World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Iranian folklore

Article Id: WHEBN0014481946
Reproduction Date:

Title: Iranian folklore  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Music of Iran, Iran, Amir Arsalan, Iranian art, Persian embroidery
Collection: Folklore by Nationality, Iranian Culture, Persian Culture, Persian Legendary Creatures
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Iranian folklore

Iranian folklore, including jokes, legends, games, folklore heroes and beliefs is sophisticated and complex.


  • Heroes 1
  • Books 2
  • Oral legends and tales 3
  • Creatures 4
    • Folklore games 4.1
  • Traditional ceremonies 5
  • Characters in jokes 6
  • Beliefs 7
  • Music, Dance and Performing Arts 8
  • Pimps, prostitutes and mobs 9
  • See also 10
  • Further reading 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


  • Samak-E 'Ayyar[1]
  • Pourya-ye Vali
  • Hasan Kachal "Hasan the Bald"
  • Khaleh Soskeh "Auntie Cockroach"
  • Hossein-e Kurd e Shabestari "The Kurdish Hossein of Shabestar"
  • Karim Shire'e "The Junkie Karim"
  • Baba Shammal
  • Koroghlu (Iranian Azarbaijan)
  • Maadar Fulad-zereh "Mother of Fulad-zereh"[2]
  • Otour-khan Rashti
  • Churchill used for any mischievous person in oral folklore
  • Jaffar Jenni or Zaffar Jenni
  • Ya'qub-i Laith is a popular folk hero in Iranian history, and it was at his court that the revitalization of the Persian language began after two centuries of eclipse by Arabic.[3]


"Dāstān" in Persian means "fable, fiction, story, tale". The genre to which they refer may go back to ancient Iran. It was a widely popular and folkloric form of story-telling: Dastan-tellers (narrators) tend to tell their tile in coffee houses. They told tales of heroic romance and adventure, stories about gallant princes and their encounters with evil kings, enemy champions, demons, magicians,Jinns, divine creatures, tricky Robin Hood-like persons (called ayyārs), and beautiful princesses who might be human or of the Pari ("fairy") race.

Oral legends and tales

  • Boz boz Gandhi"Suger goat"
  • Shangol o Mangol o Habeh-e-Angur
  • Maah pishoni "(the girl with)Moon(sign)in her brow"
  • Kadou ghelghelehzan "The trundle gourd"
  • Sarma Pirezan "the old woman’s cold" :A ten- or seven-day period in the month of Esfand, that is believed that there was an old woman whose camels were not impregnated by the end of the winter, and as camels only mate during the cold, she went to Moses or, according to other versions, to the Prophet Moḥammad and asked for an extension of the cold winter days so that her camels might be covered. Her wish was granted, and that is why this period is called sarmā-ye pīr zan or bard al-ʿajūz.[11]


  • Karkadann
    The Nightmare in European folklore is similar to Iranian "Bakhtak"
  • Davaal paa (Persian: دووال پا ‎) "lasso-leg creature"
  • Aal [12]
  • Bakhtak (Persian: بختک ‎)"Nightmare" A ghost or an evil creature that cause Sleep paralysis[13]
  • Genie " elf, goblin"
  • Div, "jinn in both folk and literary traditions, expresses not only the idea of demon, but also that of ogre, giant, and even Satan.[14]
  • Ghoul, Ghoul-e-biabani (Monster of desert),designation of a frightening creature in the Perso-Arabic lore. It is a hideous monster with a feline head, forked tongue, hairy skin, and deformed legs that resemble the limp and skinny legs of a prematurely born infant.[15]
  • Martyaxwar A legendary creature similar to the sphinx.
  • Peri
  • Zār (Persian: زآر‎) A ritual in some of the south coastal Iranian provinces that is a kind of spiritual "trance" dance. In some cases it can go for a long time,until the dancer drops down of exhaustion [16]
  • Takam "The king of goats", a male goat, in the folklore of Azarbaijan.

Folklore games

Physical games
  • Amo Zangirbaff (Uncle chain-weaver)
  • Attal Mattal Totuleh
  • Ghayyem Moshak
  • Gorgam be Hava
  • Alak Dolak
  • Ye Ghol Do Ghol
  • Bikh divari
  • Ghapp bazi "knucklebone Playing"
  • Khar polis "Donkey-Cop"
  • Aftaab Mahtab "Sunshine Moonlight"
  • Laylay or Ganiyeh [17]
folklore Card games
  • Hokm:A game for four players.[18]
  • Ganjafa [19][20]
  • Chahâr barg (4 cards) is another fishing game,also sometimes known as Pâsur,Haft Khâj(seven clubs)or Haft va chahâr, yâzdah(7+4=11).
  • Âs Nas: Perhaps Âs Nas is the game from which modern Poker may have sprung [21][22]
folklore Verbal games
  • Moshereh (Poetry Game):Every side has to answer the other side with a poem beginning with the last word of the previous poem (Compare with Urdu Mushaira).
other folklore games

