourists, there have been experts who have come to the region for anthropological studies and to study the ethnicity of the Kurdish people living in the Middle East and the Iranian plateau; undoubtedly, the French researcher Ernest Chanter is one of them. In 1885, he traveled to the colonial-dominated regions of France in the Middle East to study the Kurdish race. The result of his research is a collection of five photo albums of Kurds from the Caucasus and Anatolia.
Susane Meselas, an American photographer with the Magnum Photo News Agency, has published a visual study of the Kurds in the Middle East in her book, Kurdistan in the Shadow of History. In this book, a well-known American photographer travels to the Kurdish regions of Iran's neighboring countries and collects images of Kurds in the region, but due to lack of access to and travel to Iranian Kurdistan, the number of images of Iran's Kurdistan in this collection is small. The purpose of the book is to study the history of the Kurds according to the existing images of them from the past to the present.
Among the internal sources that have dealt with the history of Iranian photography, there are a number of images related to the Kurdish regions. In the book "Photography and Pioneer Photographers in Iran" written by Yahya Zaka and also in the book "Treasure of Historical Photographs of Iran" written by Iraj Afshar, we come across a number of images of Kurds. But only a few of these images have the date and description of the photo.
The book "Historical Postcards of Iran" written by Qasem Safi, which examines the role of photographs in the images of postcards in Iran in the Qajar and Pahlavi periods, also contains some images in the form of postcards of Kurdish tribes in the Kurdistan region.
Among the newer books related to photography, the book "Kurds of Iran" by Nasrullah Kasraiyan is undoubtedly the first comprehensive book that has photographed the Kurdish regions of western Iran.
Seyyed Mahmoud from Naveh in his book "Kurdistan, the green jewel" has also succeeded in showing the Kurds of the western regions of Iran in a new way by depicting natural landscapes and photographing the people of the Kurdish regions together with Nasrullah Kasraiyan.

Photographers who are not native to the area but have taken photographs of the region:
In this section, we are faced with many ambiguous points. Nasser al-Din Shah sent photographers to different parts of Iran during his reign. Jules Richard (1308-1298), a Frenchman who claims to have taken the first photographs in Iran during the reign of Mohammad Shah Qajar, was sent to Kurdistan by the court for a research trip and the discovery of a mine. On January 16, 1852, he wrote from Tehran to a friend in Tabriz that your papers you had written to me arrived in Tehran when I was traveling. The government had instructed me to go to Kurdistan and research the subject of the mines there (various articles, Khalil Saghafi, 1332, 83). After receiving his first daguerreotypes from the Qajar king and crown prince. So far, no evidence has been obtained that he was photographed in the Kurdistan region. Jacques de morgan was one of the Western archaeologists who, during his archeological travels and research in Iran, also took photographs of different regions. Baneh and Saqez are defined below the seat and the cold is seventeen degrees below zero. (Tavoos Internet Quarterly 5 and 6)
But another person whose credible and acceptable evidence of photography has not been obtained in the regions is Manouchehr Khan, a photographer. His biography is in an aura of ambiguity. Among the old photographs, Yahya Zaka encounters a number of photographs from the middle and late Crown Prince Mozaffar al-Din Mirza in Tabriz with the signature of "Manouchehr Khan" whose unfortunately recipient is unknown (Zaka 1997). The calendar of 1306 AH has named Manouchehr Khan as the Crown Prince's photographer, and among the albums of Golestan Palace is a photo of a photographer named (Manouchehr), who under his photo is "Chakar Jan Nisar Manouchehr, photographer of Mirza Ahmad Kurdistan, son of the Kurdistan Lawyers' clan". Introduced is available. In another album in Golestan Palace, there is another person named Manouchehr Khan who has introduced himself as the photographer of Nasser al-Din Shah. (People's Culture of Sattari Mohammad, Salamat Houshang 36 and 35) There is no evidence of personal photography named Manouchehr Khan in Kurdistan.
Meanwhile, a person like Agha Reza Iqbal al-Saltanah, who later became the first photographer in the history of Iranian photography, came with Naser al-Din Shah during a trip to Soltanieh and Kurdistan in 1858. Francis Karlhyan (1818-1870), a Frenchman who had just been brought to Iran from France to teach photography began photographing cities along the way. 
He accompanied Naser al-Din Shah on many of his early travels, including photography in Soltanieh, Azerbaijan, and Kurdistan.
Karlhyan accompanied Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar on his journey to Kurdistan in 1858. Pictures of the dome of Sultanieh, Kurdistan, and Azerbaijan and the city of Sanandaj are available in album number 679 of the Golestan Palace House album. (Adl, 2000)
Another ruler who was appointed to rule the western regions of Iran in 1878 was Ali Khan, the governor. Ali Khan was an educated man who, in addition to learning geography, also studied photography in France. He photographed from his young ages until the end of his life, and the result of this effort in the albums dedicated to the court of Nasser al-Din Shah as well as Muzaffar al-Din Shah, which were taken from different areas under his rule, is a valuable document. His famous album, which is a picture book, contains a significant number of images of the city of Sanandaj and famous people of the city, many of which were photographed by Ali Khan Wali. The images of this book are among the valuable documents of the history of Iranian culture, including the history of its architecture and urban planning, in the second half of the Qajar period, especially in the regions of Azerbaijan and Kurdistan.
Mehdi Ivanov, nicknamed Rusi Khan, a constitutional photographer, is another person whose presence in the region is not accompanied by credible evidence. The only evidence for his presence in Kurdistan and photography in this region is the oral narration of one of the descendants of the Asif Azam family that he was present in Kurdistan with the Russian forces during the constitutional disputes. No definite picture of Russia Khan has been found yet.

