Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

Scenic and decor design is one of the most important elements of a performance. This importance is so important that even without any explanation, the audience can easily understand the life of a character in a movie or series. But how much elements made in Iran or foreign countries should be used in the stage design of an artistic work is perhaps a matter that needs to be examined more carefully. When a production group intends to take the audience to the heart of history with them, they must bring the previous years to life for the audience with the utmost elegance, first through the atmosphere and stage components.

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

Scenic and decor design is one of the most important elements of a performance. This importance is so important that even without any explanation, the audience can easily understand the life of a character in a movie or series. But how much elements made in Iran or foreign countries should be used in the stage design of an artistic work is perhaps a matter that needs to be examined more carefully. When a production group intends to take the audience to the heart of history with them, they must bring the previous years to life for the audience with the utmost elegance, first through the atmosphere and stage components.

Because of interest. which has arisen especially in recent years among film and series makers in the reconstruction of history, the role of stage design has gained special importance in these works. Among these works, a large number deal with the contemporary history of Iran; It means stories about the last 100 years. Over the years, due to the influence of Europe and America in Iran, vehicles, furniture and clothes have gradually left the completely traditional state and found a combination of western and Iranian style. This issue raises the importance of paying attention and the correct position of Iranian handicrafts in the design of scenes. Because preservation of these arts has become a family mission for families in the midst of the presence of western devices in Iranian homes. Most of our grandmothers still have fabrics, dishes or rugs that have been passed down from generation to generation and they are trying to preserve them. But do the stage designers pay attention to this issue in creating the atmosphere of theatrical works? Or they simply add anything that evokes a certain period of history to the scene.

One of the most famous series of contemporary history that we have witnessed in the last few years are the three series "Shehrzad", "Khatoon" and "Secret Network". Women" is on the home show network. All of them have impressive and acceptable scene designs, which have greatly helped the series process in terms of aesthetics and atmosphere. But all three of these collections tell stories of the historical transition and the maximum presence of Westerners in Iran. An era when transistor radios and Polish chairs were introduced into homes, tulip candelabras and traditional pots were still spread next to them. But how much have these collections adhered to the correct display of the decor of Iranian houses in historical periods? And how prominent is the role of Iranian handicrafts in these series? These are the questions that we will answer here with a case study of these three collections.

1. Shahrazad

The "Shaherzad" series was one of the first popular products of the TV show network. A series that looked at a period of Iran's contemporary history, i.e. the middle years of the 30s, with a romantic look. This decade was considered one of the most important and controversial years of the reign of Pahlavi II, and along with family issues and showing an unconventional love triangle, political events were also included in the story of "Shaherzad" series. This series was released on the newly known platform of the home theater when the new Turkish satellite channels were advancing in all aspects of Iranian life. On the other hand, at that time, i.e. the first half of the 90s, the previous half-baked productions of the home show network did not leave a good name for this media in the minds. Therefore, the "Shaherzad" series should have used the necessary color and glaze to attract the attention of the audience in addition to the plot tension and the strong cast. Due to the reasons mentioned and also the historical story of this series, stage design became especially important in the making of this series. Majid Mirfakhrai was chosen as the first choice for the stage design of this series, and after that, Hassan Roohparori continued this responsibility in the second season.

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

In the three seasons of the "Shaherzad" series, there were three fixed locations, that is, the house of Boorugagha, the house of Jamshid, and the Shirin Billiard Club. In the second season, Hashem Agha House and Behbodi House starring Reza Kianian were added to other domestic locations of the series. These places were mostly the main character's house and their arrangement was considered based on the social status of the people. The house of Boorgh Agha, which was the main location of the series and also the most detailed, showed the audience the interior design of the series more than other locations. But the important thing about this location is that most of the tools used in it were European. From the velvet-embroidered steel sofas to the English desk that was in the room of Mr. Diwansalar. The velvet curtains were more reminiscent of the houses of European aristocrats at that time. In this house, we rarely saw Iranian fabrics or even lighting devices made in Iran. Instead, most European design lampshades were seen. Perhaps the only item that was chosen among Iranian handicrafts for the nobleman's house was the Iranian carpets that were spread in the large and luxurious rooms of this house. Only in one part of it, when Shirin, the eldest daughter of Agha, gives a woman's veil, we see some elements of Iranian handicrafts in the decor, such as carpet backs, frames and cups made of Iranian porcelain, and silverware.

