Surface work

Adriana Verejao’s 2018 Azulejao (Moon)

Surface work in Victoria Miro ‘s Mayfair gallery  “reflects the ways in which women have been at the heart of abstract art’s development over the past century, from those who propelled the language of abstraction forward, often with little recognition, to those who have built upon the legacy of earlier generations … to open new paths of optical, emotional …

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How to do hejab in Iran

Hejab always seems a big deal for women travelling to Iran. So I thought it might be useful to share what I myself wear. I’ve visited Iran multiple times during the last decade. And can still remember the challenges I faced the first time I went to Iran! So here’s some practical advice for any woman lucky enough to …

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Passion for Fashion in Tehran

Just in case you thought Iranian women weren’t stylish as well as gorgeous, here are some images of high fashion in Tehran. It’s especially hot in elite North Tehran. It used to be that Iranian women wanted Western fashions. Recently, though, there are more and more Iranian designers producing some great Iranian fashion, including Raada: And …

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Fighting hijab in Iran

As a foreign woman in Iran, the most common question I’m asked is: “What do you think about hijab?” I can often work out what answer I’m expected to give, simply by looking at whoever is asking. Some obviously pious women, usually without a single strand of hair showing, want to tell me how they have been liberated …

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Some Iranian women are actively choosing hijab

Although a lot of women (and men) despise the hijab in Iran, many like it, and are actively choosing hijab. Some of this is generational — the oldest women may be able to remember the forced unveiling of women by Reza Shah and how shocking that was: some women remained in their homes for months. Others …

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The 1979 demonstrations against Compulsory Hijab in Iran

Some well-known — and stirring — photos show large demonstrations in Iran against compulsory hijab, on 8 March 1979 and there are more photos here. But I just found a great colour video which make it clear the demonstrations continued for many more days: The Revolutionary spirit of the times is evident, with women declaring that …

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Hijab in Iran: the basics

The word hijab is often used, in the West, for the headscarf – but in Iran women over the age of 9 also need to cover their bum. The most common ways of doing this are with a manto or a chador. Manto are short or long coats: Many female Government employees wear long, loose …

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The Parted Lovers: a Bakhtiari poem

Two lovers dream of each other, and the land that both separates and unites them in this sensual poem.  When the warm weather comes, and the woman has gone off with the tribe to the ‘Cold Country’ (called sardsir, sarhador yelaq,). For the first time, the man has been left behind in the ‘Warm Country’ (garmsir), to …

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Factional fighting: a Bakhtiari poem

This ballard describes brave men and a gorgeous woman who were also included in  Henry Layard’s account of his 1841 sojourn and fighting alongside the Bakhtiari – shortly before he discovered Nineveh/Nimrud (see www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/bakhtiari-kuch/eet/layard/ for more information and images). The poem is about the battle between the Duraki and Behdarwand tribes. Ja’far Quli Khan was chief of …

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Mourning Chant: a Bakhtiari poem

This traditional lament shows the depth and strength of grief. It is said to be ‘very old’. Lorimer apparently originally recorded 24 lines, but only reported the first eight. He writes “It is said that after a man’s death his clothes are tied up in a bundle (buqca). Then, every day in the year that …

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