Beyk Imanverdi

Tribute to the Late Iranian Actor Reza Beyk Imanverdi رضا بیک ایمانوردی

This article is a short tribute to the late Iranian actor رضا بیک ایمانوردی Reza Beyk Imanverdi  (1936-2003).

Beyk ImanverdiPortrait of the late Iranian actor رضا بیک ایمانوردی Reza Beyk Imanverdi (1936-2003) in the 1970s (Picture Source: WhatsUpIran). Imanverdi was an incredibly talented actor expressing his range from comedy all the way to drama, musicals and action pictures.

Imanverdi also starred in the 1960s Franco-Italian genre action movies and was popular among the European casting agencies. one notable picture was: Sedia Elettrica (The Electric Chair) (1969) – directed by Demofilo Fidani.

Imanverdi performs and sings with Jamileh in the movie Kaj Kolah Khan -كج كلاه خان- Jamileh was one of Iran’s most notable performers and dancers of the 1960s and 1970s; the song is actually sung by Iranian pop singer GooGoosh who remains a favorite in not only Iran but also in the Caucasus and Central Asia. (with special thanks to Video Markazi for originally posting this).

Imanverdi and acrtressUndated screenshot (1976?) of Imanverdi and Iranian actress (Source: Ghadimiha).

Imanverdi performs a traditional  song by Iranian singer Iraj (whose actual voice is dubbed on the above film). the song is of the shared Perso-Turkish or Persianate style in a movie entitled “معجزه” [Mojeze-Miracle]. This genre of  music can be heard not just in Iran but also in the streets of Istanbul, Turkey with Turkish lyrics.

فاتحین صحرا-Film Release.jpgImanverdi in one of his action roles in the movie«فاتحین صحرا»[Victors of the Desert] in 1971 which was later dubbed into English and released in the early 1980s as “Treasure of the Lost Desert” (Sources: Public Domain & Facebook).

Excellent documentary video by Sohrab Akhavan on Imanverdi (see Sohrab Akhavan’s works at FilmeXmedia). Note the powerful sense of optimism displayed by the man even into his later years. This clip had been produced by Sohrab Akhavan in 2002, just one year before Beyk Imanverdi passed away.

Imanverdi in later yearsImanverdi in his later years (Picture source: ActorsBiography).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe late Imanverdi’s resting place (Picture source: Elizabeth Fox).


Kate Ravilious: World’s Oldest Leather Shoe

The article below by Kate Ravilious, “World’s Oldest Leather Shoe Found—Stunningly Preserved“, was reported originally by the National geographic Daily News on June 9, 2010.  about the world’s oldest leather shoe discovered in Armenia. The discovery of the world’s oldest known leather shoe was funded by the National Geographic Society, the Chitjian Foundation (Los Angeles), and Joe Gfoeller of the Gfoeller Foundation, the Steinmetz Family Foundation, the Boochever Foundation, and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.

Kindly note that a number of photos and the video did not appear in the original National geographic report.


A Manolo Blahnik it isn’t.

Still, the world’s oldest known leather shoe, revealed Wednesday, struck one of the world’s best known shoe designers as shockingly au courant.

It is astonishing,” Blahnik said via email, “how much this shoe resembles a modern shoe!

Stuffed with grass, perhaps as an insulator or an early shoe tree, the 5,500-year-old moccasin-like shoe was found exceptionally well preserved—thanks to a surfeit of sheep dung—during a recent dig in an Armenian cave.

About as big as a current women’s size seven (U.S.), the shoe was likely tailor-made for the right foot of its owner, who could have been a man or a woman—not enough is known about Armenian feet of the era to say for sure.

oldest-leather-shoe-armenia_21449_600x450The world’s oldest known leather shoe (pictured) has been found in an Armenian cave, archaeologists say (Photo Source: Gregory Areshian & National Geographic Daily News).

Made from a single piece of cowhide—a technique that draws premium prices for modern shoes under the designation “whole cut”—the shoe is laced along seams at the front and back, with a leather cord.

Ron Pinhasi, co-director of the dig, from the University College Cork in Ireland, explains:

The hide had been cut into two layers and tanned, which was probably quite a new technology,” .

Yvette Worrall, a shoemaker for the Conker handmade-shoe company in the U.K., added:

I’d imagine the leather was wetted first and then cut and fitted around the foot, using the foot as a last [mold] to stitch it up there and then.”