Photographers of Kurdistan in the Qajar era
The presence of two photographers in the city of Sanandaj and the Kurdistan region of Ardalan can be examined. One of them is a person named Pashakhan, he was the son of Najaf Gholikhan Ardalan, to whom a number of pictures taken during the Qajar era in Kurdistan definitely belong.
His presence can be identified in several photos taken during the Qajar era. Due to the lack of further evidence and the lack of access to his descendants, there is no more information about this photographer; The obvious problem is that Pashakhan did photography professionally, but it was not his main profession.

The oldest photos of Kurdistan:
The presence of a camera in Ardalan Kurdistan should be determined according to the oldest photograph taken from the region. Therefore, the images taken from Kurdistan during Nasser al-Din Shah's trip to Sanandaj in 1858 are the oldest available images and the first presence of a camera in the Kurdistan region.
The camera that was brought to Iran by the court was also brought to the region by Nasser al-Din Shah and his companions, considering the fact that Ardalan Kurdistan is a mountainous and impassable region and its distance was far from the center of Iran, naturally this tool was brought to the region by Nasser al-Din Shah. Subsequent cameras were brought in by landlords and houses in the area, as evidenced by the identification of the oldest photographer in the area, Pashakhan, who was a descendant of the Ardalan family. As mentioned earlier, Jules Richard and Jacques Dumergan were also present in the area. If there is any evidence of the presence of Jules Richard with a camera and photographs in the region before Nasser al-Din Shah, it is certainly a historical document, not only for the region, but also a valuable document in the history of Iranian photography. The reason that diminishes the possibility of older images of Nasser al-Din Shah's presence in the region is the difficulty of working with the original daguerreotype cameras and the mountainous nature of the region.
In album 679 of the Royal Album of Golestan Palace, two images of the city of Sanandaj can be seen. At the beginning of this album, the names of Agha Reza Iqbal al-Saltanah and Monsieur Carlian of France are written as the photographers of this album. To date, these two images are the oldest images obtained from the Ardalan Kurdistan region, which dates to the album of 1276, one year after Nasser al-Din Shah's visit to the region. The first image is a public view of Sanandaj city, which does not have a photographer's signature below these two images, and the other is a high-angle image of Sanandaj Citadel Square. Since the French photographers wrote their names briefly below the pictures and there is no photographer's signature under these two pictures, the possibility that the photographer was two photos of Mr. Karlhyan is somewhat ruled out. In this case, the photographer of these two photos is Mr. Reza Iqbal al-Saltanah, because he was with Shah Qajar on another trip to Khorasan and took a picture of the courtyard of Imam Reza's shrine. The technique has been used and this technique has been one of Mr. Reza's photography tricks.

