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Hijab in Ancient Iran

By Mahboubeh Gandom Abaadi (A Seminary Graduate and Lecturer)

Iranian women had coverings in different eras such as Median, Achaemenid, Parthian and Samanid periods. The existing evidences indicate that in ancient Iran hijab was common, among the Jews and probably in India, and even it was stricter than what Islamic rules have prescribed.  Commenting on Jewish people, Will Durant says:

If a woman violated the Jewish rules; for instance, she went out among people without head cover or if she span thread on public roads or if she  had chat with different classes of the society, or if her voice was so loud that her neighbors could hear her when she was talking at her home, her husband was allowed to divorce her without paying her dower (marriage portion).[1]

In Zoroastrianism, women had a very high status and they could cheerfully and freely come to public places. But after Darius, woman’s status declined especially among the rich classes of the society. Poor women, however, kept their freedom since they had to work in the society. For other women, the seclusion during menstruation, which was necessary for them gradually continued till it overshadowed their whole social life. The upper-class women were not allowed to come to public places unless being carried in their litter; they were even not allowed to visit their fathers and brothers since after marriage they were regarded as namahram (non-related men). Thus, considering the survived historical reliefs of ancient Iran, there is not any face or sights of women.


[1]  Durant, Will (2001) Heroes of History: A Brief History of Civilization from Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern Age. New York: Simon and Schuster. Translated into Persian by Abu-AlQasim Mazaheri, Franklin and Iqbal Publishing Center: Tehran, the fourth book, Era of Faith, the third part: The Era of Greatness.

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