The end result looks surprisingly familiar for something so ancient—and not just to Blahnik.

Shoe-Armenia-Excavation Team-UCLAA member of the research team at the excavation site in Armenia; the actual cave is situated in the Vayotz Dzor province of Armenia, on the Armenian, Iranian, Nakhichevanian and Turkish borders (Photo Source: GoodNews).

“It immediately struck me as very similar to a traditional form of Balkan footwear known as the opanke, which is still worn as a part of regional dress at festivals today,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, a curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada.

I thought, Wow, not so much has changed.”


Oldest Leather Shoe Shows Stunning Preservation

Radiocarbon dated to about 3500 B.C., during Armenia’s Copper Age, the prehistoric shoe is compressed in the heel and toe area, likely due to miles upon miles of walking. But the shoe is by no means worn out.

Shoes of this age are incredibly rare, because leather and plant materials normally degrade very quickly.

But in this case the contents of a pit in the cave, dubbed Areni-1, had been sealed in by several layers of sheep dung, which accumulated in the cave after its Copper Age human inhabitants had gone.

The cave environment kept it cool and dry, while the dung cemented the finds in,” said Pinhasi, lead author of the new study, published by the journal PLoS ONE Wednesday.

Details of the Leather shoe-Armenia

[Click to Enlarge] Close-up details of the leather shoe discovered in a cave in Armenia (Photo Source: GoodNews). The 5,500 year old (perfectly preserved) shoe, the oldest leather shoe of its type in the world, dates back to approx. 3,500 BC (Chalcolithic period). It was made of a single piece of leather and  shaped to fit the wearer’s foot. The shoe is 1,000 years older than Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza.

Why Was Oldest Leather Shoe Made?

Protecting the foot was probably one of the main reasons people started wearing shoes, and certainly this seems the case for the world’s oldest leather shoe.

Around the Armenian cave, “the terrain is very rugged, and there are many sharp stones and prickly bushes,” said University of California archaeologist and study co-author Gregory Areshian, who was partly funded by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

Furthermore, shoes like this would have enabled people to cope with extremes of temperature in the region—up to 113°F (45°C) in summer and below freezing in winter—and to travel farther.

These people were walking long distances. We have found obsidian in the cave, which came from at least 75 miles [120 kilometers] away,” he said.

Blahnik, the shoe designer, speculates that even this simple design was worn for style as well as substance.


The leather shoe hand-held by a researcher at the excavation site. As noted in the UCLA Asia Institute report, the Armenian leather shoe was a European size 37 or women’s size 7. As noted Dr Ron Pinhasi, University College Cork, Cork, “as while small (European size 37; US size 7 women), the shoe could well have fitted a man from that era.” The shoe was found stuffed with grass (Photo Source: UCLA Asia Institute).

The shoe’s function was obviously to protect the foot, but I am in no doubt that a certain appearance of a shoe meant belonging to a particular tribe,” said Blahnik, who knows a thing or two about expressing identity through attire. “I am sure it was part of the outfit which a specific tribe wore to distinguish their identity from another.”


Not the World’s Oldest Shoe

Previously, the oldest known closed-toe shoes were those belonging to Ötzi, the “Iceman” found in the Austrian Alps in 1991, who died around 5,300 years ago. (See “Iceman Wore Cattle, Sheep Hides; May Have Been a Herder.”)

Sandals meanwhile, have an even longer history, with the oldest specimens, dated to more than 7,000 years ago, discovered in the Arnold Research Cave in central Missouri.

The wearing of shoes, though, is almost certainly older than the oldest known shoes. For example, a weakening of small toe bones found in 40,000-year-old human fossils has been cited as evidence of the advent of shoes.

Compared to Ötzi’s shoes, the world’s oldest leather shoe is strictly bare-bones, according to Jacqui Wood, an independent archaeologist based in the U.K., who studied Ötzi’s shoes and who said the new study’s science is sound.

The Iceman’s shoe was in another league altogether,” Wood said. “Each base was made from brown bearskin; the side panels were deerskin; and inside was a bark-string net, which pulled tight around the footBy contrast, the Armenian shoe is the most basic of shoes and was probably made worldwide once people decided not to walk about in bare feet.” (See pictures of the Iceman.)

