ajammc:

SNEAK PEAK OF OUR NEXT UPCOMING ARTICLE: Ahmad Zahir, an ‪#‎Afghan‬legacy, singer, and a childhood friend. Memories, personal photographs, and history come together in this beautiful piece. Look out for it next week!

In the meantime, check out Ajam’s #2 Psychedelic Mixtape, which features Ahmad Zahir’s “Laili Laili” here.

artpipo:

Ridiculously old paintings, but Jean-Baptiste Van Mour is back in the news for his famous depictions of Ottoman fashion. His work contributed to Parisians’ fetish over eastern-style clothing in the 1700s, but who am I kidding, we still fetishize today.  

So on point.  artpipo:

Ridiculously old paintings, but Jean-Baptiste Van Mour is back in the news for his famous depictions of Ottoman fashion. His work contributed to Parisians’ fetish over eastern-style clothing in the 1700s, but who am I kidding, we still fetishize today.  

So on point.  artpipo:

Ridiculously old paintings, but Jean-Baptiste Van Mour is back in the news for his famous depictions of Ottoman fashion. His work contributed to Parisians’ fetish over eastern-style clothing in the 1700s, but who am I kidding, we still fetishize today.  

So on point.  artpipo:

Ridiculously old paintings, but Jean-Baptiste Van Mour is back in the news for his famous depictions of Ottoman fashion. His work contributed to Parisians’ fetish over eastern-style clothing in the 1700s, but who am I kidding, we still fetishize today.  

So on point.  artpipo:

Ridiculously old paintings, but Jean-Baptiste Van Mour is back in the news for his famous depictions of Ottoman fashion. His work contributed to Parisians’ fetish over eastern-style clothing in the 1700s, but who am I kidding, we still fetishize today.  

So on point. 

artpipo:

Ridiculously old paintings, but Jean-Baptiste Van Mour is back in the news for his famous depictions of Ottoman fashion. His work contributed to Parisians’ fetish over eastern-style clothing in the 1700s, but who am I kidding, we still fetishize today.  

So on point. 

From our Ajam family to yours, Happy Nowruz

ajammc:

haftseen:

Pennsylvania, USA

"the making of a haft seen." 

Q

Anonymous asked:

Have you been to Iran? What do you think of the lack of historical buildings in most Iranian cities, even in Esfahan and Shiraz? Iranians have a habit of demolishing their old buildings, and it got worse under Reza Shah. It really infuriates me how Iranian cities cannot be like Istanbul with old streets everywhere and beautiful old buildings all around the city. In most cases it's just our palaces, mosques and bazaars that were not demolished. Has this been a loss to Iran, or am I overreacting?

A

Hey. I think about this a lot. As a historian who wishes everything could be preserved and researched and analyzed, I don’t think you’re overreacting.

But the changes, I think, speak a lot to what sort of image Iran wanted to project of itself, both to Iranians on a domestic level and to non-Iranians on a global scale. 

Check out Talinn Grigor’s book on architecture, Building Iran. It answers some of the questions you’re asking. 

Q

Anonymous asked:

I saw a Qajar-era photo of an Iranian woman wearing an outfit that exposes her breasts, and have seen several paintings of the same thing (it doesn't allow me to post links here). Was it normal for Iranian women to have their breasts exposed in the Qajar era, what about in different social classes? Was she most likely from a lower class or upper class? Prostitute or more high society member?

A

Hey—this is a great question, but unfortunately I can’t answer without seeing the photo. My guess is either slave or prostitute (?). If you go through my tumblr archives, you’ll see some examples of Qajar dress for women.

As for the paintings, that is pretty standard. Here is a non-scandalous photo for your enjoyment: 

image

Woman with flowers, Bahman Jalai (d. 2010)  

Q

Anonymous asked:

I don't know how to respond to Iranians who think they hate Islam :/ I want to be understanding and courteous, but sometimes what they say is so ignorant, that I just get upset. Also it feels so fake to "educate" people about Islam. I wish I could teach by example but I'm not a worthy example, and anyways I don't always see them regularly. What's your advice on how to respond to people who think I'm an IRI spy? :p

A

naasirheydari:

Short answer: Just tell them that a few decades and a few men can’t represent 14 centuries of vastly diverse religious, cultural, and intellectual output. There isn’t one “Islam” that can be an object of hate. If you want to hate a regime, ok, but something as diverse and loose as an entire religion, that really doesn’t make sense (unless you are a bigot.)

Long answer: I think people in general tend to have very antiquated views on religion and its place in society. Whether we like it or not, the phenomenon of religion (however you may understand it) has always existed and will continue to exist. Even things which people consider “not religion” take on the structure of the dominant religions of their environment, like the New Atheism and popular science (especially in as much as they too, like many religions, rely on submitting to an ‘expert.’)

