masked women minab iran

Masked Women of Minab Market – Iran

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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.


Masked Women of Iran – Watch the Video


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.

masked women city mural iran
Mural of masked woman on streets of Minab in southern Iran.

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.

The weekly market at Minab is held every Thursday

maked woe

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.

Iranian  women with baby minab
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”.

But again, it’s the women of Minab that make the market an attraction.

masked women smoking waterpipe iran
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.

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

masked women food vendor minab market

Many remain wary of cameras and strangers.

masked women minab iran

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

masked women black and white

I shoot discreetly in public places but ask permission for conventional portraits.

masked women market vendor iran 2

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

Women with shopping leave the Minab Market
Women with shopping leave the Minab Market.

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 πŸ™‚

Travels in Iran – 2011


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