Traditional ceremonies

folklore Nowruz traditional characters
folklore religious ceremonies
other folklore traditions
  • Taarof
  • Nāz-O-Niyāz, (lit.coquetry and supplication), An Iranian tradition in love, that is a game between lover and beloved which the beloved hurts her lover by coquetry (Naz) and the lover's response is (Niyaz) that is supplication and insistence in love.[29][30]

Characters in jokes

A depiction of Molla Nasr al din


Cheshm Nazar
  • Ajîl-e Moshkel-goshâ "The problem-solving nuts" of Chaharshanbe Suri[31][32]
  • Cheshm Nazar (چشم نظر)and Nazar Ghorboni (نظرقربونی): That is a pendant or gemstone or likewise that is used as necklace to protect its owner from Evil eye.[33] Compare with Nazar (amulet).
  • Cheshm-Zakhm (lit. "a blow by the eye"), the evil eye (Chashm also occurs alone with the same meaning; cf. Chashm-e bad, Chashm-e Shūr, Chashm-e hasūd "envious eye"; nazar zadan or chashm zadan "to inflict with the evil eye"; Middle Persian duščašmīh or sūr-čašmīh), the supposed power of an individual to cause harm, even illness or death, to another person (or animals and other possessions) merely by looking at him or complimenting him.[34] Dried capsules of Esfand (Peganum harmala)(known in Persian as اسپند espænd or اسفنددانه esfænd-dāneh) mixed with other ingredients are placed onto red hot charcoal, where they explode with little popping noises, releasing a fragrant smoke that is wafted around the head of those afflicted by or exposed to the gaze of strangers. As this is done, an ancient prayer is recited. This prayer is said by Muslims as well as by Zoroastrians.[34][35]
  • fāl gereftan (Divination),Many varieties of divination are attested in Persian folk practice. They include interpretation of objects which appear haphazardly, interpretation of involuntary bodily actions (sneezing, twitching, itches, etc.), observing animal behavior, divining by playing cards (fāl-e waraq) or chick-peas (fāl-e noḵod), bibliomancy (e.g., fāl-e Hafez), divination by means of mirrors and lenses (āʾīna-bīnī), observation of the liver of a slain animal (jegar-bīnī), divination by means of the flame of a lamp, etc.[25]
Mirror and Candles in Iranian Wedding Ceremony
  • Mirror and Candles, in Iranian wedding tradition, it is customary to buy a silver mirror and two candles and place it in the wedding Sofra (a piece of cloth that is spread on the floor, and on which dishes of food and the traditional items of wedding such as Quran are placed ) and the first thing that the bridegroom sees in the mirror should be the reflection of his wife-to-be.Not only Muslims, but also Iranian Jews and Zoroastrians observe the custom of offering sofras to various holy figures.[36]
  • "Mirror and Quran", when buying a new home, it is customary to place a mirror and a Quran in front of it as the first thing that enters the new house.[37]

Music, Dance and Performing Arts

  • Naghali and Pardeh dari, That is narrating of important stories from the Iranian fables, myths and epics which have remained from ancient times with special tone, feelings and expression. In this play, one person both narrates and plays all the roles.Pardeh dari is a special kind of Naghali which is done mostly in the streets.There is a hanging picture on which some scenes of a story are printed. The pardeh dar (story-teller) narrates the story with a demonstration of the scenes. This kind of narration is used for epics as well as religious stories.[38] Many naqhāls in the Safavid period specialized in single, though extensive stories; they were accordingly known as Shahname khan, Amīr Ḥamze khan, and the like.[39]

Pimps, prostitutes and mobs

See also

Further reading

  • Naqib-al-Mamalek, Mohammad-Ali (1961). Mahjub, M. J., ed. Amir Arsalan-e Rumi. Tehran. 
  • Gelpke, R. (1965). Amir Arsalan: Liebe und Abenteuer des Amir Arsalan. Zurich. 
  • Pritchett, Frances W., ed. (1991). The romance tradition in Urdu: Adventures from the Dastan of Amir Hamzah. New York: Columbia University Press. 
  • Daniel, Elton L. (2006). Culture and customs of Iran. Greenwood Press.  
  • Omidsalar, Mahmud (2005). "Magic in literature and folklore in the Islamic period". 