Traditional backs with carpet designs

It should not be ignored that the stage designer sometimes made a mistake in choosing the right equipment. For example, the design of the steel sofas in the master's bedroom or the double bed in this room are both designs that were produced and used in Europe and even Iran many years after this era.

In other locations. Like Shahrazad's father Jamshid Khan Saadat's house and Hashem Khan Damavandi's house, because they are from a lower level of society, a different arrangement method was used. In these houses, where more traditional items are usually seen, the use of Iranian handicrafts can be clearly seen. For example, in Jamshid Khan's house, small hand-made handkerchiefs, including needlework and crochet, can be seen on most windowsills, radios and tables. Or as home decoration, tulip lights are used more than external lampshades. Pushtis, which are actually mostly used in Iranian culture as a device in living rooms, can also be seen in these houses. Kalamkar tablecloths and rose plates are other Iranian handicrafts that are used in the stage design of this series.

The traditional tulip lamp of Kalamkar tablecloths

Although the set designer changed after one season in this series, Hassan Ruhparori was committed to the work of the previous designer. Only because of the changes that happened in the story, for example, Qobad becoming the head of the house of the great gentleman or the presence of the aunt in that house, there were changes in the details of the arrangement, which of course still adhered to the same European structure. But in general, perhaps the most impressive thing among Iranian handicrafts in this series is the carpets that can be seen in this collection. Perhaps, when an image from the heart of Iran's history is going to be published, there will be a greater need to use handicrafts. But this topic is not very prominent in Shahrazad series.

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

2. Khatoon

The "Khatoon" series, directed by Tina Pakrovan, was one of the popular historical series of the TV show network. The series dates back to a decade before Shahrazad. Its story takes place in the last days of Reza Pahlavi's reign and the occupation of Iran by Russia and England. In that historical period, due to the influence of Germans in Iran, many items, textiles and decorations of aristocratic houses were arranged with German decoration. But the "Khatoon" series, with the successful stage design of Amin Ashairi, was not supposed to enter the homes of the capital's elites. In the first few episodes of the series, the story takes place in a village near Rasht, where the son of one of the Khans owns a large and aristocratic house. The 20th century is still not so far away that those who were present at that time have all passed away, so you can easily ask some elders if at that time, the house of a khan in the village was all foreign. The answer is definitely no. But the set designer of "Khatoon" series has used completely European furniture in all the rooms of this house to make Colonel Shirzad Malek's house look more aristocratic. Inlaid wooden sofas, honey tables of European design, wardrobes, dressing tables taken from English magazines, etc. are all items that do not have the slightest hint of Iran's handicrafts, especially Gilan, where the series takes place.

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

Perhaps in a few short scenes we see the silver earrings in which Shirazed's mother put her tea cup and maybe they can be attributed to Iranian handicrafts. During the entire time that the story of the series is told in Gilan, only two locations outside Khan's house, namely the Khan's concubine's hut and the castle where an old woman named Qadrat lives, show some Iranian handicrafts. Of course, it is also limited to a few hand-woven wicker baskets, which cannot be a complete symbol of the rich handicrafts of that region.

But after the end of the series in the Gilan region and Khatun's escape to Tehran, the story enters another phase. . Now there is no news of any aristocratic houses and all the accommodations, except Persia Hotel, are in poor houses and places. The strange thing about "Khatoon" series is that most of these houses do not have an interior view. For example, in Reza's sister's house, or Reza's employer, throughout the series, we only see outside spaces, the yard or finally a warehouse. An issue that made the scene designer's work easier and he didn't have to deal with the details of the poor houses of that time. In the meantime, Persia Hotel is another fixed location of the series, where, due to the western style, there are no elements of Iranian handicrafts.

