A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Muzaffar al-Din Shah in Europe, 1900-1905: Earliest Film and Audio of a Middle Eastern Ruler?

Muzaffar al-Din Shah Qajar
Just under a year ago I wrote about the several visits of the late 19th century Iranian ruler Nasser al-Din Shah to Europe ("Friday Nostalgia for Rouhani's Visit: Nasser al-Din Shah's European Tours").

But Nasser al-Din Shah was not the last Qajar Shah of Iran to frequent European capitals. After he was assassinated in 1896, his son and successor Muzaffar al-Din Shah (1853-1907, Shah 1896-1907) also did so. Though today remembered mostly for his extravagant mustaches and for driving the country into debt that led to the Constitutional Revolution, he also was fascinated by technology.

More importantly, Thomas Edison had intervened. The Shah was fascinated with the cinematographe, and brought the technology back to Iran. More to the point, the first videos of the Shah on his European tour must be among the earliest videos of any Middle Eastern Ruler, unless there are earlier of the Ottoman Sultan. And the invention of early audio recording had also occurred, so there is even a recording of the Shah's own voice (in Persian, of course.)

This post at iroon.com explains what you are about to see:
Massoume Price writes: I think you would like this short documentary on Mozzafar ed-Din Shah's travels to Europe. All photos, most never seen before are from the private collection of Joachim Waibel in Vancouver BC. They even include newspaper drawings on attempt to assassinate him in Europe. Needs to be published more widely.
Below is a commentary from a friend with relevant information Dr.Tissaphern Mirfakhraii:
Excellent rare photos and films from Mozaffareddin Shah's travels in Europe. He visited Karlsbad, Ostend, Contrexeville, London, Paris, and Berlin. His host in London was Prince Arthur, Duke of Kent. Among his entourage photographed were Ataabak Amin os-Soltaan, Sa'd od-Dole, Shams ol-Molk, Vakil od-Dole, Hakim ol-Molk, and Moxber os-Saltane. There was also an assassination attempt on the Shah's life, shown in some of the photos.
The still photos are interspersed with extremely early moving pictures, cartoons and headlines of the day, and in the last minute plus you will actually hear a voice recording of the Shah himself.

If you know of earlier video of a Middle Eastern leader (not camels in the desert) please post in the comments.

This is the first I've ever seen of most of this.

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