IN PICTURES: What were beauty standards like in Iran during the 19th century?

Anis Al Dawlah, Naser al-Din Shah's favorite wife. (Supplied)

Although nowadays Iranian women seek cosmetic surgeries such as nose jobs, breasts and buttocks’ augmentation, yet the standards of beauty in Iran in the nineteenth century were completely different from what is considered beautiful today.

Obesity was then the prominent feature of women, and the heavier they were, the more appealing for men.

The mustache was a beauty standard for women, and this means that the hair removal products available today would not have been very popular two centuries ago.

Despite his many marriages, Naser al-Din Shah was a man seeking the pleasures of life, which angered those around him.

The Iranian king loved photography since his childhood days. When he ascended the Iranian throne, he set up a photography room in his palace and brought the Russian photographer Antoin Sevruguin to Tehran as his personal photographer.

The photographer was only allowed to photograph the king, family men and the palace staff.

The Iranian king photographed his harem women himself; they were over a 100 women.

Then, he would process the photos in the darkroom, before he finally kept them in the palace of Gulestan -currently an exhibition at the Iranian capital Tehran.

At that time, the Shiite tradition of jurisprudence forbade photographing women, but only the king could cross the boundaries.

When looking closely at the pictures of the wives of Naser al-Din Shah in front of the camera, they seem relaxed and at ease.

This indicates that the wives of Naser al-Din Shah were from the upper class, or perhaps from aristocratic families who ignored the prevailing social traditions.

The pictures also reflect a friendship among the wives, unlike the expected familiar hostility, as they stood side by side in front of the camera; they were known for traveling together.

There are many pictures showing the wives of Naser al-Din Shah wearing short skirts. The Iranian king is said to have attended a ballet show in Russia.

He admired the short skirts of dancers and since then has made his wives and harem wear them.


Last Update: 15:15 KSA 18:15 - GMT 15:15