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

We enter his father's house in Tehran in a part of the "Khatoon" series. A noble house that has nothing to do with his father's militant and communist personality. In this house, there are mostly European items and maybe the only carpets are selected from among Iranian handicrafts. In just a few short sequences, the characters enter the kitchen of this house, and some pickle jars, copper bowls and plates, and copper and nickel pots, from Iranian handicrafts, are brought to the audience's eyes. That the design of the serial scene "Khatoon" is one of those memorable and colorful designs that will remain in the mind of the audience long after the end of this collection, but the lack of Iranian handicrafts is strongly felt in it.

3. Secret Women's Network

Afshin Hashmi's first series on the home show network attracted the attention of a part of the audience who were interested in history from the very first days of its broadcast. Even though this series has been subjected to excessive censors these days and even this week it has been prevented from airing for unknown reasons, but from the point of view that we have dealt with home show series, that is, stage design, it is one of the most detailed and important series. Is. "Secret Women's Network" is based on a true story about the formation of a women's party in the 1310s. This series shows the peak days of British and German influence in Iran. But in this series, like the previous two series, we are faced with two types of locations. Noble houses and lower middle class houses.

The house of Mirza Mahmoud's first wife, the main character of the series, is a large old aristocratic house, full of antiques. With the difference that the set designer of the series, Majid Lilaji, has tried to establish a balance between old fashioned furniture and Iranian handicrafts. For example, we don't see foreign velvet curtains in this house, instead, we use zarbaft fabrics with an Iranian bate-jaqeh pattern in the curtains. Or in another example, on the dressing table of Mirza Mahmoud's wife, which is a European design table, there is an old Iranian silver and an Isfahan inlay box. But on the other hand, the bed, the candelabra and the clock on the window sill are all European. Of course, along with these design subtleties, sometimes bugs are also seen in the decor. For example, Mirzam Mahmoud has a separate vanity in his house with gold water faucets and a mirror above it, which does not belong to the 1310s and entered Iranian homes a few years later.

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

One of the other internal locations of this series is the Palace of the Ministry of Education, where the minister works and sleeps as if in the same place. The decor of this building is completely European and in some cases it is even ahead of the time of the story of the series. For example, we see so-called touch sofas in this location, or lampshades that were fashionable just a few years ago. On the other hand, the wall papers of this palace are much more modern than to evoke the year 1310. But the chess table, the bookcase, and the boards have all helped to create a better atmosphere.

The second fixed location of the "Secret Network of Women" series is the house of Mirza Mahmoud's second wife. A completely Iranian house, as if with this arrangement they intended to point out that this woman's class is lower than that of Mirza's first wife. In this house, which is mentioned in the series as being on the Oudlajan side, everything from the beds to the kitchen appliances and even the storage furniture is Iranian. Hand-embroidered bed covers, Iranian carpets, enamelware, red flower pots, kashsabi vases, etc. are all items that immediately bring the audience into a completely traditional Iranian atmosphere.

Other locations in the series are mostly offices and public places. Locations that follow the West even in the smallest details. Maybe because in those years Reza Pahlavi was looking for western modernization and the government places under his command showed more interest in westernism. In addition, Mirza Mahmoud sometimes visits his third and fourth wives, who have much poorer houses than his second wife. But elements of Iranian handicrafts can be seen in most of them. Items such as handmade wicker baskets, glass jars, stone mortars, copper pots and...

BingMag.com Decor with Iranian handicrafts in 3 series “Sherzad”, “Khatoon” and “Secret Network of Women” focusing on contemporary history

In general The series "Secret Women's Network" because it insists more on expressing historical details, therefore it shows the audience a more realistic form of stage design at that time. A form that is a combination of Iranian and Western handicrafts in homes. However, an important point has been neglected in all the decor and stage design of the three series that we mentioned. The point is that there are items in Iranian handicrafts, such as silver tapestries, mirror embroideries, calligraphy fabrics, etc., which have a great material and spiritual value, and by the way, in the past, there were more than these in the homes of nobles, and these elements indicate a higher order. He was the owner of the house. However, according to the investigation of the case that was done, it seems that the stage designers insist on making aristocracy based on the use of western equipment as much as possible and consider Iranian handicrafts for the lower class.

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