(Persia Digest) – It has been customary since ancient times for messengers and town criers to herald in Nowruz and spring with particular traditions. Customary groups of messengers in countries that celebrate Nowruz, especially in Iran, go by names such as “Atash Aruzan”, “Haji Firuz”, “Bi Nowruzak”, “Naneh Nowruz”, “Mama Nowruz”, “Pir Baba”, “Naneh Maryam”, “Kuseh Beranshahan”, “Amu Nowruz”, “Sayachi”, and “Takahmchi”.
Takamchi criers ushered in Nowruz when the snow began to melt on Sabalan Peak (in the Alborz mountain range, Ardabil Province, northwestern Iran) and continued to give news of spring until the New Year in towns and cities. The Takamchi were different from the other criers in that, despite popular belief, they did not intend to collect money.
This tradition has been intertwined with the people of Azerbaijan from ancient times, especially in Ardabil Province, and people awaited the Takamchi as they neared Nowruz.
“Takam” means “Billy goat”. It is made of wood about 4cms thick, 25cms long, and 12-15cms wide. It is covered with red velvet or other material, with sequins, coins, mirror pieces, and pieces of colorful fabric sawn on the material. The person who performs a street show with the wooden goat by singing special songs is called “Takamchi”.
The whole thing is a simple, wooden toy, brought to dance by the Takamchi who sings songs about people’s lives, hopes, loves, and joys.
But with changing lifestyles over the past decades, and new recreational possibilities, the Takamchi are also losing their foothold.