Picture No. 1- View of Sanandaj city, album 679 Golestan Palace House Album

The caption below the two images is most likely Nasser al-Din Shah's own signature, as he personally wrote the original albums. So the phrase on the face of the city of Sanandaj, which is written at the top of the picture, is the signature of Naser al-Din Shah himself. Monsieur Karlian, who was brought to Iran a few months before Nasser al-Din Shah's trip to Kurdistan to teach photography, is certain to be with Mr. Reza during his trip to Kurdistan. He brought the method of wet Collondion with him to Iran and these two images were prepared in this way. The long exposure time in the second image is a good example of this style of photography.
The third image in terms of historical classification is the image of Luigi Montabone, an Italian photographer in 1862, prepared by Gholamshah Khan Ardalan, Amanullah Khan Thani, the last governor of Kurdistan. He comes to Iran with an Italian delegation for military affairs, and in addition to photographing Nasser al-Din Shah and the courtiers, he travels to other parts of Iran.
It is unlikely that the photo would be taken in Kurdistan, because according to Montaboneh crossing route and the list of cities he traveled to and photographed, the name of Kurdistan is not mentioned and only the name of Kermanshah can be seen. On the other hand, the last governor of Ardalan, who was born to a Qajar mother, has always traveled between Tehran and Sanandaj in the last years of his rule. It is also possible that the maid went to Tehran with him. As a result, due to not mentioning the city of Sanandaj, among the cities he passed through, the probability of being photographed in Tehran is very high. The history of photography is a few years before the removal of Gholamshah Khan from the political scene of the region.


Fig. No. 2. Sanandaj Citadel, Album 679 Golestan Palace Album House


Picture No. 3. Gholamshah Khan Ardalan, photographer Luigi Montabone


As in other parts of Iran, in this region, photographs are usually taken outdoors and in courtyards or gardens of large old houses and mansions. By placing a simple cloth on the wall and placing the subject in front of these simple, pattern-free curtains, the photographer is actually separating the subject from the space behind it. The first photography studios were established in large cities, and it was a place for taking photo ordinary people other than courtiers. To date, however, there is no evidence of a photo studio in Sanandaj during the Qajar period, the presence of two photographers, both of whom were from homes in the area and certainly pursued photography as a hobby, could be a reason for the lack of a special place as a photography studio in the area. After the prevalence of photography, we also see the presence of painted curtains. The presence of these curtains in the images related to the Ardalan Kurdistan region is evident in open spaces. The designs on the curtains are usually non-native buildings and landscapes, which increases the possibility that the curtains were imported from the Ottoman Empire, due to trade relations between Kurdistan and the Ottomans and the existence of an Ottoman consulate in Sanandaj. In a small number of images, we see the presence of people in spaces like a photo studio. These images, some of which were taken as business cards by local leaders and rulers, were certainly not taken in the Kurdistan region, and most likely were taken in cities around Kurdistan that had more facilities for photography.
The use of image preparation techniques is also evident in a number of images; Printing techniques such as cache and degradauter can be seen in several images.
In the historical study of the images obtained from Ardalan Kurdistan, we are faced with several methods for classification. One of the methods of classification based on the time calendar is the images that have been done for the three old images obtained from the Kurdistan region of Ardalan, but the classification based on the number of collections is definitely the best way to classify and review the existing images. Classification and review are done according to the set of images obtained.
Because if we use the criterion of historical classification based on the ruling and famous people in the pictures, considering the long-term presence of the Kurdish Ardalan family in the region, even after the removal of the government, this family still has considerable value and respect in the region. The photographer of this family in the region has caused the famous people of this family to always be present in the pictures of this region. In the meantime, we are faced with several collections, which will be considered later.

