& Co. (Allegheny,
Y. Aurahan, Oroomiah, Persia"
print cabinet card, 1894
image presents a series of geographical puzzles.
Allegheny, Pennsylvania no longer exists... nor
does Persia... nor Oroomiah. And what, precisely,
is Mr. Aurahan trying to show us?
of these questions are easier to answer than
others. Allegheny, Pennsylvania is now known as the
North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Persia, of
course, is modern-day Iran.
does not appear on any current maps of Iran, but
there is a city called "Urmia." Located in
Northwest Iran, Urmia is the capital of West
Azerbaijan province. The city is near Iran's border
with Turkey, which frequently invaded and occupied
was also the seat of the first American Christian
mission to Persia (1835); by 1900 Christians made
up 40% of the population -- although most fled in
it may be that Mr. Aurahan was traveling to the
United States in connection with missionary work.
But what is the reason for the two different poses?
Perhaps the clothing provides a clue. There were
various ethnic groups in Urmia, primarily Kurds,
Armenians, and Azeris. An Iraqi-American of Kurdish
descent identifies the costume on the left as
traditional Kurdish garb, and the clothing on the
right as Turkish.