(Persia Digest) – A shadow of doubt is always cast on when and where the Iranian religious play, Ta’zieh, was first performed on the tragic killing of Imam Hossein (AS) the third Shia Imam and his companions in Karbala by its tyrant ruler Yazid and his army. The national congress of “Shiraz the Home of Ta’zieh” takes place in the city every year on 17-18 October to commemorate the beginnings of the art in the city of Shiraz by presenting articles and staging meetings for the scholars and researchers of Ta’zieh.

The congress takes place at the open-air venue of Fars National Library and Documentation Center and is attended by Taz’ieh scholars and researchers such as Tabatabaei, Salehpur, Momenzadeh, and others including six Taz’ieh groups from the provinces of Fars, Isfahan, Yazd, and Arak.

The congress is organized in association with the Culture, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization of Iran, the social-cultural department of Shiraz City Council, the city’s State Endowment and Charity Affairs Organization, Fars Ta’zieh Foundation, and Fars Encyclopedia.

Ta’zieh is a religious ritual play staged in Iran from the time of Karim Khan Zand (rule 1751-1779). Some date the play back to older times and it is not clear when its performances began here. Others believe this is a pre-Islamic Persian ritual going back to 3000 years ago, when it was performed to mourn the death of the Persian hero ‘Siavash’. One such event in Ferdowsi’s epic ‘Book of Kings’ is called ‘Sug-e Siavash’ to mourn the death of the innocent, legendary prince in the early days of the Empire in Iran. Scholars believe that the present-day mourning ritual of Ta’zieh has its roots in this story. Yet others link it to the rites of Mithraism and Memorial of Zarir the mythical hero.

There are also narratives about its roots being in myths from Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Egypt; and in places, it is linked to the sufferings of Christ and other historical myths in Indian, European, and Sami cultures. But according to many people, apart from its resemblances to past mourning rituals, Ta’zieh today is a more evolved version of simpler Shia mourning for the martyrs of Karbala in the first decades after the advent of Islam.

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