Art And Culture

Youngest Raconteur

Youngest RaconteurYoungest Raconteur

Niusha Ahmadzadeh, 16, has been brought up by a family with earnest devotion to the Shahnameh*, Persian epic poem. Her father Nurbakhsh has been a raconteur of the book for 20 years. He is from the Bakhtiari Lur clan, and believes the Lur do not just read Shahnameh; they swear by it, reported.

They live in Izeh, Khuzestan Province. Niusha’s younger sisters, Anushka 12 and Sutiam 3 can recite the verses as well. While Niusha claims to have a personal style in reciting, namely narration style, her younger sister Anushka makes hers distinct into “sad and happy parts”, reciting them separately. Their little sister does not intend to stay behind. Her patient mother is now introducing to her the verses of Ferdowsi.

Hakim Abul-Qasem Ferdowsi (Tus, 940 – 1020) is the author of the Shahnameh, the world’s longest epic poetry created by a single poet during 30 arduous years. With this masterpiece he has traced the history of religion from the mythical beginning, and provided an ethno-national cultural identity for modern-day Iran and Afghanistan.


The enthusiasm of the three sisters is better understood when we know that Shahnameh was one of lullaby materials for them. They recited the book for Niusha since she was inside her mother’s womb, she said. Her father brought them books; her mother read them out.

She faced objections when she started to recite as a raconteur, she recounted. Her gender was not deemed appropriate for the social gatherings where they listen to raconteurs. She counts herself the second female raconteur after Fatemeh Habibizad known as Gordafarid, a heroine in Shahnameh.                                                      

   * (The Book of Kings)