Album No. 100 Golestan Palace House Album
This album, without the date and the name of the photographer, contains twenty-two photos of Ardalan Kurdistan. The pictures in this album are related to government rulers, tribal leaders of the region, some pictures of Sanandaj city and the mansions in the government castle, pictures of some local clerics and dervishes of the region. The images in this collection are scattered and probably due to the location of the photo in this album. Considering the type of clothing and the condition of the people in front of the camera, it is very likely that these images were taken to make a video report of the situation of the readers and governors of the region, because Naser al-Din Shah was used to provide images of the situation and the rulers of different regions were informed.


Picture No. 4. Heads of Government of Kurdistan, Album No. 100 of Golestan Palace Album House


One of the reasons that it is not possible to determine the exact date for the images of this album is the existence of several photos of Moshir Divan in different ages in this collection. Certainly, those who are photographed in this album, like the rest of the existing collections of images from the Qajar period and before the Constitutional Revolution, are the ruling people and the upper class of society. Even photos taken in rural areas and in local clothes, due to having subtitles, show the importance of the people in the photo. The images of this album are divided into two categories in terms of coverage, which is one of the characteristics of attributing images to the Kurdistan region: the first category is images of local rulers and those around them in the formal clothes of the Qajar period. The second category is pictures of local and rural rulers in non-urban areas in Kurdish clothes. A noteworthy point in this album is some pictures related to two dervishes, which are most likely related to the dervishes of the Qaderieh sect. Another valuable image in this collection is a group outdoor photo of a gathering of dervishes Ghaderi with a Daf instrument. This image is undoubtedly a unique and special image of the Kurdistan region. What makes this album special is its special reporting mode. These pictures were taken as a report from the rulers of the region for the court.

Photo album of Ali Khan Wali
This collection is undoubtedly the richest photos taken from the western region of the country. Ali Khan was educated in abroad and was familiar with the art of photography. "Nasser al-Din Shah usually sent photographers to different parts of Iran and ordered them to take photographs of roads, caravanserais, provinces, settlements, and everywhere else, and to inform him of the conditions in that region. However, he did not undertake any mission to photograph the western and northwestern regions of Iran, because a photographer ruler, relying on his financial means, government authority, was engaged in preparing video reports there without any time or place restrictions. In a letter, he appreciated Ali Khan's action and asked him to continue this process "(Aboutalebi, 2016) The government of Kurdistan accepts Kermanshah and Gross and sends them to the region to carry out its mission. The photos in this collection include a number of images of local celebrities, readers, government officials, religious authorities in the region, as well as for the first time the wives of prominent people and their children, as well as images of Sanandaj and Ali Khan's ceremonies and meetings with Amir Nezam's son and Ottoman representatives. The importance of this album is due to the descriptions next to the pictures, which are less visible about the pictures from Kurdistan. In this album, the combination of local and non-local elements in the pictures of women is interesting. Such a combination is rarely seen in other collections of collected photos. The women in the picture are the wives and children of local celebrities sitting in front of Ali Khan Wali's camera. This is an interesting feature in the face of photographing women in Kurdish areas. Women in these areas are more comfortable sitting in front of stranger men and being photographed than in other parts of Iran.
In the collection of photos presented from Ardalan Kurdistan, the photographs have more breadth and variety than other collections. Ali Khan is present in a number of his pictures, and it is very likely that his assistant, who was with Ali Khan, took the photos. Photos of Sanandaj mansions, a number of Sanandaj women, several views of Sanandaj city and government castle mansions, of which no trace remains today, are among the photos in this collection. The presence of several photos of dervishes and scholars of Sanandaj along with a view of Ali Khan in a promenade near and outside the city of Sanandaj is one of the remarkable images in this collection. Ali Khan's fast-breaking ceremony at Naderi Mansion, along with his meeting with foreign stockbrokers and an officer of the Ottoman Commission of Inquiry at the Zafaria Mansion in Sanandaj, confirms the reported nature of the collection.

