Journal of history of Iran)

Document Type : Research Paper


Iran University of Science and Technology


Images and the act of creating them were important matters during Qajar period in Iran, and amongst the visual productions of the era, the subject of buildings and built environment were constantly present. Although Qajar architecture was more leaning towards practice rather than theory and it did not articulate its own methods in any elaborate textual or visual formation, there was a flow of diverse imagery traceable throughout the whole era, focusing more on depicting an envisioned version of the buildings than of their realized one. This study is concerned with presenting a genuine narrative on this aspect of Qajar visual culture, concerning two interdependent reference platforms: first, the general history of Qajar as a context that the contemporary notion of “state” and “nation” in Iran emerges from; and second, the general history of contemporary architecture in Iran as the main pretext to the existence of images as well as a realm within which, ultimately, every historical narrative about them should operate. To that purpose, two historically important sets of images from lithographic illustrations of Naser al-Din Shah Era in official newspapers of “Dowlat-e Aliyye-ye Iran” (18601871) and “Sharaf” (18821891-) have been investigated and interpreted: as a glimpse of the grasp of modern state in its initial stages upon the significance of buildings and built environment which resulted in a major shift in the conception of architecture in that period. Based on this narrative, there can be an understanding of these illustrations as the emerging architectural face of the state in Iran at the end of the 19th century; an understanding that might lead, although in small scale, to an oversight observing the relation between architecture and the state in contemporary Iran from a historical point of view.