When Haroun was fourteen, his father, a silk trader, passed away in Ghomisheh, 20 miles from Esfahan. Haroun brought his body home on a donkey. Taking up the family trade, he supported his family from then on. One night in his army barracks, his commanding officer overheard Haroun singing to himself. When asked why he was singing such a sad song, Haroun replied that he missed his wife and children. The officer vowed that he would get Haroun sent home if he sang for the soldiers every night. Haroun agreed, and the officer kept his word. He was known as “Adele” (Farsi for “righteous”) by the people across Esfahan who would come to him to mediate family disputes. His trade kept him on the road many months, but eventually he would always follow the letters he constantly sent to his wife back home, with gifts for her and their nine children. The home of Haroun and Doolat was the center of town; always a celebration. Haroun raised two large families through two world wars before religious friction forced his family to leave first their hometown, then their country. Nobody can remember him ever once complaining about anything. Haroun is responsible for the majority of the people in these photographs.
In the 1970s, the site of the former Persian Empire was a worldwide business and pleasure destination. Were it not for the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Caspian Sea might today be mentioned on par with Paris as a tourism hotspot; Tehran in the same breath as London as a financial center. Before The Chador documents two Jewish Iranian families through the 30 or so years before the government told people how to dress, before home became prison, before fear became part of the Iranian heart and soul. This exhibit is dedicated to my grandfather Haroun, a man fear never beat.
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