(Persia Digest) – If you are interested in watching a Ta’zieh performance, which is one of the oldest genres of religious performance in Iran, these will be taking place on Friday 3 November 2017 in honor of the fortieth day of Imam Hossein’s martyrdom, the third Shia Imam.

The “Theatre Shahr” city theater’s program includes the plays “Motevakel Ibn Abbasi Sermon”, “Ghaniya-ye Farang”, “Martyrdom of Imam Reza (AS)”, “Shah Cheragh”, and “Imam Ali (AS)”. The performances will start at 18h00 on Friday 3 November under the direction of Aladdin Ghassemi, at the theater.

A glance at the history of Ta’zieh

Ta’zieh is a religious play which dates back to old times in Iran. It mourns and honors the martyrdom of religious figures and tells their story.

The beginnings of Ta’zieh is not very clear. But there are no doubts that this is an Iranian form of art. Some researchers date it back to 3000 years ago and find its roots in the “mourning of Siavash”, the hero of Persian epic stories recited in the “Shahnameh” by “Ferdowsi”. Siavash died innocent and his mourning ceremony has survived to be transformed into the art of Ta’zieh. Some researchers even date this back to before Siavash, to the days of Mithraism. Others, still, believe that this is a more complex form of the simpler Shia mourning rituals in the early days of the advent of Islam for the martyrs of Karbala, killed by the army of Yazid.

In its official form, Ta’zieh was first performed during the reign of the Iranian Shia dynasty of Al-e Buyid and went on to flourish during the reign of the Safavid with the support of the government and the prevalence of “rozeh khani” and “hamleh khani” religious chanting and mourning ceremonies.

Ta’zieh reached its peak under Nassereddin Shah and this has been named as the golden era of Ta’zieh. The plays usually performed in caravanserai courtyards, bazaars, and at times private homes, were now taken into open air venues or the closed spaces of Tekkiye religious lodges. The most famous and luxurious of these was called “Tekkiey Dolat”, built by Nassereddin Shah and the stewardship of his treasurer Dustali Khan Mo’ayer ol-Mamalek in 1925.

“Tekkiye Dolat” was designed after the Royal Opera House in England and planned to be a theater. Although, having been faced with oppositions, it was turned into a Tekkiye. Of the more famous venues of the time one can name the “Mo’aven ol-Mamalek Tekkiye” in Kermanshah. At the start of Nassereddin Shah’s reign, Ta’zieh was performed in 300 special lodges and stayed at its peak until Iran’s Constitutional Movement.

Under Reza Shah Pahlavi I, in 1925, Ta’zieh and other religious ceremonies were gradually banned. Reza Shah ordered the demolition of “Tekkiye Dolat” and Ta’zieh began its declining years. Nevertheless, it was back on its feet again in 1941, but was unable to reach its former glory when faced with other forms of entertainment such as the cinema and theater.

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