Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals

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Pahlevani and Zourkhaneh Rituals
Namjoo Zurkhaneh (3).jpg
Pahlevan Namjoo Zurkhaneh in Azadi Street
Country Iran
Reference 378
RegionAsia and Australasia
Inscription history
Inscription2010 (4th session)
Koshti Pahlevani
Phalavan Mustafa Toosi.jpg
The pahlevan Mustafa Tousi holding a pair of meels
Also known asKoshti Pahlavāni
Focus Wrestling
Country of originFlag of Iran.svg  Iran (Persia)
Famous practitioners
Descendant arts
Olympic sportThrough lineage:
  • Pahlevani wrestling
    • Catch wrestling
      • Freestyle wrestling
Official website http://www.izsf.net/en/
MeaningHeroic wrestling

Pahlevani and zourkhaneh rituals is the name inscribed by UNESCO for varzesh-e pahlavāni (Persian : آیین پهلوانی و زورخانه‌ای, "heroic sport") [1] or varzesh-e bāstāni (ورزش باستانی; varzeš-e bāstānī, "ancient sport"), a traditional system of athletics and a form of martial arts [2] originally used to train warriors in Iran (Persia), and first appearing under this name and form in the Safavid era, with similarities to systems in adjacent lands under other names. [3] [4] Outside Iran, zoorkhanehs can now also be found in Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan, and were introduced into Iraq in the mid-19th century by the Iranian immigrants, where they seem to have existed until the 1980s before disappearing. [5] [6] [7] [8] It combines martial arts, calisthenics, strength training and music. Recognized by UNESCO as the world's longest-running form of such training, it contains elements of pre-Islamic and post-Islamic Persian culture (particularly Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Gnosticism) with the spirituality of Persian Shia Islam and Sufism. Practiced in a domed structure called the zurkhāneh, training sessions consist mainly of ritual gymnastic movements and climax with the core of combat practice, a form of submission-grappling called koshti pahlavāni.

Contents

Studio Portrait of Three Persian Wrestlers by Antoin Sevruguin, c. 1890 Antoin Sevruguin zoorkhaneh.jpg
Studio Portrait of Three Persian Wrestlers by Antoin Sevruguin, c.1890

History

Training push-ups Varzesh-e Pahlavani in Mashhad (2).jpg
Training push-ups

Traditional Iranian wrestling (koshti) dates back to ancient Persia and was said to have been practiced by Rustam, mythological Iranian hero of the Shahnameh epic. While folk styles were practiced for sport by every ethnic group in various provinces, grappling for combat was considered the particular specialty of the zourkhāneh. The original purpose of these institutions was to train men as warriors and instill them with a sense of national pride in anticipation for the coming battles. [9] The Mithrāic design and rituals of these academies bear testament to its Parthian origin (132 BC - 226 AD). The zourkhaneh system of training is what is now known as varzesh-e bastani, and its particular form of wrestling was called koshti pahlevani, after the Parthian word pahlevan meaning hero.[ citation needed ]

When the Arabs invaded Persia around 637 CE, the zourkhānehs served as secret meeting places where knights would train and keep alive a spirit of solidarity and patriotism. Invaders repeatedly targeted the houses of strength to discourage rebels, but new ones would always be organized in a different location. Following the spread of Shia Islam, and particularly after the development of Sufism in the 8th century, varzesh-e pahlavani absorbed philosophical and spiritual components from it. Religious hymns were incorporated into training, and the first Shi'ite imam Ali was adopted as the zourkhāneh patron.

Varzesh-e bastani was particularly popular in the 19th century, during the reign of the Qajar king Nāser al-Din Shāh Qājār (1848–1896). Every 21 March on Nowruz (the Iranian new year), competitions would be held in the shah's court, and the shah himself would present the champion with an armlet (bazoo-band). The sport declined following the rise of the Pahlavi dynasty in the 1920s and the subsequent modernisation campaigns of Reza Shah, who saw the sport as a relic of Qajarite ritual. Reza Shah's son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took a different approach, emphasizing Iran's ancient Persian roots as an alternative to the heavily Islam-based identity of less developed nations in the Middle East. He attempted to revive the tradition and practiced it himself, and during his reign, the last national competitions were held.[ citation needed ]

Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979 the tradition lost some of its popularity as the new regime discouraged anything tied to pre-Islamic paganism, which included the Gnostic and Mithraic chants and rituals of the zourkhāneh. This did not last, however, as the Islamic Republic eventually promoted varzesh-e bastani as a symbol of Iranian pride and culture. Today, varzesh-e pahlavāni is touted as the reason why Iranians are regular winners at international wrestling and weight-lifting events.

