The subject of this remarkable collage is Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, ruler of Iran from 1848 to 1896, his ladies, the princes and princesses and their eunuchs. There are also some studies of nudes, which may show European or Armenian women. It gives a fascinating insight into the domestic life of the Shah showing him in some remarkably informal poses. In a few photos the royal camp of Lar near to Tehran is shown. In the fourth row is shown the Queen Mother (Mahd-e Olya).
Photography was introduced into Iran in the 1840's and enthusiastically taken up. It was introduced into the Dar al-Funun programme in 1860. One of the most renowned photographers was Nasir al-Din Shah himself, who produced a considerable number of albums including photographs of his wives and concubines in erotic poses. It is likely that he was behind many of the photgraphs in this montage.
These small format photographs are known as carte de visite and were invented by a French photographer called Disterie. The small photograph was glued onto a carboard which usually measured about 9.5 x 5.5cm. The collage is made up of many of these photographs stuck straight onto a sheet of paper without the card. This manner of displaying photographs is known from the time of Muzaffar al-Din Shah, although not during the reign of Nasir al-Din Shah himself.