It’s true that similar shoes have been found at other sites and from other times, but study co-authors Pinhasi and Areshian think it’s plausible that the style originated in Armenia.

Pinhasi notes:

Many other inventions, such as wheel-thrown pottery, cuneiform writing, and wool production evolved in the ancient Near East…And so Armenia may give us the earliest clues to a ‘prototype’ shoe, which later spread to Europe“.

Rebecca Shawcross, a shoe historian at the Northampton Museums & Art Gallery in the U.K., said:

You can certainly make a case for this shoe [design] being a forerunner to the North American moccasin, which has gone on to be a popular shoe style, whose influences can be seen in shoes of today—deck shoes; soft, slipper-style shoes for men; and so on.”

The “Astonishingly modern” shoe has been preserved by sheep dung, dryness and stable temperatures of the Armenian cave in which it was discovered. This invention of the shoe allowed humans to better protect their feet over rough terrain, against extreme heat and cold and to travel over longer distances.

Beyond the World’s Oldest Leather Shoe

With the moccasin mystery largely solved, the study team has plenty more puzzles to solve in Areni-1.

Along with the shoe, the ancient sheep dung had sealed in the horns of a wild goat, bones of red deer, and an upside-down broken pot.

Pinhsi said:

It is a strange assortment of items…and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some symbolic meaning“—a meaning that could be revealed as summer, and a new dig season, dawns at Areni-1.


Dmitri Ermakov: Chronicler of the Caucasus

The article below and its pictures on Georgia in the 19th century Caucasus was originally written and posted in the Poemas del Rio wang Website.

Kavkaz-13-Kafkaz MapMap of the Caucasus dated to 1856 by cartographer J. Grassl: “Karte des Kaukasischen Isthmus” (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang). Note that the region of the southwest Caucasus above the Araxes River known as “Azerbaijan” since May 1918 was not identified as “Azerbaijan” in historical records or maps. Instead, there are various khnates in the region, identified as Sheki, Lenkoran, Shirwan, etc. The historical Azarbaijan (or Azerbaijan) is located to the south of the Araxes River in northwest Iran.

The article below by the Poemas del Rio wang Website pertains to the works of Dmitri Ermakov (1846-1916) in the Caucasus during the 19th century.

Kafkaz-3Dmitri Ermakov (1846-1916) (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).


This story usually starts being told where some other great stories begin: along the Nile and in the Holy Land, with the photographers who from 1840 onwards provided from here, the most popular East the European audience with albums, and later the participants in the Victorian Grand Tour with post cards representing the local attractions. We will also tell about them later. For now, however, we start the story along the less known Russian thread, with the masters who started taking pictures in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also reached Persia and Anatolia. Among them, if not the earliest, but one of the most influential photographers was Dmitri Ermakov from Tiflis (1846-1916).

Kafkaz-1-Tiflis-Shiite MosqueErmakov’s Tiflis: The market place (Maidan) of the old town with the Shiite mosque and the old bridge over Kura (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Tiflis (from 1936 Tbilisi), “the jewel of the Caucasus” which had belonged for centuries to the sphere of Persian culture and came under Russian suzerainty only in 1801, with its mixed Armenian, Azeri, Georgian, Persian, Russian, German, French population – of which we will write more later – was a unique cultural, political and commercial bridge until as far as 1917 between Russia, Western Europe and the Middle East.

Kafkaz-2-Tiflis-Shiite MosqueAnother (closer) view of the market place (Maidan) of the old town with the Shiite mosque and the old bridge over Kura (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

We have mentioned, that the satirical journal Molla Nasreddin which inspired a large number of similar publications from Tehran to Bucharest, was founded by an Iranian Azeri editor-in-chief, illustrated by two local German cartoonists and edited by an international board in Turkish (Azerbaijani) and sometimes even in Russian in Tiflis between 1906 and 1917. The roots of Ermakov were similarly complex. His father, Luigi Cambaggio was an Italian architect, and his mother a well-known pianist from an Austrian-Georgian family who later adopted, together with her son Dmitri, the name of her second, Russian husband.

