Sine Zani

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Sine Zani (in english: Chest-beating) is a traditional practice for mourning Imam Hussain and other infallible Imams, which includes reciting the Nauhe (monodies) in a special tone while beating the head and the chest.

History[edit | edit source]

Processions, Sine Zani and reciting the Nauhe which were common and had developed during the Safavid era, became more and more popular in the capital during the Qajar era with even larger outreach and more ceremonies. During the period of Qajars, especially the time of Naser al-Din Shah, processions were held with great etiquette and protocol having extensive pomp. This was still prevalent in the first decade of Muharram and the last decade of Safar during the Pahlavi era, and apart from these two decades, it was almost extended to the Ayyam-e-Fatimiye and the martyrdom of Imam Ali.

The manner of holding[edit | edit source]

Sine Zani is performed in mourning processions. These processions consist of small, medium, and large groups of people who stand in the form of an array of rows and participate in the mourning ceremonies of the Imams especially in the month of Muharram and Safar on the occasion of the mourning of all martyr’s leader, Imam Hussain. This type of mourning has come to Iran from Arab-speaking countries, but in Iran, it has changed significantly in terms of protocol and being glorified.

The manner of Sine Zani and Zanjeer Zani (hitting oneself with chains) is different for each group depending upon the type of melody, rhythm, tone, and the Nauhe. Even throughout the path, till reaching the place of the mosque and the stays, it follows specific ups and downs. Usually, the groups, the chest-beaters or the chain-hitters, move along the route, beating to a quiet tune, but when they arrive in front of mosques, shrines, places of permanent or temporary stays, and public gathering squares, due to the change in the tone of Nauhe along with the beating of drums and cymbals, the beats of Sine Zani and Zanjeer Zani intensify, reaching their peak of excitement at the same time, the rhythm of the movements and the sounds increases while making it more passionate.

The manner of Sine Zani, Zanjeer Zani, and the related rhythmic movements are different in different cities. For example, there is more excitement in Azerbaijani processions. The rotational movements of the body and the balance of the hands and feet in these group are being rhythmic are impressive compared to the people of the south, especially Bushehr.

On the day of Ashura, when the time of the noon Azan arrives, the banners, signs, and flags are brought down, and the only piece of black cloth on which the name of the delegation is written is carried in front of the mourning procession.

In the processions of Sine Zani, the Nauhe Khawn (monodist) must recite the Nauhe. When the Nauhe Khwan begins the Nauhe, the mourners often perform Sine Zani and sometimes they adhere to Zanjeer Zani.

The connection of the Nauhe with the melody is more than Rawze. Since the poems of the Nauhe are written for the Sine Zani, it has rhythm and weight, which are performed with the melody of the sounds belonging to some parts of Iran and often take the form of ballads. "The Nauhe has been a very important factor in preserving and expanding our national music". Ahmed Azizi, the poet of the Masnavi sara-e-Inquilab, has included some works of the Nauhe in his book, Majmooa-e-Ashura'i, and has also mentioned the name of the appurtenances for the melody of the Nauhe. For example, in the appurtenance of triple chords: "Khorsheed-e-Anwar ra bebeen/ Ru be Meydaan ast// Zahra-e- Athari ra bebeen/ Deede giryan ast// Shabeeh-e-Piyambar ra bebeen/ Mah-e-Tabaan ast// Een Murg Pur-e-par ra bebeen/ Mu Pareeshan Ast / Durdane Asghar ra bebeen/ Khaste az Jaan ast// Shahzade Akbar ra bebeen/ Ru be Meydaan ast/"

It should be noted that the first poet who dedicated a part of his works to the Nauhe was Yaghmai Jandaghi (died 1276 AH). He brought innovations into Ashura poetry and created this type: "Mi Rasad Khushk Lab az Shatt-e-Furat, Akbar-e-man/ Naujawan Akbar-e-man// Sailabi bokun Ay Chashma-e-Chashm-e-Tar-e-man/ Naujawan Akbar-e-man// Kiswat-e-umr-e-tu ta een Kham-e-firuze namoon/ Laila Aaward be khoon// Geeti az Neel-e-Aza saakht Siyah Me'jar-e-Man/ Naujawan Akbar-e-man". People would recite these poems and perform Sine Zani.

During the day, the mourning processions move with drums, new tones, flags, banners, and the Katal, while at night they walk along with layers of lamps, Hijleh (bridal chambers), and flambeaus, performing Sine Zani with the sound of melody in the intervals of the processions..

Sources:[edit | edit source]

  • Shabani, Aziz; Shanasaee-e-Mosiqi-Irani, Tehran 1973
  • Mohammadzadeh Marzieh; Ashura dar Sher-e-Moaser wa farhang Aam'me; Tehran: Mujtama-e-Fikri-e-Ashura; 2010
  • Mashhoun, Hassan; Mosiqi-e-Mazhabi-e-Irani; Saazman-e-jashn-Hunar; 1971