Institute for Iranian
Contemporary Historical Studies
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The History of Unveiling Procedure
Niloufar Kasra
Throughout the historic age, Iran plateau had a natural structure and the country was a bridge between the East and the West; therefore, the various nations and diverse people invaded to this land. Every nation, which attacked on Iran, had a specific culture and belief. Then, it could create severe pressures on local and traditional culture.
In ancient times, the Iranian nation believed that the women should be latent and private. The people worshiped the god and goddesses in a high purity and sanctity and after accepting Islam, they emphasized more on women latency. The land has been faced with various pressures. The Mongol invasion was an obvious example to show the pressures on women that they had to enter into public communities with no veil and coverage, but after arriving of various religious and Shiie reigns such as Sar be daran and Safavian, it was canceled and the Iranian women appeared in society with the same previous cover.
The Qajar era was the first era which Iran was encountered to the West closely. The Iran nation experienced the first defeat of the West in the war between Iran and Russia and inevitably, learned the combat and science system. The Iran and Russia wars could develop the Iran relationships with the world, because Iran was unaware to the world situations due to the civil wars. On the other side, Iranian could recognize the western lifestyle, when they sent students to abroad to achieve new sciences and arts. The foreign relations with Iranian effected on the men cover and gradually, they used the blouse and leather shoes.
The women indoor clothing changed after traveling of Naser al- Din Shah to the Europe and gradually, it spread from the royal Harem to the rich house and other classes. But the women coverage in the society remained unchanged (veil, mask) till Constitutional revolution. The Iran political developments had an impact on the women community after the Constitutional revolution. Especially, the diverse political Parties had focused more on the women education and improving their appearances and status. They thought that one of those main factors which civilized a country was the presence of women in the society and the basic obstacle was the traditional lifestyle and the type of clothing. Thus, they criticized of the women presence at home and asked them to present in the community. Therefore, a latent and continuous procedure created among modernists who expressed the women's liberation from captivity. They asked women to present in the society and spoke about the veil.
In Reza Shah Era, anyone who knew the Western culture as the most important factors, assumed the key positions and sensitive duties of the country. They thought the country modernization policy was the administrative, economic, cultural and social areas.
At the first stage of the cultural renewal policy was the changing of men clothing. With legislation of 1307, but clergymen class, all Iranian people had to wear a foreign hat which was known as Pahlavi hat.
The law enforced in public and private agencies and the city and gradually, the number of people who were using the clerical dress reduced. In 1934, Reza Shah traveled to Turkey and his attitude changed toward the Western clothing and other patterns. He decided to compensate the lags by communication to Turkey and this country was the criteria and the development pattern for Reza Shah. After returning to Iran, he changed the Pahlavi hat to Shapou hat which was the international hat. During 1934 to 1935, he did the widespread advertising to prepare people for unveiling and little by little, the veil was banned in the schools and different celebrations. On May 1935, Reza Shah ordered to all ministers, managers, directors and the government staff to present with their wives in Iran Club One night a week. He ordered Hekmat, The culture minister, the teachers and girls had to be unveiling in the girly schools and if they refused, they could not come to school.
On the other side, Reza Shah ordered some of teachers who formed a community and created the Women's Liberation Movement by the government supporting. The community was named as" the Women Club".
On October 1935, when Shah returned from Mazandaran to Tehran and asked a question about the veil progress and success, the education minister answered:" Now the young girls go to school happily but the old women are dissatisfied and the only education action is not sufficient and you must do a serious action in the country's great families. If you do it yourself, people will obey".
Eventually, on January 5, 1935, in the building of the Tehran great Danesh Sara was held a celebration with Shah and his family to award the graduates Diploma to them. The school heads and the senior members' wives with the Shah's wife and daughter appeared in the ceremony without veiling and this day was named as the Women's Liberation and Unveiling. Thereafter, there were several celebrities and the high- ranking military officials, the departments'' heads and the staff participated with their unveiled women. On the other hand, the coverage of women such as tent, mask and etc. removed forcibly in a violent act by the security forces across the country.