Kafkaz-4Water mills along the Kura at the time of the flood of 1893 (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Ermakov graduated from the military topographic academy in Ananuri, a hundred kilometers north from Tiflis. There he got his first introduction into photography which in the 1860s was already a regular part of the curriculum at military academies. Shortly afterwards, in the early 70s he opened his own photographic studio in Tiflis, on the Dvortsovaya which by this time had become the street of photographers. It was here that in 1846, only seven years after the invention of photography, Henrik Haupt opened the first studio of Georgia, and here worked the “Rembrandt” studio of the greatest contemporary Georgian photographer A. Roinashvili as well. Most probably Ermakov also took over an already working studio, that of Ivanitsky, opened in 1863.

Kafkaz-5The Dvortsovaya in the 1870s (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Shortly after the opening of the studio Ermakov already became a member of the Société française de photographie, the most prestigious European society of photography. We do not know who nominated him for membership into this society which operated with a strict admission policy. What is certain is that for the 1874 Paris Biennale he already sent 17 pictures, all of them from the Black Sea coast city of Trebizond (Trabzon) in Turkey. By that time he probably also had a studio there, as a lot of photos of him have survived from this region and period.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAZeli-Sultan, son of the Shah of Persia in Austro-Hungarian military uniform (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

By the end of the 70s he was widely considered as a renowned photographer. He won awards in many exhibitions in Moscow, Italy, Turkey and Persia. He regularly took photos in the Persian court and of many Persian aristocratic families, and he was awarded the title of the court photographer of the Shah of Persia.

In the court gallery of the Shah of Persia there are a large number of paintings representing the Shah himself: in their majority, mediocre works. In these days, however, we had occasion to see a large half-length portrait of the Shah, painted by the Tiflis artist Mr. Kolchin on the basis of the photography by Mr. Ermakov. Whoever previously saw any portrait by Mr. Kolchin, Shishkov, Korganov or Penchinsky, will not be surprised by the brilliant quality of this portrait. Soon, this picture will be delivered to the Court of Tehran where, it seems, this will be the first Russian piece of art.”

– wrote in 1884 the Tiflis newspaper Kavkaz. This news sheds an interesting light on a typical application of late 19th-century photography: that it served as a model for portrait paintings, thus saving long hours of sitting for the model of the portrait. Ermakov even had a common atelier with Pyotr Kolchin for a while in Tiflis, just as one of the greatest Istanbul photographers, Pascal Sébah made model photos for the fashionable Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey.

Kavkaz-9Georgian officers in Tsikhisdzhiri tale a pause during the Russo-Turkish war (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Ermakov’s reputation and military training gained him the appointment of the official photographer of the Caucasian front in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78. As his photos were considered military documentation, they have not been available for more than a century. The National Archives of Georgia published a few of them only in the late 90s. Ermakov’s passion and specialty, however, was ethnographic photography. He made long trips to the most remote valleys of the Caucasus, in Central Asia and Anatolia where he was the first to take photos of the inhabitants of villages of different nationalities.

Kavkaz-10Men from the Georgian mountains (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Taking into account the needs of contemporary technology, the huge camera, the large – usually 50×60 cm sized – glass negatives preferably used by Ermakov and the mobile dark room, these excursions were veritable expeditions with mule caravans and tent camps, and moreover mostly in mountainous terrain where it was not a simple task to organize a military expedition either.

Kafkaz-10Women from the Georgian mountains (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Ethnographic photography was not only a passion, but also a good business investment for Ermakov. For the St. Petersburg and Moscow social circles the Caucasus was since Pushkin and Lermontov the exotic East, the land of unspoiled, noble simplicity and mysterious strangeness, just as Northern Africa was for the contemporary Western European artist. The unimaginable ethnic diversity of the Caucasus was illustrated from the beginning of the century in a large number of engraved and lithographic albums for the educated audience. Over the years, Ermakov published a hundred and ninety two similar albums with his own photos about the ethnic groups, villages and towns, roads and monuments of the Caucasus. In his printed catalog he advertised himself, as early as the turn of the century, with an astonishing photo stock of 25 thousand items.

Kavkaz-11A photo of the military road in Georgia (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

However, what captures today’s viewer the most in the photos of Ermakov is his attention to the model not as an ethnographic curiosity, but as a person; an attention that suspends the distance in time and culture and creates a relationship between us and the model; a sensitivity which has been the privilege of only a few photographers, then like now.

