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Friday, 6 January 2017

Persian Diplomat Uniform

Hardly seen on the market a Persian uniform in an outstanding shape. A small dealer closed his business and I was only looking for the chest embroided ones. There where none but then he came with this uniform. It was Persian so much was clear, but the story behind the uniform was not clear at all. The dealer told me that he bought the uniform from Serné and Sons, Tailors, Amsterdam, Holland. The uniform was left at the tailor by it's owner around 1920 and he never collected it again. Serné opend his doors in 1866 and closed them in 1990. So the uniform was stored for 70 years waiting for this rightfull owner who never showed up.

The story leaves some questions. The uniform has three labels. Two are from Serné and the other one reads: DONNY, PAVILLON DE ROHAN, PARIS. Donny was the leading European tailor for Civil Uniforms. The house Donny presented it self as 'Specialité de Livrées'. And that means civil uniforms with rich embroidery. Donny, for some unkown reason to me, closed his 'Maison' around 1910. On the other hand the label of Serné is intersting too for the Dutch Coat of Arms shows two lions who are looking you straight in the eyes. The crest was alternate by law of 1907. By then the lions are facing en profile.

This means that the uniform was made in Paris before 1907. The button has a Qajar Coat of Arms. The tail of the lion had to be a S shape according a decree from 1910. The lion on the button has a straight tail. So this all indicates a uniform before 1907.

What had Serné to do with a Paris made Persian uniform before 1907 and kept it till 1990? There are some repairs to the uniform. Not on the outside but on some places the interior has other silk. Clearly it was damaged and Serné repleced some pieces. So before 1907 a Persian diplomat gave the uniform to Serné to repair the silk. The uniform is not from an ambassador. Those uniforms has the bottom side diagonal also embroidered. So it could be a Resident Minister or General-Consul. I found two pictures on the web that are close to the uniform.

Persian diplomat Ali Kuli Khan, 1913, Washinton D.C., Getty Images
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Minister Samad Khan Momtaz (middle), Persian diplomatic delagation 1910.
The man first left on the second row wears a similar uniform.
Samad Khan was minister for the Netherlands till 1905. After that he became extraordinary and Plenipotentairy Minister in Paris. Did Samad Khan leave his uniform to Serné in Amsterdam to repair and had no need for it when he became one step higher which acquired a more elaborate uniform? That would be nice but we will never know.
But there is something else. The Dutch had Persian General-Consuls situated in Amsterdam. Rich merchants who became honorary consuls. There where three of them during that period. From 1889 till 1902 Herman Hesse, from 1902 till 1906 A.M. de Block and finaly from 1906 till 1919 J.P. Nord Thomson. Why is this interesting? I found a picture of Nord Thomson wearing a General-Consul uniform of Persia.
Joseph Philip Nord Thomson (1859-1942)
That means that also non Persians where allowed to wear a Persian diplomatic uniform. It is a different uniform as we look to the embroidery so the uniform is not of that of Thomson. Then we have Hesse and Block left. I have no pictures of them so everything is still possible.
Some details of the uniform.

Holding the belt on place


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