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Seeing Double: A Visitor from Persia

Seeing Double: A Visitor from Persia

American Museum of Photography

Seeing Double, Double Vision, Double Exposures, Trick Photography, Special Effects

Hendricks & Co. (Allegheny, Pennsylvania)
“Y. Y. Aurahan, Oroomiah, Persia”
Albumen print cabinet card, 1894
This 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?
Some 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
“Oroomiah” 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 the region. 
Urmia 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 1918.  So 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.

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