Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran

Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran

Qajar Music Collection

A collection of photographs, 35 audio files from 17 records, and 35 record labels of the first vocal recordings of three female singers, Iftikhar Khanum, Amjad Khanum, and Zari Khanum; made in Iran. Recording Company: Gramophone Record Company Recorded by: Edmond James Pierce Recording date: October and November of 1912 Recording location: Gramophone Company Studio at Fil Khanah Alley (Lalahzar, Tehran) Production: Riga (Russia) Record type: shellac (double-sided) Records diameter: 25 cm First run – date: March and September of 1913 and September of 1914. Record trademarks: Concert Gramophone Record and Amour Gramophone Record Reproduction: 1916, Calcutta, India, record trademark: Amour Gramophone Record Other reproductions: between 1918 and 1924 with the record trademark: His Master’s Voice.

Collection Highlights

Collection Details

  • History

    The first recordings of music on gramophone records started in 1905/1906. These were only focused on recording the musical performances and singing of male musicians. Women were also absent from the travel that took place in this period to make records abroad–for example, the trips to Paris in 1907/1908, London in 1909/1910, and Tbilisi in 1914/1915. Recording the music and voices of Iranian women on shellac records began in 1912/1913, during the reign of Ahmad Shah Qajar. The records from this period were the first recordings of music performed by Iranian women, which were also publicly distributed.

    From the 143 records produced at this time, 77 of them featured women’s voices, including the following female singers: Iftikhar (29 records), Amjad (23 records), and Zari (25 records). There are no biographies of these singers but since some sources mention other female singers without mentioning the names of these three singers, it appears they were not well-known before the production of these records.

    According to the catalogue for surviving records, Iftikhar Khanum was the first female Iranian singer, whose voice was recorded in Avaz-i Bayat-i Turk (5-13141).

    These recordings are performances of songs performed in Persian systems of musical modes (Dastgah) and ballads by ‘Arif Qazvini with nationalistic themes, which were unprecedented in the history of music recordings in Iran. It seems that female singers were among the first to perform ballads that addressed critical and political themes in the years following the Constitutional Revolution; for instance, “Tasnif-i Hingam-i May” by Zari (14-12581) and “Tasnif-i Shustar” by Iftikhar (14-12564) and by Amjad (5-13161); both poems were by ‘Arif Qazvini.

    For more information about the music of this period and the records, refer to: Bahman Kazemi, Wahraz Pour Ahmad, and Mehdi Farahani, Gulbang-i Sarbulandi, Tehran: Farhangistan-i Hunar, 1389 [2011]. [The back of the book’s translations of the title and publisher are: Call of Honor, Iranian Academy of the Arts.]; Bahman Kazemi, Mehdi Farahani, and Wahraz Pour Ahmad, Musiqi-i Iran dar sadah-i guzashtah, Tehran: Farhangistan-i Hunar, 1390 [2012]. [The back of the book’s translations of the title and publisher are: Iranian Music in the Past Century, Iranian Academy of the Arts.]

  • Dates Early-20th
  • Date Acquired February 2015
  • Last Edited 24 October 2017
  • Record Number 15156
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