Kavkaz-14Fur hat traders in a Tiflis bazaar (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

After the death of Ermakov in 1916 his complete huge photographic material was purchased by the University of Tiflis, from where later it got to the Tbilisi State Museum. The following decades were not favorable to their publication. No album, monograph or important exhibition has been made of them, as far as I could investigate. Some of the photos sold by him to the West were eventually exhibited in the 1990s, but I know of no catalog of them. His original albums are a rarity even in the large libraries. We only know some hundreds from his legacy of several thousand photos. Once it will be made public, it will be a huge sensation.

Kavkaz-12A Turkish man from Georgia (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

The son of Ermakov, the first Russian psychoanalyst died in 1941 in prison as a victim of the Stalinist purges. Ermakov’s great-grandson lives today in Moscow. He is a designer and photographer, and a good photographer at that. In his blog he occasionally publishes some scanned photos from the heritage of his great-grandfather. This is one of the most important source of the pictures shown here.

Kavkaz-15An Iranian man from Georgia (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

Another important source is the collection of the New York Public Library, more precisely the legacy of George Kennan digitized by them. George Kennan was the first American in the 1870s to travel across the Caucasus, where he purchased lots of pictures from local photographers. They include some from Ermakov as well, sometimes marked with his name by Kennan, while in other cases their provenience is attested only by the characteristic captions printed in small Cyrillic. Most probably a number of other contemporary legacies also include photos purchased from Ermakov.

Kavkaz-16Princess Lazareva (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

A third source is the site of Rolf Gross who in the 1980s lectured in Tbilisi. Having made friends with the director of the museum, he received some test prints of Ermakov’s photos made for local exhibitions and calendars, which otherwise would have finished in the waste-paper basket. Now, after twenty years he published them on the internet. A part of them is known from elsewhere, but about twenty pictures were published by him for the first time.

Kavkaz-17A Jewish man from the Southern Georgian Akhaltsikhe region (Source: Poemas del Rio Wang).

We tried to place on the following map of the Caucasus the almost three hundred photos by Ermakov that we managed to collect, but this is an evocative background rather than a precise localization, for most of the available pictures are from Tiflis. And even the scenes represented on the majority of them do not exist any more. The bazaar, the Shiite mosque, the famous bridge of the Maidan, the most beautiful and most characteristic buildings of old Tiflis were all destroyed. Today you can find the atmosphere of Ermakov’s photos only in the Avlabari neighborhood, from where we have not many photos by him. Of old Tiflis, however, we have a large collection of photos both by him and by others. We would like to publish them by linking each to the respective point of a fin-de-siècle map of the city, in this way reconstructing the old Tiflis that has gone.

Tehran 1848 to 1864-6

Photos of Old Tehran: 1848 to 1864

Below are photos of Old Tehran dated to 1848 to 1864, originally posted in the Vintage Everyday website. Readers are also referred to the “Maps and Photos of Old Tehran 1826-1900” posting.

The photos have been cited as the first and rare photographs of Qajar Iran by the Italian photographers Louis Montalbone (1827-1877) and Luigi Pesce (1827-1864). Despite the excellent and professional quality of their works, neither Montalbone nor Pesce have been deservedly appreciated in the European fine arts and photography arenas.


Tehran 1848 to 1864-1The Royal Palace (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-2The Citadel (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-3The Bazaar of Tehran (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-4Portal of The Mosque (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-5Soldiers of the Qajar era (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-6Sellers peddling their wares (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-7Qajar prince (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-8Imperial Qajar throne (Source: Vintage Everyday).

Tehran 1848 to 1864-9Imperial palace in Tehran (Source: Vintage Everyday).

1-Citroen-half Track

Armored Vehicles of the Iranian Army 1921-1941

Below are a number of rare photographs of the Iranian army ranging from (circa) 1921-1941. The acquisition of heavy military equipment (as displayed below) and the formation of more modern units based on armored vehicles in the 1921-1941 period is discussed in Farrokh’s third text Iran at War: 1500-1988 in pages 264-266 (accompanying footnotes in pages 443-444).

Iran built up its forces of armored combat vehicles and tanks during the interwar years between World War One and World War Two. Among the first wheeled military vehicles to formally enter service with the Iranian army were the sturdy old British Rolls Royce India (1921) Pattern armored cars armed with Vickers machine guns.

