Taj Saltaneh (1883 – 1936) was a Persian princess and memoirist of the Qajar Dynasty, a daughter of Naser al-Din Shah, the King of Persia from 1843 to May 1896 by his wife Turan es-Saltaneh.
She was married to Amir Hussein Khan Shoja’-al Saltaneh and had four children, two daughters and two sons. They later divorced. She was the love interest of the Persian poet Aref Qazvini, who wrote his poem Ey Taj for her.
Taj Saltaneh was a trailblazer for women’s rights in Iran and a feminist. She was a prominent founding member of Iran’s underground women’s rights group Anjoman Horriyyat Nsevan or Women’s Freedom Association (the Society of Women’s Freedom), working for equal rights for women circa 1910.
She was a writer, a painter, an intellectual and an activist who hosted literary salons at her house once a week. She was the first woman in court to take off the hijab and wear western clothes.
Her memoirs were published under the title of Crowning Anguish: Memoirs of a Persian Princess from the Harem to Modernity 1884 – 1914 (1996), edited with a preface by Abbas Amanat and translated by Anna Vanzan and Amin Neshati. They were well received, the Times Literary Supplement describing them thus: “In somewhat unusual and cumbersome style, Taj’s memoirs, written in 1914, cover a thirty-year span of a rapidly changing era […] A curious blend of the reconstructive and reflective, Taj al Saltaneh’s memoirs bring home the intense conflicts of a life straddling the harem and modernism.” (March 4, 1994)
She is buried in the Zahir od-Dowleh Cemetery in Tajrish. Her life and her writing and her role as a feminist is a subject of Middle Eastern studies in universities from Tehran University to Harvard.