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“Doing” Belly Dance History – Persian Snap

Today’s Research Tip:
Create a list of museums with digital archives to use as a starting point for conducting image research.

Image: Qajar Dancer in the act of a “Persian Snap”
Located at The Met aka  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – View Here

One of the tools that I use when I’m conducting research is a list of digital archives.  This includes a wide variety of websites around the globe.  What I do is visit a location, like the Met Museum where this image is stored, and I poke around a bit to get a sense of the organization of the site, what the features are, and how these features work.  The Met Museum has digitized most of its collection and it is very robust, so it’s a great place to start. 

Formulate Your Research Question

But what is there to find at an art museum that can help with belly dance history research?  Let’s take a moment to look at this painting.  You might have seen and heard the “Persian Snap.”  If you are researching the branch of Middle Eastern Dance History that includes Persian dance, you might ask yourself, “When did Persian dancers start “snapping” in this manner?”  

While this painting doesn’t indicate a start date, it does offer documentation that it was in use by dancers in the courts of Qajar era dancers around the turn of the 19th century or 1800 – 1825.  So a dance historian can say with authority that Persian dancers have been snapping in this manner since before 1800.   As you dig around, you might find more images that can support pushing that date earlier. 

Build your Own Research Tools

If you are curious about what other archives I regularly turn to, I’ll be sharing my top 20 archival sites in the study guide that accompanies my next talk.  Interested in getting this little research handbook?  Come join Sara Shrapnell and I as I share my top tips for conducting interdisciplinary history research on the subject of belly dance.

“Doing” Belly Dance History

Saturday, March, 27,  2:00 pm PT
90-minute Digital Seminar
plus eBook study guide
Only $20
Click here to reserve your spot


I look forward to seeing you there!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
March 8, 2021


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