Collection of Ismail Khan Motamed Vaziri: (1847)
The newly found collection of images of the Motamed Vaziri family, who are descendants of Mirza and Reza Wazir, is one of the magnificent collections obtained from the late Qajar period. This family has always been in charge of promoting local governors during the Qajar period. Eighteen of the 64 collections of images found belonging to this family - which are in the form of negative glass - have been lent to the author by one of the descendants of Ismail Khan Motamed Vaziri.
The images in this collection all seem to be family images. Ismail Khan Motamed Vaziri, the photographer of this collection, according to the claim of one of his descendants, received a camera as a teenager and 16 years old from a Russian photographer who was brought to this place to take pictures of the Kurdistan region. In this collection, we encounter photos of family members, soldiers and pictures of women in the family garden and open spaces and children. Some of the images were originally photographed, which may be related to Ismail Khan's early learning of photography, and others that are better framed are definitely related to later periods of his photography. The photos in this collection show the mind of a teenage seeker who is interested in capturing the people around him. Among the images, there is a photo of the photographer himself that can be taken as a selfie. What is clear is that Ismail Khan did not look at photography as a lucrative profession, but merely as a means of entertaining and satisfying his photographic curiosity. The presence of women in local costumes and children in this collection is interesting.

Antion Serruguin
Antoine Serruguin, one of the most prominent photographers in nineteenth-century Iran, takes photographs from different parts of Iran on the advice of his teacher. In the meantime, her photographs of men and women with different religious backgrounds and in local costumes are becoming popular. Among the collection of photos, he has taken from different parts of Iran, I come across a number of images from Kurdish regions. Serruguin images of Kurdish areas are divided into two categories; The first group of pictures taken from a number of Kurdish families in Kurdish clothing and in their home and local living space, which according to the method of clothing, is related to the Kermanshah region and surrounding cities such as Ilam.


Fig. No. 5. Kurdish family, photographer Antoine Serruguin

The second group shows us pictures of women dressed in Kurdish poses and Qajar skirts on carpets and kilims. These images are among the staged photographs of Antoine Serruguin, and the women's clothing in the images is very close to that of women in the Ardalan Kurdistan region. Among the images found in Serruguin 's archive, there are other images of the Kermanshah region with subtitles and his special mark that he recorded in the margins of his photographs, which is a proof of the photographer's presence in the Kermanshah region. As for his presence in the Kurdistan region of Ardalan and the city of Sanandaj, no historical document mentions his visit to this region, but since in the late Qajar period Kurdistan of Ardalan was part of Kermanshah and was not considered a separate province, one can guess and raised the possibility of his presence in the area. This claim is confirmed by finding a picture of the city of Sanandaj in the archives of Veladimir Minorsky and engraving the special symbol of Suryugin in the corner of the image, and proves his presence in the Kurdistan region of Ardalan.
A collection of scattered photographs has also been collected, including eighty photographs from the Ardalan Kurdistan region during the Qajar period, which have been collected personally from local families. These images, like other images in the Qajar period and especially the beginning of the presence of photography in Iran and the region, are just images of rulers and readers, which is natural given the social system in the region and the presence of the feudal class, which sees less presence of farmers in those photos.

