Ardabil to Have Ta’zieh Museum

Ardabil to Have Ta’zieh MuseumArdabil to Have Ta’zieh Museum

A museum to celebrate religious drama (such as passion plays), Ta’zieh in particular, is to be established at the Mojtahed Ardabili hosseinieh (religious center) in the city of Ardabil, said the director general of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) provincial office in Ardabil Province, Karim Hajizadeh.

Mojtahed Ardabili Hosseinieh, located in Sarcheshmeh neighborhood in Ardabil, dates back to the period of Qajar dynasty, and enjoys an architectural style typical of the period.  It has been inscribed on the list of National Heritage.  

It will join two other major historical places, Tekyeh Dowlat in Tehran and Mo’aven-ol-Molk Tekyeh in Kermanshah (both from Qajar era), selected to preserve the aged tradition of performing rituals particularly Ta’zieh, CHTN reported.

Tekyeh Dowlat was a theatre in Tehran and the most famous of all the ta’zieh performance spaces, for the Mourning of Muharram. It has a capacity for more than 4,000 people. Built in 1868 by Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar south-east of the Golestan Palace on the site of the Siyah-Chal, the theatre’s sumptuous magnificence surpassed that of Europe’s greatest opera houses in the opinion of many Western visitors.

Hajizadeh called for acceleration of the project and noted renovation work is estimated to take about 2 years. The establishment of the museum is dependent on the completion of the restoration project.

Ta’zieh, a major form of Persian dramatic arts is considered as one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity and was inscribed on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010.

In Persian culture it normally refers to Condolence Theater and Naqqali which are traditional Persian 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 Saiawush in Shahnameh (of Ferdowsi) is one of the best examples.

In Persian tradition, Tazieh and Parde-khani, inspired by historical and religious events, symbolize epic spirit and resistance. It is a ritual dramatic art that recounts religious events, historical and mythical stories and folk tales and the common theme is the heroic tales of love and sacrifice, and of resistance against the evil.

Each performance has four elements: poetry, music, song and motion. Some performances have up to a hundred roles, divided into historical, religious, political, social, supernatural, real, imaginary, and fantasy characters.

Each Ta’zieh drama is individual, having its own subject, costumes and music. Performances are rich with symbolism, conventions, codes and signs understood by Iranian spectators, and take place on a stage without lighting or decoration.

Performers are always male, with female roles being played by men, and most are amateurs who gain their living through other means but perform for spiritual rewards. Ta’zieh is transmitted by example and word of mouth from tutor to pupil.

While Ta’zieh has a prominent role in Iranian culture, literature and art, everyday proverbs are also drawn from its ritual plays. Its performances help promote and reinforce religious and spiritual values, altruism and friendship while preserving old traditions, national culture and Iranian mythology. Ta’zieh also plays a significant role in preserving associated crafts, such as costume-making, calligraphy and instrument-making. Its flexibility has led it to become a common language for different communities, promoting communication, unity and creativity.

While in the West the two major genres of dramas have been comedy and tragedy, in Iran, Ta’zieh seems to be the dominant genre. Considered as Persian opera, it resembles the European opera in many respects. Like western passion plays, Ta’zieh dramas were originally performed outdoors at crossroads and other public places where large audiences could gather. However, performances later took place in the courtyards of inns and private homes.