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Qajar Period, Iran
19th century
Size: 10.5 x 7.2 cm
Sold at Bonhams auction

This mirror case is of rectangular form with removable cover, decorated in polychrome and gilt with a spray of roses to the reverse, a perching parrot to the cover and a male couple in an erotic embrace to the interior, the borders with a frieze of scrolling floral vines.

As seen on this Qajar era mirror case, one of the male partners is middle aged while the other one seems to be a minor. Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and practices within different cultures. The status of pederasty has changed over the course of history, at times considered an ideal and at other times a crime.

In Islamic Persia, according to Wikipedia, boy love flourished. The  frequent use of the pederastic ideas in Persian art and literature had long become a norm. Western travelers reported that at the court of Shah Abbas I of Safavid Dynasty (some time between 1627 and 1629) they saw evidence of homoerotic practices. Male houses of prostitution called Amrad Khaneh, "houses of the beardless", were legally recognized by the government and paid taxes to the state.

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  When I first posted this article I was not certain where to place it. Now as an after  thought, and upon  closer looking the “victim” in this image is not the Gay, but what appears a very young  boy  (minor). So I have moved this article to the Child Victims section

 The above Image is one of the most shocking I have seen ( alas !, I have become insensitive to all  violent images), because of it,s casual depiction of pederasty and what could be classed as pedophillia.

Below are some extracts from the Encyclopedia Iranica

a sharp contrast exists between the treatment of homosexuality in Islamic law and its reflection in Persian literature, particularly poetry (the chief vehicle of Persian literary expression)


The “beloved” (q.v.) in Persian lyrics is, as a rule, not a female, but a young male, often a pubescent or adolescent youth, or a young boy. No sense of shame, no unease, no notion of concern for religious prohibition affects the exuberant descriptions of the male beloved or the passionate love displayed by the poets for him. There are many poems by classical and later poets which explicitly address a boy (pesar) as the subject of the poet’s love, as illustrated by the following examples from different periods:

O boy, if you want to gladden my heart / You must give me kisses after serving me wine (Ey pesar gar del-e man kard hamiḵᵛāhi šād / Az pas-e bāda marā busa hami bāyad dād; Farroḵi [d. 1038] Divān, p. 46).

O boy, you carry the business of beauty beyond all limits / With such beauty you expect me to bide my time? Impossible! (Ey pesar nik ze ḥadd mibebari kār-e jamāl / Bā čonin ḥosn ze to ṣabr konam? In’t moḥāl; Natáanzi, quoted by Šams-e Qays [13th century], p. 326).

A beau with a candle in hand is an affliction / (A beau) heavy-headed with love’s slumber and intoxicated with wine (Fetna bāšad šāhedi šamʿi be dast / Sar gerān az ḵᵛāb-o sarmast az šarāb; Saʿdi [d. ca. 1290], Ḡazaliāt, p. 15).

This boy who stood up walks gracefully / He is a cypress walking so straight! (Ḵoš miravad in pesar ke barḵāst / Sarvi’st ke miravad čonin rāst;Saʿdi, Ḡazaliāt, p. 25).



In Persian love lyrics, however, one can hardly find the kind of homosexual relationship that is understood in the modern West; love is a one-sided and asymmetrical affair. As a rule, it is between an adult male and a boy or youth. Therefore, it should be characterized more properly as pedophilia, and its physical aspect as pederasty, rather than described under the more nebulous concept of homosexual love. In a number of poems the beloved is actually called kudak orṭefl,i.e., a child, a young lad, or a minor, e.g.:

I love silver-bodied, ruby-lipped children. / Wherever you see one of them, call me there (Dust dāram kudak-e simin-bar-e bijāda-lab / Har kojā z’išān yeki bini marā ānjā ṭalab;Farroḵi, Divān, p. 5).

O beautifully clad child, silver-bodied and ruby-lipped, / the substance of charm and gaiety, envious houries in pain from you! (Ey kudak-e zibā salab, simin-bar o bijāda-lab / Sarmāya-ye nāz o ṭarab, hurān ze raškat bā taʿab; Anvari, apud Šamisā, p. 80).

What choices have I, if I should not fall in love with that child? / Mother Time does not possess a better son (Del bedān rud-e gerāmi čekonam gar nadaham / Mādar-e dahr nadārad pesar-i behtar az in; Hafez, Divān, no. 396).

My sweetheart is a beauty and a child, and I fear that in play one day / He will kill me miserably and he will not be accountable according to the holy law (Delbaram šāhed o ṭefl ast o be bāzi ruzi / Bekošad zāram o dar šarʿ nabāšad gonahaš).

