Remembering Massoumeh ‘Parvaneh’ Marzban, nee Mirfendereski

    [The following appreciation was submitted to Kayhan Life by the family of Mrs. Massoumeh ‘Parvaneh’ Marzban.]

Mrs. Massoumeh Marzban, wife of the late Ambassador Manoucher Marzban, passed away peacefully on the night of December 23rd, 2023.

Known by her nickname Parvaneh, Mrs Marzban was born in Gorgan, Iran, on January 17th, 1931, to Alieh (Olga) Jandieri, a Georgian aristocrat, and Javad Mirfendereski, a military commander. Creative and artistic from a young age, she was educated in Tehran, and attended university to study fashion and design, both of which served her well in her subsequent role as a diplomat’s spouse.

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Mrs. Marzban married her first husband, the late Ambassador Manouchehr Azima, in the early 1950s. Her first son, Ramin Azima, was born of that union.

In the late 1950s, she married Ambassador Manoucher Marzban. In 1958, Ambassador Marzban was appointed as Chief Minister for the Iranian Embassy in Japan. Mrs. Marzban took her role as the Ambassador’s wife seriously, highlighting modern Iran’s sophisticated and progressive reality, but also its rich and distinctive history.

In 1960, Ambassador Marzban became Chief Minister of the Iranian Embassy in Switzerland. Mrs. Marzban used this opportunity to showcase the depth and beauty of Persian culture. Her ability to speak French, English, and Farsi, and her understanding of Russian, combined with her natural charm to present an image of Iranian women that was in line with a fast-changing and modernizing world. In 1962, she had her second son, Manoutchehr Marzban II.

Ambassador Marzban was appointed as Iranian Ambassador to Thailand, Malaysia, and Laos from 1964-1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. It was in Bangkok that Mrs. Marzban made her greatest impression. With elegance, grace, and style, she set out to break the Western stereotype of the Middle Eastern woman, exuding confidence in her dealings with the press, and emphasizing that women in Iran were playing a key role as agents of change.

She had her third son, Massoud Marzban, in Bangkok in 1966. By 1968, she had become a well-recognized personality in Thailand, hosting government dignitaries, diplomats, and members of the Thai Royal Court at the Iranian Embassy. In the same year, Mrs. Marzban hosted His Majesty the Shah of Iran at the Iranian Embassy on his first official visit to Thailand.

Ambassador Marzban’s last appointment was in 1970 as Iranian Ambassador to Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Mrs Marzban used this opportunity to become close friends with Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland, and his wife, Princess Lilian. Mrs. Marzban continued to use her connections to fulfil her determination to show Iran as a positive global power.

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Mrs Marzban and her family, including her husband retired to London, UK, and later, to near Washington, D.C. where her children had settled as students. Her radiant personality continued to shine in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Gaithersburg Maryland, where many of her extended relatives had also settled including her immediate cousins and their children.

Mrs Marzban’s impeccable taste, elegance, and sharp wit, continued well into her early nineties. As did her love for playing bridge. She is survived by her children Ramin Azima, Manoutchehr and Massoud Marzban, and her grandchildren, Kamran, Kaylan, Elika, and Kiana Marzban.

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