A study of the ethnic and cultural characteristics of Kurdish people photos
The cultural and ethnic characteristics of each nation will not be separate from their historical background, and the history of each nation itself reflects the cultural history of that nation and people. The Kurds, who were among the most noble inhabitants of the Iranian plateau, have characteristics similar to those of a material society. Kurdish culture has been influenced by their nomadic way of life and the geography of the region, which includes impassable mountains and deep valleys with lush plains and wildflowers, and has shown this nature in place of Kurdish culture.
In examining the images obtained from the region and the cultural features present in the images, what attracts attention in the first place and the most obvious feature for identifying images related to the Kurds is the coverage of the people present in the photos.
In examining the coverage of the Kurds in the images collected from Ardalan Kurdistan, we come across several categories of images. In a number of images, we encounter official cover similar to other regions of Iran, which indicates customized and report-like photographs to inform Nasser al-Din Shah and his kings about the situation in different regions and to know the rulers of the region. In a number of other combinations, formal dress and local dress can be seen, which was common even in women's clothing of that period; like Qajar formal clothes and Kurdish headbands for men and women.

Fig. No. 6. Person on the left: Haj Mazharat al-Islam, a constitutional activist, Motamedi family personal album

In another category of images, we encounter people in completely local clothes, which is abundant in rural areas and far from the city, in contrast to urban areas where the ruling class or government officials are present and the cover is completely formal and Qajar. The details of the clothes of the people in the pictures shows gender, social class, economic conditions, marriage or celibacy, and even belonging to a specific region in the geography of Kurdistan. In the meantime, color also stands out as another feature in Kurdish clothing. Nikitin describes the variety of colors in Kurdish clothing as follows: "Generally, the use of different colors in Kurdish clothing is due to their close relationship with nature and the environment. "So that the artistic use of the colors of nature and its manifestations have found their way not only in clothes, but even in the basis of their homes, such as carpets, kilims, etc." (Nikitin, 1987, 219)

Fig. No.7. Haj Mazhar al-Islam, personal album of Motamedi family


The presence of region-specific equipment and in accordance with the culture and geographical requirements can be seen in the collected photos of the region. Although some of the photos used in Kurdistan can be seen in other parts of Iran, but the presence of regional handicrafts in the images, especially the handmade carpets and rugs of Kurdistan itself is another sign of the presence of Kurds. For example, the "Saneh" carpet, which is used as a mat and sometimes as a decorative cover for use behind the scenes. It should be noted that the use of carpets as a photo background has also been common in the central regions of Iran and in the centers that are known as the main centers of carpet weaving.
The existence of weapons in the photos of other regions of Iran was not common before the constitutional period and appears in the photos after the constitutional events. However, in the pictures related to Ardalan Kurdistan, especially in the pictures taken in non-urban areas, the weapon is a part of Kurdish clothing, and this issue is completely consistent with the way of life and geographical and political location of the region.

Fig. No. 8. Armed Kurdish Men, Golestan Palace Album No. 100


The presence of music in the life of the Kurds is historical and religious. In some of the existing photos of the region during the Qajar period, the presence of the Daf instrument, which is used in religious ceremonies and rituals in the region, is interesting. Along with the Daf, we see the presence of certain classes in the Kurdish community in the images related to this period; a class called the Shaykhs, who follow the Qadiriye  sect, is one of the ancient mystical sects in the Kurdish regions of the Middle East. The accompaniment of the Daf instrument with the elders confirms the connection of this instrument with the religious rituals of the Kurds. The presence of the elders of the Naqshbandiye  sect, another influential mystical sect in the Kurdish regions, is not seen in the pictures until the Pahlavi period, and we only see the presence of the elders of the Qaderiye sect.
The presence of individuals as a group in post-revolutionary photos became common in all parts of Iran, while in Kurdish areas the presence of groups in front of the camera can be seen before the Constitutional Revolution, and this is also influenced by the social structure and the presence of tribes and Nomads and their solidarity. In non-urban areas, the percentage of group images is much higher than in urban areas. In portrait photography of the Qajar period, important people are sitting or in the center of the photo.

