Picture-storyteller Masters of Iran
The “Picture-storyteller Masters of Iran” was written by Hamid Reza Ardalan, musician and scholar of ritual arts of Iran, in thirty volumes. This work introduces thirty Pardekhans who are among the remaining generation of picture-storytellers. This book is the result of ten years of library research and field work of the author. Each volume of this series is around 25 picture pages and includes an introduction and analysis of one of the picture-storytellers. The book and CD, as a contribution to preserving ritual arts and oral heritage of Iran, have been published by “Farhagestan-e Honar” in both English and Persian languages.
|Author||Hamid Reza Ardalan|
|Publisher||The Iranian Academy of The Arts|
About the Author
Hamid Reza Ardalan, the book author, is one of the most well-known scholars of ritual arts in Iran especially Maghami music. Ardalan started his artistic activities in 1966. He has begun his professional activities in theater, puppet and theater since 1985. He pursued his academic educations at PhD level and acquired specialty in philosophy, etymology, music and theater. Hamid Reza Ardalan was the head of Iran UNIMA (Puppetry International).
Pardekhani is a kind of Iranian ritual performance based on what is painted on Parde (curtains), in which the performance of the subjects of the curtains is up to the thoughts and tastes of the Naqal (traditional narrator), and refers back to the people’s beliefs. These curtain storytellers walk and, in each location, the Pardekhan performers and the audience are necessary to each other both under the influence of the social events. The spaces on the curtain are divided clearly into spaces for good and evil, heaven and hell, and scared and evil personalities. The sacred personalities such as Hazrate Abbas, heaven, good thoughts and good animals (dove) are at the tip right, and left, below, lie the evil characters and hell and evil animals (the snake). The heroes of these curtains are the saints and the evil characters are in government. The first group are manifestation of good and beauty and in opposition to them are the enemies representing ugliness in hell. The images of the curtains have no perspective. The true sizes of people, faces and beings of the curtains are determined by and express the specific concepts and functions, not a realistic view; for example, the colour green is the colour of the saints and red the colour of evil characters. The curtains’ colours have their own faces and gatherings. The curtains usually have 72 gatherings and 366 faces. However, each curtain may vary and contain less based on necessity, being animated by far and unknown times and places under the influence of the narrator’s words. The images have life and the audience’s minds come alive finding themselves included in the midst of these images.
The Morsheds who are the Pardekhan performers usually wear dervish apparel. This includes a kind of headband, and a special axe hanging over the shoulder (tabarzin) and a cane in hand. While performing the Pardekhani, main and subsidiary themes, prayers, Monajat (devotional liturgies), Masnavis, Qazals, Qasidehs and Goriz (tangents) are used. Their curtain is varied and full of motion and some performances include special calm repetitive motions. The Pardekhan moves in front of the curtain, using the hand to indicate the saints, the cane to indicate the evil ones, while a homogenous thinking takes sway between the Morsheds and audience. The Pardekhan narrates the stories in a conversational tone together with song and a kind of order is heard. At times the singing converges with Iranian Dastgah music and at others it goes beyond into folk modes of singing) mostly using mouth and nose, a specific type of popular singing), depending on the meter of the poetry.