3-Rolls Royce-Armored carsVery rare (if weathered) photograph of the four Rolls Royce armored cars in Iranian army service delivered to Iran in 1924. Note the rounded copula. The vehicle was armed with the Vickers .303 machine gun. The sturdy Rolls Royce may have been used by the Iranian army to disarm tribal rebels in Iran’s south and southwest (Picture Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilization to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran:Entesharat-e Iman, pp. 1045).

Iran’s first half-track vehicles were the French-built Citroen (half-tracked) vehicles.

1-Citroen-half TrackIranian army personnel on maneuvers with what appear to be French made Citroen half-tracks. According to Matofi, these were the first half-tracks to enter service with the Iranian army in 1925 (Picture Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilization to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran:Entesharat-e Iman, pp.1045).

Augmenting Iran’s non-tracked vehicles were the more potent American made LaFrance TK-6 armored car armed with a 37cm main gun and two machine guns of unknown caliber. It is still not clear how many TK-6 types were in Iranian service.

4-American LaFrance TK-6American made LaFrance TK-6 armed with a 37mm main gun and two machine guns, built for the Iranian army in 1933 (Picture Source:

Iran also made a special order of Marmon-Herrington armored cars which were delivered by the mid-1930s.

Marmon-Herrington-Armored Car[Click to Enlarge] The Marmon-Herrington company designed the above 12 armored cars on specific requirements outlined by the Iranian army. Note that these vehicles have been equipped with a Landsverk type turret which is armed with a Bofors 37mm gun (Picture Source: Marmon-Herrington Yahoo Groups).

Another Iranian armored car was the M-H.

M-H Iranian Army[Click to Enlarge] The M-H (1934 series) armored car in Iranian service; twelve of these served with the Iranian army (Picture Source: Network54).

At the eve of the Second World War, Iran possessed a force of 102 non-tank armored vehicles. The first tanks (fully tracked – not half tracks like the Citroen cited earlier) to arrive into Iran were the French FT-17 light tanks in 1925. These were armed with the 7.92 mm machine gun.

8-FT17-Brazil-1921A French-made FT-17 light tank delivered to Brazil in 1921. Iran was to receive its FT-17s four years later (Picture Source: Public Domain).

The FT-17 was followed in delivery to Iran by the US-made Marmon Herrington which was also armed with machine guns.

5-Marmon Herrington CTL1A Marmon-Herrington CTL1 (built in Indianapolis, USA) in Iranian service. Note the absence of any heavy gun on the vehicle which was armed with just a single machine gun.  Iran possessed 12 of these vehicles by 1941 (Photo Source:

By the onset of World War Two, Iran had less than 200 tanks, with one of the most modern of these being TNH light tanks armed with the 37mm gun. The TNH was highly popular among the Iranian armored corps as well as the Iranian public, who were impressed by these during army parades. Fifty TNH light tanks and fifty AH-IV tankettes equipped the first and second armored divisions (each equipped with 25 TNH and 25 AH-IV [discussed below] respectively). Up to 300 more of these had been ordered by Iran but these never arrived after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in August 1941.

6-TNH light tankThe TNH light tank of the Iranian army first delivered in 1937. Note the Sherman tank (delivered to Iran after World War Two) behind the TNH (Photo Source: (Picture Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilization to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran:Entesharat-e Iman, pp.1134).

Another type of the most modern tanks in the Iranian army inventory before World War Two was the Czech built AH–IV. The AH-IV like all orders delivered by the Czechs to Iran was built specifically to satisfy Iranian specifications. The tanks themselves were manufactured by the Skoda Company with the machine guns built by Skoda’s competitor, Zbrojovka Brno. Iran was to also use large numbers of Brno rifles which were manufactured locally under license (For more on the Brno click here…).

7-AH-IV-TanketteAn AH-IV tankette engaged in practice drills in a Tehran barracks in the 1930s. Note the TNH light tank in the background (Photo Source:

Despite the rise of the armored corps, cavalry remained Iran’s primary weapon of rapid attack and maneuver. This was because Iran’s armored forces had not yet been able to assume the primary role in such operations. For this to evolve, the Iranian army needed to form a professional cadre of officers cognizant of the latest methods of European armored warfare. Iran did have numbers of such officers trained in European schools, but these could not advance to higher ranks due to overall problems in the upper echelons of command.