Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Traditional Varzesh-e Pahlavani in Iran

The traditional Iranian sport, Varzesh-e Pahlavani, is a kind of gymnastics which is practiced in group to the sound of a drum while singing ritual songs. This sport is loaded with symbolism and has the value of being a popular manifestation of great strength, vigor and energy. The place where it is practiced is called Zoorkhaneh (house of strength). The place where the athletes practice is one and a half meters below the ground level and the public sit around this area to watch.  From the first moment, everything that happens is full of allegorical gestures. When the participants enter, they touch the ground with their hands, then kiss it and bring it to their foreheads. They start spinning around the track. After a while, starts the exercise on a board, it is about twenty minutes of push-ups in a row. In a prominent position, stands the Morshed, a person in charge of singing epic poems, accompanied by the rhythmic sound of a drum. The singer also recites poetry in honor of Ali and God. It continues with a kind of choreographic spectacle, with movements of legs and arms, rhythmic jumps and some turns similar to Sufi whirling. This ancient ritual is registered by the UNESCO as an intangible world heritage.

training push-ups in Zoorkhaneh
Zoorkhaneh

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