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Masked Women of Minab Market – Iran

The Minab market is a unique mix – even to my well-traveled eyes.

It’s the way women dress: colorful hijab scarves or black chador cloaks, yet more intriguing are their bird-like masks.

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These masks originate from Arabia.

It’s said they were adopted by Arabian women to thwart the advances of Portuguese slave traders some centuries ago.

And it’s this attire – along with the different ethnic faces, which reveals something of Minab’s history; once a trade hub on a route linking Iran (Persia) with Arabia, Pakistan and Africa.

Today, the Minab market is every Thursday.

The “Panjshambe Bazaar” attracts people from all over the Hormozgan region of southern Iran. Languages spoken include a Minabi dialect of Farsi, alongside 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.

But again, 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”.

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

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Many 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.

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I 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.


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