I have a fourteen year old idol, sweet and nimble / For whom the full moon is a willing slave (Čārdah-sāla boti čābok o širin dāram / Ke be jān ḥalqa be guš ast mah-e čārdahaš).

His sweet lips have (still) the scent of milk / Even though the demeanor of his dark eyes drips blood (Bu-ye šir az lab-e hamčon šekaraš miāyad / Garče ḵun mičekad az šiva-ye čašm-e siahaš; Hafez, Divān, no. 284.)

In many poems the poet-lover describes himself as a fatherly figure to the beloved, and indeed a homosexual may take a catamite into his home and care for his well-being and education (acting as a ‘sugar daddy’). A case in point is that of Amir Yusof and Toḡrol, related by Bayhaqi in his History (pp. 329-31): Ṭoḡrol, a rare beauty was sent as a gift to Sultan Maḥmud from Turkestan; he was serving wine at one of the court’s drinking sessions when Amir Yusof, Maḥmud’s brother, became enamored of him. He was overcome by wine, and his gaze remained fixed on the boy. Maḥmud realized the situation and, though not amused, made a gift of the boy to his brother, who took charge of him and raised him as a son. Years later, at the instigation of Maḥmud, who had become suspicious of Amir Yusof’s intentions, the youth spied on his lover and lord and facilitated his downfall.

An instructive description is found in a qasida by Iraj (d. 1925) addressed to a boy on the threshold of puberty which begins with the line:

Be mindful o jolly boy that next year / Your lifestyle and your affairs will change (Fekr-e ān bāš ke sāl degar ey šuḵ pesar / Ruzegār-e to degar gardad o kār-e to degar; Divān, p. 21), and in the course of which he describes in minute detail what an adult homosexual could do for his catamite. In a poem (p. 29), of which the first line was quoted before, he talks about a boy whose father is a hindrance to the poet’s amorous desires and says:

If his father should die, there is no cause for sorrow and mourning / I am alive; I will take care of him better than his father (Gar bemirad pedaraš jā-ye ḡam o mātam nist / Zenda’am man, benavāzam ze pedar ḵubtaraš).

In order to secure a fatherly position over the boy, he goes so far as to say:

So that people would not say what I have to do with another person’s son / I would marry his mother and shall become his father (Tā naguyand torā bā pesar-e ḡēyr če kār / Mādaraš rā be zani giram o gardam pedarašDivān, p. 29).



Not only Muslim boys were the subject of homoerotic desires, but so were boys from minority groups, more particularly Zoroastrians boys (mōḡ-bača) serving in taverns and Christian ones (tarsā-bača), sometimes belonging to convents; for example:

If the wine-serving mōḡ-bača would shine in this way / I will make a broom of my eyelashes to sweep the entrance of the tavern. (Gar čonin jelwa konad mōḡ-bača-ye bāda foruš / ḵākrub-e dar-e meyḵāna konam možgān rā; Hafez, Divān, no. 9).

Earlier, from piety I would not look at wine and entertainers / It was the love of mōḡ-bačas that introduced me to both (Man az varaʿ mey o moṭreb nadidami zin piš / Havā-ye mōḡ-bačagān-am dar in o ān andāḵt;ibid., no. 17).

mōḡ-bača, a thief of hearts and faith, was passing by / To follow that friendly face he [the Sufi] ceased knowing anyone else (Mōḡ-bačaʾi migozašt rāhzan-e din o del / Dar peye ān āšnā az hama bigāna šod; ibid.,no. 165; see also no. 413; for other examples see Ṣadiqiān, under, moḡ-bača).

Well said that idol of a wine-serving Christian boy / Drink to the health of those who are sincere (Nāḡz goft ān bot-e tarsā- bača-ye bāda-foruš / Šādi-e ruye kasi ḵᵛor ke ṣafāʾi dārad;ibid., no. 119).

A Christian child suddenly attacked my heart and my soul / The love of his tresses scandalized me throughout the world (Tarsā bačeʾi nāgah qaṣd-e del o jānam kard / Sowdā-ye sar-e zolfaš rosvā-ye jahānam kard; Attar, Divān, p. 158).

Zangi relates that a Sufi novice (morid) could not be inspired by Sufi ways, no matter how his mentor tried, until he fell in love with a Christian boy (tarsā bača), and only then did he become receptive to the ideal of divine love (Nozhat al-ʿāšeqin, pp. 150-51).

In the following line Iraj obviously refers to a young lad, as the rest of the poem makes clear:

His father has said that he should not mix with me / I am dying from grief; may God send death to his father! (Pedaraš gofta ke bā man nanešinad pesaraš / Mordam az ḡōṣṣa, ḵodā marg dahad bar pedaraš; Divān, p. 29). 

Thanks for relocating this Shiva.  I agree: Child Victims is the correct category for this.


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