The matter of attracting younger members has been a major discourse for some time. Suggestions have included making practice more upbeat and distributing duties among the younger members instead of adhering strictly to seniority. The IZSF was established in response to this and it is currently the world governing body for all zourkhāneh. In recent years, the sport appears to be gaining popularity in the countries adjacent to Iran, including Iraq and Afghanistan. [10] [ need quotation to verify ]

One of the Baku's Inner City's entertainment areas was the Zorkhana. Baku's Zorkhana located just a few steps from the Bukhari and Multani caravanserais, towards the Maiden's Tower dates back to at least the 15th century. There were contests accompanied by a trio of musicians who performed traditional Eastern instruments like the kamancha, zurna and naghara. Most of these melodies have long since been forgotten. However, one by the name of "Jangi" (War) is still performed prior to the opening of Azerbaijani national wrestling competitions (Gulash). [11]

The zurkhāneh

A Ramadan performance in Jamaran Zoorkhaneh of Tehran, 2013

The traditional gymnasium in which varzesh-e bastani is practiced is known as the zurkhaneh (Persian : زورخانه, also spelled zoorkhāneh and zourkhāneh), literally the "house of strength". These gyms have a very specific and unique architecture and are covered structures with a single opening in the ceiling, with a sunken 1m-deep octagonal or circular pit in the center (gaud). [12] Around the gaud is a section for the audience, one for the musicians, and one for the athletes. A portrait of Ali is hung on the wall of every zurkhāneh. An aspiring member may be a male from any social class or religion, but they must first spend at least a month watching from the audience before they can join. Traditionally, the zurkhānehs demanded no payment from their athletes, and depended instead on public donations. In return, the zurkhāneh provided community services and protection. One example is the "casting of flowers" ceremony in which athletes held koshti matches and other displays of strength to raise funds for the needy. There are today 500 zurkhaneh in Iran and each has strong ties to their local community. Zurkhanehs have commonly had strong political affiliations, either advocating or denouncing particular governments; Qassem Soulimani, the commander of the Quds Force, attended a zurkhāneh as a teenager. [13] This type of sports diplomacy is said to be a natural extension of the patriotic nature of zurkhāneh training dating back to the days when pahlevans served in the king's court.[ citation needed ]

Rituals and practice

Bastani rituals mimic the practices and traditions of Sufi orders, as evidenced by terminology like murshed or morshed ("master"), pishkesvat ("leader"), tāj ("crown") and faqr ("pride"). The ethics involved are also similar to Sufi ideals, emphasizing purity of heart. Every session begins with pious praise to the Prophet Muhammed and his family. The morshed dictates the pace by beating a goblet drum (zarb) while reciting Gnostic poems and stories from Persian mythology. As the most important member of the zourkhāneh, the morshed leads prayer sessions and spurs the athletes on with poems in praise of Shi'ite imams and excerpts from the Shahnameh. The singing itself once served as a form of oral education, passing down social knowledge, moral codes and religious teachings to the warriors in training.[ citation needed ]

The main portion of a varzesh-e bāstāni session is dedicated to weight training and calisthenics, notably using a pair of wooden clubs (mil), metal shields (sang), and bow-shaped iron weights (kabbādeh or kamān). This is followed by exercises like Sufi whirling and juggling, all of which are intended to build strength. The athletes move in unison to the drum beats of the morshed. Every session ends with bouts of koshti pahlavāni.[ citation needed ]

Ancient Zoroastrians believed that the development of physical and mental strength could be used to enhance spirituality. Thus, aside from once preparing warriors for battle, this training is supposed to promote kindness and humility through the cultivation of outer strength. Under the supervision of a pishkesvat, students are instructed in traditional ethics and chivalry. Participants are expected to be pure, truthful, good-tempered and only then strong in body. Acquiring the rank of pahlevan (hero) requires mastery of the physical skills, observance of religious principles, and passing the moral stages of Gnosticism. The principles of unpretentiousness are exemplified by a verse recited at many meetings: "Learn modesty, if you desire knowledge. A highland would never be irrigated by a river." (Kanz ol-Haghayegh)

International Zurkhāneh Sport Federation

The International Zurkhāneh Sport Federation (IZSF) was established on October 10, 2004 to promote varzesh-e pahlavāni on a global level. The IZSF aims to regulate and standardize rules for koshti pahlevani and organize international festivals and competitions. In 2010 it started to regulate and organize para-zourkhāneh festivals for disabled athletes. Seventy Two countries are currently members of the IZSF. [14]