Fig. No. 9. Dervish Ghaderi, Album No. 100 of Golestan Palace Album


Another noteworthy point in some of the images in this area is the easier presence of women in front of the camera. Women in Kurdish areas are seen without veils or headscarves and with local clothing and caps. In a number of photos, Kurdish women wear hats, indicating that they belonged to the khan and aristocracy. The presence of women in the images of the Qajar period in this region is less than other regions of Iran. In the meantime, the presence of people in nature in a number of images is remarkable, and this shows the love and interest of the people of the region for nature; because the way of life and living in the mountainous nature has affected the place of living of the Kurds in this region, and this has made it easier for women to be in front of the camera.

Fig. No. 10. Sanandaji Kurdish women, personal album


Photography as a tool imported from the West for a short time appeared in other parts of Iran in addition to Tehran. In the Ardalan Kurdistan region, due to the remoteness of the region in terms of geographical distance and living conditions of the people of this region, photography entered the region with a time delay and this issue has not been ineffective in lagging behind other regions of Iran in terms of photography methods. The oldest method of photography is the wet Collondion method, and other methods of photography have become more popular in the region with a longer time interval. In the meantime, the lack of a social middle class as well as the high cost of the photographic process are the reasons for its confinement among certain classes.
The presence of the camera in Ardalan Kurdistan undoubtedly coincides with the arrival of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar in the region in 1858. Photography arrives in Iran at the same time as the reign of Khosrow Khan Ardalan, known as Nakam. During the reign of Mohammad Shah Qajar, the French Jules Richard was sent to the region by the king to explore the mine (1849).
The photos in album no. 679 of the Golestan Palace, Royal House album are the oldest photos found to date, two images of the city of Sanandaj and Arg Square, most likely taken by Agha Reza Akasbashi and subtitled by Naser al-Din Shah. Another photo that dates back to after Nasser al-Din Shah's visit to the region is an image taken by Luigi Montabone, an Italian photographer of Gholam Shah Khan Ardalan, the last governor of Ardalan in Kurdistan, in 1862.
Kurdistan is present in travelogues and picture books of Westerners. The oldest description of Ardalan Kurdistan is probably related to Claudius James Rich, who in his travelogue in 1820 described the mansions of Sanandaj. Tourists and others like Heiner Binder, Isabella Lucy Bird Bishab, EB. Swan, Alexander Ayaz and a number of others have taken photographs of Kurdish areas.
Antion Serruguin is one of the most prominent photographers in the region, possibly taking photo off Kurdish women. The presence of Ivanov, nicknamed Rusikhan, in the region is questionable.
In the meantime, two people who have taken photographs in Ardalan Kurdistan and were naturally from the houses of the region, one is Pashakhan Ardalan and the other is Mirza Ismail Khan Motamed Vaziri. Due to trade relations with the Ottoman Empire and the presence of the Ottoman Consulate in the city of Sanandaj, painted curtains were definitely used as a background through this country and were imported into the region by merchants. Some of the collections that can be examined are the 100 albums of the Royal Album of Golestan Palace, the book of Ali Khan Wali, the collection of photographs of Kurdish women by Antoine Serruguin and the collection of newly found images of Ismail Khan Motamed Vaziri. In the meantime, a number of images of local individuals and families have been collected in a scattered manner, and it will not be possible to determine the date of the images in any other way except through the presence of rulers and prominent people in the photos.
What can be deduced from these collected images is the historical value of the images as historical, geographical and, most importantly, cultural documents about the way of life and cover of the Kurds living in this region. One of the special cultural and ethnic features that can be seen in the photos of this region is the clothing of people, which itself has details for the social classification of people.
The presence of people as a group, especially in images taken from non-urban areas of Kurdistan Ardalan, presence in nature and the presence of women more easily than other areas in front of the camera are other features of images in this area that indicate the lifestyle and culture of Ardalan Kurdistan has it.

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