Music as an Instrument of Modernization and Legitimacy in Iran during the Era of Naser ud-Din Shah (1848-1896)
Author/s: Akın Kiren
OnlineFirst published on August 20, 2017
Year: 2017 Vol: 37 Number: 1
Monarchies of the 19th century needed certain symbols and practices to modernize their societies and solve the issues of legitimacy confronting them. In Iran, these symbols and practices were implemented in a comprehensive and programmed manner during the era of Nasir al-Din Shah (1848-1896), who ruled the country for approximately a half century. To empower his authority in the eyes of society and to integrate the state with the people, the Shah used certain signs and symbols such as flags, anthems, emblems, and medals, in addition to activities such as rituals, celebrations, ceremonies, parades, and commemorations. In this context, music also had a very important function in making and building a new image. The official attitude of the Qajar administrations towards music had changed since the beginning of the 19th century. In works written during those years, authors discussed music and referenced the musicians of the Court. Particularly in the era of Nasir al-Din Shah, however, the Court and notables supported developing music themselves. Nasir al-Din Shah can be said to have taken music under his protection, and his reign is also remembered as the time when Western music entered Iran. Meanwhile, this period also coincides with the time music found a chance to play an active role in Ta’zieh ceremonies.