  • The 1st Koshti Pahlevani Championship (Tajikistan President Cup), 8–9 September 2005.
  • The 1st International Zurkhaneh Sports Festival of the Cities of the World. Mashhad, I.R Iran, 11–16 November 2005.
  • The 1st Zurkhaneh Sport Tournament of Asian Universities Students in Shomal University in Amol, I.R Iran, 15 November 2006.
  • The 1st Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Festival in Tehran, I.R Iran, 18–24 November 2006.
  • The 1st European Zurkhaneh Sports Festival in Saarbrücken, Germany. 26–31 March 2007.
  • The 2nd International Zurkhaneh Sports tournament in Kish Island, I.R Iran, 16–20 February 2008.
  • The 2nd Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal, 22–27 July 2008.
  • The 1st Zurkhaneh Sports World Championship, during the 4th Busan TAFISA Sport For All Games, South Korea, 26 Sep – 2 Oct 2008.
  • The 1st Zurkhaneh Sports World Cup, Baku, Azerbaijan, 13–17 March 2009.
  • The 1st International Zurkhaneh Sports Tournament (Ferdowsi Cup), Dushanbeh, Tajikistan, 12–16 May 2009.
  • The 2nd European Zurkhaneh Sports Championship, Frankfurt, Germany, 13–17 December 2009.
  • The 1st International Zurkhaneh Sports Tournament (Ferdowsi Cup), Dushanbeh, Tajikistan, 10–13 July 2010.
  • The 2nd Zurkhaneh Sports World Cup, Konya, Turkey, 20–25 October 2010.
  • The 1st Junior European Zurkhaneh Sports Championship, Minsk, Belarus, 25–29 November 2010.
  • The 1st Junior Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championship (Ferdowsi Cup), Dushanbeh, Tajikistan, 4–7 December 2010.
  • The 1st Asian Para Zurkhaneh Sports Championship (Ferdowsi Cup), Dushanbeh, Tajikistan, 8 December 2010.
  • The 1st African Zurkhaneh Sports Championship, Mozambique
  • The 3rd Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 2012.
  • The 3rd European Zurkhaneh Sports Championship, during the TAFISA Sport For All Games, Palanga, Lithuania, July 2012.
  • The 4th Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal, September 2013.
  • The 5th Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championship in Tabriz, I. R. Iran
  • The 2nd African Zurkhaneh Sports & Pahlavani Championship, Addis Ababa Ethiopia
  • The 2nd Zurkhaneh & Kosthi Pahlavani World Championship in The 6th TAFISA World Sports for All Games, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • The 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, Baku, Azerbaijan ( details )

See also

Related Research Articles

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; physical, mental, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage.

Academy of Persian Language and Literature Official regulatory institution of the Persian language

The Academy of Persian Language and Literature (APLL) is the regulatory body for the Persian language, headquartered in Tehran, Iran. Formerly known as the Academy of Iran, it was founded on May 20, 1935, by the initiative of Reza Shah, the founder of Pahlavi dynasty.

Submission wrestling Fighting style

Submission wrestling, also known as Submission fighting, Submission grappling or Sport grappling, is a form of competition and a general term for martial arts and combat sports that focus on clinch and ground fighting with the aim of obtaining a submission through the use of submission holds. The term "submission wrestling" usually refers only to the form of competition and training that does not use a gi, or "combat kimono", of the sort often worn with belts that establish rank by color, though some may use the loose trousers of such a uniform, without the jacket. Not using a gi has a major impact on the sport : there are many choke techniques which make use of the lapels of the gi, thus rendering them un-usable and grappling in general becomes more difficult when the opponent doesn't have a gi to grab hold of.

Tombak

The tombak, tonbak (تنبک), or zarb (ضَرب) is an Iranian goblet drum. It is considered the principal percussion instrument of Persian music. The tombak is normally positioned diagonally across the torso while the player uses one or more fingers and/or the palm(s) of the hand(s) on the drumhead, often near the drumhead's edge. Sometimes tombak players wear metal finger rings for an extra-percussive "click" on the drum's shell. Tombak virtuosi perform solos lasting ten minutes or more. The tombak had been used to create a goblet drum.