Anyways I think the main points anyone should make is:

1) It is problematic to look at 1400+ years of history through the lens of post-1979 Iran (whose story is still being written.) Furthermore, the Islam of an “Islamic state” is a very new phenomena, incredibly new actually given that its very existence relies on modern technology within the model of the “state,” a term that from its inception has come with its own theology of sorts. There is a lot to this but I really don’t have time to get into it. Also, the ascendancy of the legal scholars (the mullahs) as opposed to other forms of religious authority probably only dates back to a century or two ago.

2) When we speak about religions as unified wholes “(Christianity” or “Islam,”) we are not speaking about something that is real, but rather an abstraction that helps us talk about something. 

3) There are as many different “Islams” as there are individuals. There is no singular group called “Muslims” that thinks and acts the same way.

4) Most of the things people complain today are almost always things that people in the past have complained about. The only difference would be that people in the past usually blamed specific people or movements while people today blame the aforementioned abstractions. This happens with other things too, for instance someone asks, “Why is there such oppression in such and such a place?” Then some talking head throws out a bunch of words either blaming “capitalism” or “socialism” or “racism” etc. etc. 

5) Another major problem is that Iranians don’t have access to new research and are often far behind the cutting edge in history and other fields. They still read translated Orientalist fables about the conquest and conversion of Iran via modern nationalistic notions of what an “Iranian” is and what an “Arab” is, none of which hold historically. Iran (the classical area, not the modern nation state) has a lot of history and all of it is fascinating. But as a rule, mistrust anyone that paints ANY time in history as being “golden” or some utopian paradise. That has NEVER been the case. People, whether Muslim or not, have tended to be for the most part pretty crappy, with occasional exceptions. That doesn’t make the history any less interesting. The transition from Sasanian Iran to Islamic Iran is really fascinating, and full of more continuities than it is of ruptures. And things never remained the same, things always changed. We forget this about the past. Sadly, even in America, the state of Iranian studies is pretty sad, and the few people who try to save it from second-rate nationalist scholarship tend to face vehement criticism. It is difficult for those of us who are devoted to other studies to not feel a pull to enter into the arena and try to help the situation.

The Persian-speaking individuals in the past who left timeless legacies didn’t do it through priding themselves on their ancestors, they did it by being fully human. “Religion,” in the academic sense, is a human phenomenon, it is something we humans do. Even in the absence of a divine source, humans ritualize their actions and create elaborate cosmologies to live. We idolize even if the idols are not sacred. We turn men into saints even if we reject higher powers. Have you seen how people speak about Edison or Einstein? Or, on a more depressing note, have you seen how some kids talk about Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber? 

I’m sorry this is way too long. I really don’t think we need to defend anything, certainly not Islam. You can’t erase Islam from Iran’s past just like you can’t erase Zoroastrianism, Mazdakism (though this almost happened,) Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and a billion other things. So much of what people love about our cultures (because there are many Persian and Persianate cultures) comes from the Muslim period. It is stupid to let a few decades change that. 

Also, in general, we need to start having people think of history on the global level, not the specific regional or national level. It’ll help put things in perspective. We also need to use these terms in a more sophisticated way. “Islam” doesn’t say or do anything, people do, in their own place and time.

Rant over. If you have more questions, send them and I’ll get to them eventually. Gotta do some work. 

(PS I don’t respond to reblogs. If you have a comment you want me to respond to, send it to my inbox.)

“Aqa Muhammad Khan Qajar (first Qajar king, late 18th century) apparently hid his jewels under his bed.”

15 Minute History is cool because you can either listen to the podcast or you can read the transcript (I usually find myself reading the transcripts). 

Re: the rise of nationalisms in the Balkans under the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century: 

"It really had to do with, on the one hand, the rise of Europe as a viable power, Europe as a challenge to Ottoman rule, and the nation-state as a new political model that was attractive to small elites in the Balkans, who looked to Europe as a model, who were educated in many cases in Europe, and who discovered the idea of nationalism in Europe, and began to think of themselves as secular nations. In some cases this grew out of millet autonomies. There were already autonomies that people were building upon, taking those autonomies and giving them nationalist meaning.

But in other ways nationalism cut across the lines of the millets. Within the Orthodox millet, the Greeks were dominating that millet by the 18th-century, even at the local level. And this caused Romanians and Bulgarians to want out. So, actually it was language and not religion that became the impetus for their nationalisms. So, by the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was unstable in the Balkans for a variety of reasons, but the rise of nationalist movements and specific uprisings that happen in the 19th-century drew a lot of attention from Europe. Although these uprisings were no more powerful than they were elsewhere in Europe, like Poland, or elsewhere in the Middle East in the same period, it drew lot of attention because these were Christians, who were under Islamic rule, and who were being, in many cases, slaughtered in reprisals after these uprisings. In many cases these uprisings included the killing of Muslim civilians, for example, or military officers and so as reprisal the Ottomans came in and slaughtered, in many cases, whole villages.

Europe was very concerned; the United States was even concerned at that time. It drew a lot of attention from the outside and there were series of interventions on behalf of these Balkan peoples, even though in reality these were small and elite minorities who wanted to create nation-states that they would essentially be leaders of personally.”