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addressغول آباد / مقاله‌ها / Hen party in Yezd / Women of the desert city

Women of the desert city

\ Hen party in Yezd

tree Women of the desert city

3- Hen party in Yezd
Mary Boazmanwriter Mary Boazman

Miss Mary Boazman was a British journalist and writer in the early 20th century. She was feminist and advocate of women’s rights. A number of articles written by her have been published in newspapers and magazines between 1900s and 1920s.
Urania Latham
Dr Urania Latham and her son, George. She was Rev Napier Malcolm’s wife and was present in this party.
Napier Malcolm

1- Beginning

Some friends of the writer, staying in Yezd, called upon the wife of a high official. Their visit had, of course, been notified beforehand, and they went in their full numbers, (1) the more guests, the greater honor, according to Persian etiquette.

Upon their arrival, their hostess inquired anxiously about their “serene healths,” and introduced them to a bevy of chosen friends.

2- Hostess

This little woman presented a truly grotesque spectacle. She wore the ordinary indoor dress of a lady of rank, which consists of a tunic, a pair of narrow silk trousers and three or four skirts one above the other, none of them reaching quite to the knees. These skirts are often from five to six yards wide, and give their wearers the appearance of ballet dancers.

Indeed, it is said that the late Shah (2) was so charmed with the attire of the London (3) variety artistes, that on his return home he ordered all his court ladies to adopt these short full skirts (4), which are now considered the most modish attire in every part of the country. (5)

Dress and makeup of Qajar women
Left: Wearing shaliteh was the most widespread home clothes fashion for Qajar women. Right: Painting moustache was a limited makeup fashion for Qajar women. Both of these fashions were adopted and designed by Naser ad-Din Shah.
? / Yahya Mirza Dowlatshahi, 1917

As Persian women have sallow complexions, and are great admirers of English lilies and roses, the cheeks of this eastern dame were thickly rouged giving her a most extraordinary appearance, and on her face was painted a pair of large black moustaches. Several of the guests had assumed a like semblance of masculinity, in strict accordance, it appeared, with the latest Teheran fashion.

Hen party
The Qajari oil color painting of a Persian hen party in a Persian garden. Brewing and handing round tea is the main part of every Persian party.
Ismail Jalayir

3- Entertainment

Chairs had been procured from somewhere to do honor to the Europeans, but after a time the Persians all slipped on the floor, apologising profusely for this breach of manners, but pleading that their legs ached so terribly.

In the corner of the room was a small table, the top full of sockets, (6) in which were sweetmeats, pistachio nuts, etc. These the hostess passed to her guests in her fingers, putting her left hand under her right elbow while doing so, a national form of politeness.

Tea was handed round in little glasses, in glass saucers, and as the liquid was boiling hot, and the glasses had no handles, the task of raising them to the lips was not an easy one.

In Persia, no matter what hour in the day a call may be paid, the guest is always expected to drink tea. It would give grave offence not to do so, and the more cups that one takes, the greater the satisfaction of one’s entertainer.

The tea itself is abominable. Made exceedingly weak, about six lumps of sugar are added to each tiny glass, and, needless to say, the milk is omitted.

Music and dance was a part of this party.
Smithsonian Institution

The amusements provided on this occasion were a flute player, sitting in the porch out of sight and a boy contortionist. The entrance to the andaruni in the porch is always round a corner.

In conclusion cups of coffee flavored with cocoa were handed round, accompanied by a dish of cold potatoes, the latter delicacy supposed to be what the foreign visitors liked best at home.

4- Ending

But ennui soon blights all harem functions, at which there is nothing new to talk about and nothing new to be seen.

Naser ad-Din Shah’s harem in Saltanat Abad
The ending of this party was held at poolside.
Naser ad-Din Shah Qajar

An enterprising Englishwoman once proposed during a call that every one should adjourn to the garden and catch goldfish in the pond, a sport which caused intense delight until a fish was actually landed, when the tender-hearted hostess burst into tears.

footnote Footnotes

(1) In Yezd, “Christian colony … at present consists of only eighteen Europeans, to which may be added twenty-two Armenians, the households of men in European employment.” (Five Years; p. 54)
(2) Naser ad-Din Shah Qajar.
(3) Many sources say that Naser ad-Din Shah had adopted shalite from Paris; but his first mentions of ballerinas were in London: “13 June 1873; Tonight there was a Ballet party at the top floor of our mansion. ... Everyone danced; a kind of dance called ballet.” “22 June 1873; We reached the theater hall. The crown Prince of England was also there. ... Opera and ballet were both nice. They sang and danced well. Pretty dancers, pretty outfits.” (Safarname-ye Naser ad-Din Shah be farang; p. 105 and 127)
(4) Tutu or shalite.
(5) “In those days, fashion was determined by what would come out of court’s harem. Women kept an eye on the court to follow any fashion that came out of it.” (Yaddasht-hai az zendegi-e khosusi-e Naser ad-Din Shah; p. 44)
(6) The narrator is probably talking about a special wooden chest called hezar pishe whose lid was open. These chests were used for carrying fragile containers during travel.
Lady’s Realm; volume 22; issue 144; October 1908resource Lady’s Realm; volume 22; issue 144; October 1908

The Lady’s Realm was an illustrated monthly British women’s magazine, published from 1896 until 1916 in London. This feminist magazine was popular and sold reasonably well in United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

The magazine was including articles, photographs, poems, fiction, fashion trends, enlightened ideas on women’s life and columns by popular authors such as Marie Corelli, Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett, Jack London, and Herbert George Wells.

Its end may have been due to the First World War in 1916; and its history and archive was destroyed during the London Blitz in the Second World War in 1940 and 1941.
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avatarcomment I started work in Iran in 1965 (I was born in Alabama educated in California) In 1967 I married a Yazdi woman. In our 52 years of marriage we lived in Yazd and Tehran about 25 years. She and our children are the best moments of my life. This article while very interesting and informative it makes me smile. The article brings back memories that make me cry. This article is genuinely worth reading for anyone with an interest in Iranian culture. Thank you!

date ۲۱ شهریور ۱۳۹۸
name nehemiah Cox
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