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Tuesday, 05 November 2013 13:28

Ta'zieh: Iranian Passion Play

Ta’zieh is an Iranian passion play that reenacts the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in the desert of Karbala in 7th century.

It is a play on religious rituals, which is performed in Iran during the lunar month of Muharram concurrent with the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and 72 of his companions for not giving their oath of allegiance to the tyrant king Yazid ibn Moaviya.
This Iranian passion play was registered on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Heritage during the fifth session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2011, Wikipedia reported.

Ta’zieh in Iranian Culture
In Iranian culture, Ta’zieh refers to condolence theater and Naqqali, which are traditional theatrical genres in which the drama is conveyed wholly or predominantly through music and singing.
It dates before the Islamic era and the tragedy of Siavash in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is one of the best examples. In Iranian tradition, Ta’zieh and Pardeh-Khani, inspired by historical and religious events, symbolize the epic spirit and resistance.
The common theme is the heroic tales of love and sacrifice, and of resistance against the evil.
While in the West, the two major genres of dramas have been comedy and tragedy, in Iran, Ta’zieh is the dominant genre. Considered as an Iranian opera, Ta’zieh resembles the European opera in many respects.
Iranian cinema and Iranian symphonic music have also been influenced by the long tradition of Ta’zieh.
Like Western passion plays, Ta’zieh dramas were originally performed outdoors at crossroads and other public places where large audiences could gather.
Performances later took place in the courtyards of inns and private homes, but eventually unique structures called Tekyehs were constructed for the specific purpose of staging the plays.
Community cooperation was encouraged for building and decorating the Tekyehs, the funds for which were provided by philanthropists or by contributions from the residents of the surrounding areas.
The Tekyehs varied in size, from intimate structures that could only accommodate a few dozen spectators to large buildings capable of holding an audience of more than a thousand people.
Often the Tekyehs were temporary, having been erected specially for the mourning ceremonies of Muharram. All Tekyehs, regardless of their size, are constructed as theaters-in-the-round to intensify the dynamic between actors and audience.
The spectators are literally surrounded by the action and often become participants in the play.
Many ancient Tekyehs were built in various cites of Iran after the advent of Islam. Some of them are briefly outlined here.

Tekyeh Dowlat in Tehran
Tekyeh Dowlat was a Royal Theater in Tehran. It was the most famous for Ta’zieh performance, especially for the mourning ceremonies of Muharram.
It has a capacity for more than 4,000 people. Built in 1868 by Nassereddin Shah Qajar southeast of Golestan Palace at site of Siyah-Chal, the Royal Theater’s sumptuous magnificence surpassed that of Europe’s greatest opera houses in the opinion of many Western visitors.
It was here that Reza Shah proclaimed the downfall of Qajar Dynasty. The Tekyeh was destroyed in 1947 and a bank building was later constructed on the site.

Amir Chakhmaq Tekyeh in Yazd
Amir Chakhmaq Shami and his wife, Seti Fatimeh, built this square, in the 9th century AH (after hegira). Haji Qanbar Bazaar on the east side of the square was one of the buildings constructed by Nezameddin Haj Qanbar Jahanshahi.
The famous Mir Chakhmaq Mosque and Tekyeh for Ta’zieh performances are located on the northern side of the square.
The historical monument is a symbol of Yazd and safeguarded by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Source: Iran Daily

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