The Masked Women of Minab Market – Iran

The cultural mix of the Minab market is unique – even to my well-traveled eyes.

The first thing you notice is the way women dress – it’s either colourful hejabs or black chadors.

Yet the most interesting sight are the bird-like masks that some women wear.

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The masks originate from Arabia. And this female attire – along with the different ethnic faces – reveals something of Minab’s history. For centuries, it was on a trade route linking Iran (Persia) with Arabia, Pakistan and Africa.

The market in Minab is held every Thursday.

The “Panjshambe Bazaar” attracts people from all over the Hormozgan region of southern Iran. And amid the Farsi dialect of Minabi, other languages spoken here include Arabic and Urdu.

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Wandering the market, I encountered friendly faces (and many shy and surprised ones too). But this woman was the brightest star. Not only to did she allow me to photograph her, she also offered me a puff on her pipe. Which I accepted; she was smoking tobacco.

It’s the women of Minab that make the market an attraction.

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These women wanted a photo of the baby only, until I showed them the image on camera. Amazed – by technology, they then posed for me, giggling, enjoying the attention of onlookers. Everyone seemingly, bewildered by this “event”.

Photographing people in conservative Islamic societies is often difficult. (Likewise tribal Africa and indigenous Andean cultures).

masked-woman-minab-iranMany remain wary of cameras and strangers.

And being a foreign male in an Islamic country (and without a local fixer) often means the best photos are never taken.

woman-with-box-on-head-minab-market-iranI shoot discreetly in public places but ask permission for conventional portraits.

When asked by local folks why I photograph I answer. I am not a professional. I won’t sell your image.

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The objective of my photos – hobby aside – is to take pictures to counter my fading memories. And also to share my travels with other people. That’s you, readers 🙂

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Women with shopping leave the Minab Market.