Academic journal article Asian Culture and History

Social and Cultural Images of Qajar-Iran Customs in European Travel Diaries

Academic journal article Asian Culture and History

Social and Cultural Images of Qajar-Iran Customs in European Travel Diaries

Article excerpt


One of the most important sources for studying the social and cultural situation of Qajar Era is the travelogues written by European travelers. The objective of present paper is to study reaction of European travelers to the customs of Qajar Era, compare customs changes of that period with current Era and identify factors affecting custom changes trajectory. Moreover, it is assumed that some of the European criticizes Iranian culture when faced their customs. Customs related to celebrations and mourning are changed significantly since Qajar Era and it is known that social and political changes along with globalization issues are effecting evolution of customs. The method of collecting the data of this study is library method and is based on analytical and descriptive method. While identifying and introducing an 8-factor model effective on culture change, the important role of social and cultural changes and globalization in culture change and changes of customs has been confirmed.

Keywords: Qajar Society, culture, customs, reaction, travels diaries

1. Introduction

A custom is anything which lots of people do, and have done for a long time. Usually, the people come from the same country, culture, time or religion. If something is usually done the same way, you might say that is the "customary way" of doing things. The meaning of culture is similar to the meaning of custom. A custom is more about practices, while culture is more about ideas or a group of customs. A custom overall is just similar to culture and culture means the way of life of a people (Custom, 2015).

Each nation and tribe has its own customs that are emerging in their happiness, sorrow, mourning and their mutual relations which are respected and valuable among that nation and it has social, cultural, and religious support. Customs are considered as the subsets of a culture and it is clear that development and evolution of society are drastically related to its cultural sublimity. As one of the civilized countries during the history, Iran is not an exception from this rule and has its own customs and traditions.

Foreign Affairs of Iran with European countries developed since Safavid Dynasty and lots of Europeans entered Iran with different aims such as political missions, tourism, to get familiar with Iran culture and etc. In Qajar Era for various reasons this affairs developed and entrance of European increased. Agha Muhammad Khan, which is the beginning of the Qajar Dynasty Era, has rarely seen any foreigner entering the country. The ruling period of Fath-Ali Shah was contemporaneous with emergence of Napoleon Bonaparte in France and his competition with United Kingdom; therefore, both countries noticed Iran, which was one of the paths towards India. They tried to strengthen ties with Iran through sending their ambassadors. Since this period, Europeans' entrance and their interventions in internal affairs of Iran increased. This process continued in Mohammad Shah period too. In that time, the issue of Herat Siege by Mohammad Shah that threatened British interests led to occupying of Kharg Island by them. Entrance of Europeans reached its peak in Nasir Al-Din Shah Era. Political purposes outweigh the other aims during pervious Era, but in this period, different purposes encouraged travelers to come to Iran. The time period between Mozafar Al-Din Shah ruling and Qajar Dynasty extinction too, some ambassadors had entered the country, which mostly had political missions. Most of these travelers and officers wrote their memories and their mission reports fully described and in detail. These reports can be categorized into Travel Dairies and biographies and mostly have become famous in the name of their authors.

The principal objectives of this study is to examine the reaction of foreigner travelers to customs and traditions, comparing changes of Qajar Era with current Era and also define and state effective factors in evolution of this customs. …

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