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "SAMAK-E ʿAYYĀR" by Marina Gaillard
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica (article by M. Omidsalar)
  3. ^ "Ya'qub-i Laith Saffari". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  4. ^ Download the book in Persian
  5. ^ tarsusi]
  6. ^ HANAWAY, WILLIAM L. "ĀBĀN DOKHT". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  7. ^ Dastan-e Amir Hamzah or Amir Hamza, extended version
  8. ^ The Adventures Of Amir Hamza
  9. ^ HANAWAY, WILLIAM L. "ESKANDAR-NĀMA". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  10. ^ Yūsofī, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn. "ČEHEL ṬŪṬĪ". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  11. ^ Omidsalar, Mahmoud. "ČELLA In Persian Folklore". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  12. ^ The placenta was cut and immediately it was poked with a pin or a needle to frighten bad spirits such as ‘Al’. These spirits were closely associated with death of the baby or the mother or anything else that could go wrong at this time. Zoroastrians believed in a number of such dark spirits attacking the mother and the newborn and ‘Al’ resembles the ancient spirits [1].
  13. ^ see also Persian WorldHeritage page about Bakhtak
  14. ^ Omidsalar, Mahmoud. "DĪV". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  15. ^ Omidsalar, Mahmoud and Teresa P. "ḠUL". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  16. ^ See also Persian WorldHeritage page about Zaar ritual in Iran
  17. ^ Iranian folklore games ( In Persian)
  18. ^ How to play Hokm
  19. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "CARD GAMES(ganjafa-bāzī, waraq-bāzī)" by Mahdi Roschanzamir
  20. ^ Ganjafa(In Persian)
  21. ^ About Âs Nas
  22. ^ Jacoby,Morehead, Oswald,Albert. "poker Origin and spread". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-01-18. :
    Poker is virtually indistinguishable from an older Persian game called as nas, a four-hand game played with a 20-card pack, five cards dealt to each player. This coincidence led some students of games to call poker a derivative of as nas, but this theory has been discredited.
  23. ^ a b Krasnowolska, Anna. "KUSA". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  24. ^ HITCHINS, KEITH. "Part v. KURDISH (SUNNI)". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  25. ^ a b OMIDSALAR, MAHMOUD. "DIVINATION". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  26. ^ Chelkowski, Peter. "THE PASSION (TA'ZIA) OF HOSAYN". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  27. ^ Calmard, J. AZAÚDAÚRÈ"'". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  28. ^ MARZOLPH, ULRICH. "FOLKLORE STUDIES". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2008-01-18. :
    "As a result, some topics, especially those of religious relevance (such as the Ta'zieh; see Homayun, 1989; Idem, 1976; Idem, 1998; cf. Waklian, 1991) are prioritized"
  29. ^ Orsatti, Paola. "ḴOSROW O ŠIRIN". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  30. ^ C.-H. de Fouchécour, “Nâz o niyâz, ou l’amour et l’Orient,” Luqmân 5/2, 1989, pp. 77-86
  31. ^ Serving different kinds of pastry and nuts known as Ajîleh Moshkel Goshâ (lit. The problem-solving nuts) is the Chahârshanbe Sûrî way of giving thanks for the previous year's health and happiness, while exchanging any remaining paleness and evil for the warmth and vibrancy of the fire. [2]
  32. ^ دنیای مجازی یا فاجعه مجازی در ایران - قاشق زنی، آجيل مشکل گشا، پريدن از روی آتش، فالگوش ايستادن
  33. ^ M.Moin:A Persian Dictionary, 3rd edition, Page 4752(In Persian)
  34. ^ a b Šakūrzāda, Omidsalar, Ebrāhīm ,Mahmoud. "ČAŠM-ZAḴM". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  35. ^ اسفند Great Islamic Encyclopedia (In Persian)
  36. ^ Omidsalar, Mahmoud. "SOFRA". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved November 15, 2006. 
  37. ^ "Quran in Iranian traditions (In Persian)". Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ HANAWAY, WILLIAM L. "DĀSTĀN-SARĀʾĪ (storytelling)". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 

External links

  • Daily life and social customs An article by Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  • Folkore studies of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan An article by Encyclopædia Iranica
  • Folk Poetry An article by Encyclopædia Iranica
  • The passion (t'azia) of Hussein ibn 'Ali by Peter Chelkowski, an article of Encyclopædia Iranica.
  • )by childrenNaghaaliMultimedia of Iranian story telling (
  • Card games in Iran
  • Pasurbazi (In Persian) at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
  • Ganjafeh (In Persian)
  • NaqqhaliIranian women performing
  • Lee Lee Hozak (Homa Sarshar's article about Iranian folkloric songs in Iranian-Americans)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.