These days the spread of coronavirus has forced us to comply with requirements such as no visit to crowded centers, using these signs to show devotion to the Imam has become more effective. Today, when the conditions for attending his shrine are not met, we fly the pigeons of our hearts in the sky of his shrine through the images of social networks, TV channels and even photos.
But have you ever wondered by whom and when the first image of the shrine of Imam was taken? Although all the photos are lifeless, the photos of the dome and the abode of our Imam have their own story. They bring life and refresh the soul and you can find this even in the black and white photos of the Italian man from the shrine.
From Shahroud and Damghan to Toos and finally to the holy shrine
His name is Antonio Giannuzzi, a man from Naples, Italy, who instructed at the Nizam School in Iran many years ago, during the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah of Qajar dynasty. We don’t know much about his life, but do not doubt that Giannuzzi was an Italian art lover and artist who was thrilled to see every beautiful sight, and then, regardless of time and place, he started to work with his old companion, his camera, to immortalize that scene.
This astute man lived on this planet not more than 60 years, yet the effect of his beautiful and special view can be seen among the pages of old photo albums in various museums in the country, such as Golestan Palace and the History Museum of Astan Quds Razavi.
We also do not know what his origin was and when he started photographing. No information either is available on his family and his grandchildren if any. But what does this matter in the face of the grandeur and value of the photographs he took on his travels and missions from different cities of our beloved homeland?
The masterpiece and spectacular photographs of Giannuzzi from the shrine of Imam Reza (AS) make his name lasting in the history of the country’s photographers. The matter becomes more important when one finds out that his camera has the honor of immortalizing the first images of the Imam’s shrine from the dome and its related buildings in the history of the country.
Aqa Reza Akkasbashi, the Shah’s special photographer, who traveled to different cities on his orders and photographed buildings and sights, not sooner than seven years after the spectacular photographs of this Italian artist, passed through Khorasan and Toos, and took his first photographs from this holy land.
And this puts the photographs of Giannuzzi from the shrine, Goharshad Mosque, the tomb of Pir Palanduz, Mosalla Mosque, etc., among the first historical photographs of these religious places.
What’s remarkable about Giannuzzi’s photographs is his artistic perspective from the camera’s point of view, and his attention to points such as the visual documentation of cities and buildings, and the use of people in most of his work to show the scale of the building to the viewer.
Giannuzzi presents a complete album of these photographs, each framed with beautiful and attractive initiatives with colored cardboard to the Shah, who had a strange interest in photographs and photography. As a year before that, Luigi Pesce, a Dar al-Fonun school officer, presented a complete collection of photographs of Persepolis to the court.
Thus, Antonio Giannuzzi’s photo album is included in the list of lasting works of Golestan Museum, so that the greatness and glory of the Eighth Imam, by an Italian man and after many years, finds meaning with his photographs, and high status of that compassionate Imam, to be passed on to future generations.