Gholamreza Takhti Iranian wrestler

Gholamreza Takhti was an Iranian Olympic Gold-Medalist wrestler and Varzesh-e Bastani practitioner. Popularly nicknamed Jahān Pahlevān because of his chivalrous behavior and sportsmanship, he was the most popular athlete of Iran in the 20th century, although dozens of Iranian athletes have won more international medals than he did. Takhti is still a hero to many Iranians. He is listed in the UWW wrestling hall of fame.

Indian club Type of exercise equipment

Indian clubs, which originated in the Indian subcontinent, are a type of exercise equipment used to present resistance in movement to develop strength and mobility. They consist of bowling-pin shaped wooden clubs of varying sizes and weights, which are swung in certain patterns as part of a strength exercise program. They can range in weight from a few pounds each to special clubs that can weigh as much as up to 100 pounds. They were used in carefully choreographed routines in which the clubs were swung in unison by a group of exercisers, led by an instructor, similar to 21st-century aerobics or zumba classes. The routines would vary according to the group's ability along with the weights of the clubs being used. When the 19th-century British colonists came across exercising clubs in India, they named them Indian clubs.

Pehlwani Form of wrestling from the South Asia

Pehlwani, also known as kushti, is a form of wrestling contested in the Indian subcontinent. It was developed in the Mughal Empire by combining Persian koshti pahlevani with influences from native Indian malla-yuddha. The words pehlwani and kushti derive from the Persian terms pahlavani (heroic) and koshti respectively, meaning Heroic wrestling. A practitioner of this sport is referred to as a pehlwan while teachers are known as ustad.

Sport in Iran

Many sports in Iran are both traditional and modern. Tehran, for example, was the first city in West Asia to host the Asian Games in 1974, and continues to host and participate in major international sporting events to this day. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Iran's national sport, however today, football is the most popular sport in Iran. Because of economic sanctions, the annual government's budget for sport was about $80 million in 2010 or about $1 per person.

Iranian wrestling or Koshti is a form of submission grappling that has been practiced since ancient times in Iran. A form today is koshti pahlavani practiced in the zurkhaneh. while regional variations differ from one province to another. Olympic freestyle wrestling is often referred to as the "first sport" of Iran.

History of martial arts

Although the earliest evidence of martial arts goes back millennia, the true roots are difficult to reconstruct. Inherent patterns of human aggression which inspire practice of mock combat and optimization of serious close combat as cultural universals are doubtlessly inherited from the pre-human stage and were made into an "art" from the earliest emergence of that concept. Indeed, many universals of martial art are fixed by the specifics of human physiology and not dependent on a specific tradition or era.

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Pahlevan of Iran is an annual Pahlevani Wrestling competition held in Iran, in which athletes from across the country compete. The champion earns the title of Pahlevan and the right to wear the Bazouband. Though the competition has ancient roots, its modern form has been held only since 1944.

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References

  1. official IZSF
  2. "Martial art | Definition, History, Types, & Facts".
  3. Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals at Encyclopædia Iranica
  4. "Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals".
  5. Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals at Encyclopædia Iranica
  6. Shay, Anthony; Sellers-Young, Barbara (2005). Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism, and Harem Fantasy. Mazda Publishers. ISBN   978-1-56859-183-4. the zurkhaneh exercises of Iran , Afghanistan , and Azerbaijan
  7. Afghanistan, Foreign Policy & Government Guide. International Business Publications, USA. 2000. ISBN   978-0-7397-3700-2. UNIVERSAL SPORTS PLAYED IN AFGHANISTAN Wrestling ( Palwani )
  8. Elias, Josie; Ali, Sharifah Enayat (2013-08-01). Afghanistan: Third Edition. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC. ISBN   978-1-60870-872-7. Wrestling, or Pahlwani (pahl-wah-NEE) , is popular with men all over the country.
  9. Nekoogar, Farzad (1996). Traditional Iranian Martial Arts (Varzesh-e Pahlavani). pahlvani.com: Menlo Park. Accessed: 2007-02-08
  10. CHN News (November 25, 2005). Iran's Neighbours to Revive Iran's Varzesh-e Pahlevani Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine . Accessed: 2007-02-08
  11. Baku's Old City. Memories of How it Used to Be by Farid Alakbarli // Azerbaijan International. Autumn 2002 (10.3). Pages 38–43.
  12. Bashiri, Iraj (2003). Zurkhaneh. Accessed: 2007-02-08
  13. Merat, Arron. "What America needs to understand about Qasim Soleimani" . Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  14. IZSF official website.

Further information

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg The Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei Rituals (UNESCO official channel) on YouTube