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May 17, 2024

The First ‘Selfie’ in History of Iran Was Taken by Nasseredin Shah With His Concubines

This historic image is widely considered to be one of the very first selfie photos ever taken in Iran. It features Nasseredin Shah (or Nasser al-Din Shah), the fourth king of the Qajar dynasty, and his wives captured in a mirror of Andaruni (harem).

Born 1831, died 1896. Nasseredin looks at least twenty at the posted picture, so that would put the photo at least around between the 1850s and1860s.

The king had an immense love for photography and was a skilled photographer himself. During his numerous trips to Europe, he acquired the latest cameras and even appointed at least two official court photographers.

Iranian history has been closely intertwined with photography, with the first photographic images appearing in the country in the mid-19th century. 

The first daguerreotype cameras were brought into Iran by request of Mohammad Shah Qajar from Russia and England. Russian cameras, which were a gift from the emperor, arrived first and were brought to Tehran by young Russian diplomat, Nikolay Pavlov, who had previously learned photography for this purpose.

According to the notes of Jules Richard, the first photography in Iran was carried out by mid-December 1842. Iranian Prince Malek Qassem Mirza and Frenchman Jules Richard are among the pioneers who also did photography in Iran via daguerreotype.

Apart from one photo, none of the Iranian daguerreotypes have survived, but some of them, including portraits of Mohammad Shah and Crown Prince Naser al-Din Shah, have been handed over to Kamal-al-Molk, who used them to create painted portraits.

In the early 20th century, with the arrival of modern technology and access to cameras, Iranian photographers began documenting the daily lives of their compatriots in greater detail. Photography, which was before in the serve of the kings and elites, became an essential tool for documenting glimpses of history and culture.




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