ʿAKKĀS-BĀŠĪ, EBRĀHĪM (family name later, Moṣawwer Raḥmānī), photographer and pioneer motion-picture cameraman, b. Raǰab, 1291/August, 1874, d. 1333/1915. Mīrzā Ebrāhīm’s father, Mīrzā Aḥmad Ṣanīʿ-al-salṭana (b. 1264/1848), converted to the Bahaʾi faith and corresponded with ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, who named him Moṣawwer Raḥmānī “the divine illustrator.” He left Iran secretly in the company of Moʿayyer-al-mamālek, Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s son-in-law, and spent seven years in Europe learning photography, porcelain-making, and engraving; in July, 1884, he became a member of the Grand-Orient de France Masonic lodge. On his return to Iran, he served as Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah’s chief photographer (ʿakkās-bāšī). At the age of fourteen, Mīrzā Ebrāhīm accompanied his father to Europe and also studied photography and engraving. On his return to Iran, he was posted to the court of the crown prince, Moẓaffar-al-dīn, at Tabrīz. After coming to the throne, Moẓaffar-al-dīn gave the sister of his wife, Zīvar-al-solṭān Ṭaḷʿat-al-salṭana, in marriage to Mīrzā Ebrāhīm and conferred on him the title ʿakkās-bāšī (farmān dated Jomādā II, 1315/December, 1897). On the shah’s first visit to Europe in 1317-18/1900, Mīrzā Ebrāhīm accompanied him as photographer. On July 8 during his stay at the French spa of Contrexeville, the shah had his first taste of cinematography (Avvalīn safar-nāma, pp. 100-01) and ordered ʿAkkās-bāšī to buy and use a Gaumont motion-picture camera. ʿAkkās-bāšī set about his task and, among other things, filmed the flower festival at Oostende in Belgium on 21 Rabīʿ II/18 August (Avvalīn safar-nāma, p. 160). Undated letters written by Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah indicate that after ʿAkkās-bāšī’s return to Tehran he was ordered to film the lions at the royal zoo at Faraḥābād and the Moḥarram processions in the Sabza-maydān (F. Gaffary, Le cinéma en Iran, Tehran, 1973, p. 2). These first Iranian films are lost. ʿAkkās-bāšī appears to have been not only the first Iranian cameraman, but also the first to project films at the royal court and in private homes. He accompanied the shah on his second journey to Europe in 1320/1902; all photographs in the shah’s two travel diaries are by him. He brought back with him a movable-type printing press and founded the Ḵᵛoršīd printing firm in Tehran. He wrote, translated, and printed many books on such matters as ethics, sports, and housekeeping. After Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah’s death he left the court and devoted most of his time to farming land which he owned with his younger brother, Taqī Khan Ṣanīʿ-al-solṭān, near Karaǰ; occasionally he gave film shows at his home to friends. He moved to Gīlān for further farming and eventually died there in 1333/1915. He had a son and four daughters, one of whom, Maʿṣūma, became the wife of Jaʿfar Pīšavarī, the Iranian communist leader. 


Documents in the possession of the Moṣawwer Raḥmānī family.

Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah, Avvalīn safar-nāma, Tehran, 1319/1901, pp. 126, 146.

Idem, Dovvomīn safar-nāma, Tehran, 1320/1902, p. 36 and captions of photographs.

Badāyeʿ-e waqāyeʿ-e noḵostīn safar-e Moẓaffar-al-dīn Šāh, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971, pp. 4, 48, 68, 69, 86, 104.

F. Ḡaffārī, “Avvalīn āzmāyešhā-ye sīnemāʾī dar Īrān,” Maǰalla-ye ʿālam-e honar, no. 25, Mehr, 1330 Š./September-October, 1951.

(F. Gaffary)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, p. 719

Cite this entry:

F. Gaffary, “ʿAKKĀS-BĀŠĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, p. 719; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/akkas-basi-ebrahim-family-name-later-mosawwer-rahmani-photographer-and-pioneer-motion-picture-cameraman-b (accessed on 25 April 2014).