For those interested in literature and the art of the ancient
Historically speaking, storytelling has not been limited to men who recited the stories of “the Letter of Kings” (Shahnameh) of the poet Ferdowsi accompanied with music and rhythmic movements. Ali Farhadpour names the first female narrator as Azadeh, the court musician of King “Bahram-e Goor” of Sassanid dynasty. There were others, for example, Somieh the Narrator of Shahname, the sister of Saladin Ayoubi, Ferdowsi’s wife, and also the daughter of Mullah Sadra, Mullah Fatemeh Naghal during the reign of Karimkhan-e Zand and the Mentor Belghis. Farhadpour criticises the use of the first narrator of Shahnameh in these days. This theatre expert describes the features of today’s female narrators as well.
Mr Farhadpour, in your opinion how do you define Shahnameh narration (Naghali in Persian-translator) and what is the history of it?
As Bahram Bayzaei has stated, narration of events in the pre-Islamic
According to Bayzaei and other scholars, “Naghali” was also recognised by other terms such as: “Khonyagary” (music playing), “Rameshgary” (minstrelsy) , “Ghavali”(quotation), “Maddahi” (Praising), “Marekehgiri” (crowd entertaining) and “Vagooyeh” (reciting). Naghali encapsulate all of these terms. Emergence of narration must have been since human being started talking and the first female or first male narrator are not known either.
In some articles on narration, other than talking about male narrators or female narrators are also mentioned and at times refer to a female narrator as “the first”. Do you think this terminology is right?
This term is an insult to the History of Iran and the female narrators who have been doing narration in the past; as it is impossible to pinpoint the first male or first female narrators. According to my observation, for the first time in a gathering, Ms Shirin Emami was introduced as the first female narrator and then five female narrators were introduced as the first female narrator of
What do you mean by that?
I mean that having regard to the fact that narration is going back to pre-historic era, and at that time there was no script developed, therefore there is no record of the male or female narrators and it is impossible to say who the first male narrator of
It is possible to qualify by saying the first narrator whose name is mentioned in the history was Azadeh, the court musician of King Bahram-e Goor of the Sassanid Dynasty. After her, there were other important women in the Iranian history; like Somieh the Shahnameh Reader, Sister of Saladin Ayoubi, the wife of Ferdowsi, who is the first female narrator of Shahnameh; daughter of mullah Sadra, Mullah Fatemeh Naghal, during Karimkhan-e Zand dynasty; and Mentor Belghis: and pre and post- Islamic Republic narrators.
Can you name the contemporary narrators?
Nowadays many women do narration. Examples are Ms Fatemeh Habibi Zad (Gordafarid), Ms Saghi Aghili (Neda-afarid) who mixes the narration with image making and body movements; Ms Marjan Sadeghi, Ms Shirin Emami, Ms Mina Saremi and also Ms Aram Ghasemi who has mixed the narration with technology.
Amongst the most important male narrators, we can name Mentor Vali-ollah Torabi who in terms of articulation and image making has an important role in the introduction and advancement of the current narration; Mentor Seyed Mostafa Saeidi whose narrative is mostly rhetorical, and provoke in the audience feelings and thoughts; and Mentor Davood Fathali Baygi whose narration is mixed with a type of emotional game.
What are the features of female narration?
It is possible to say that the male narrators just talk; because of the paternalistic nature of
Female narrator on the contrary can do the job but much less, particularly so, in
With your experience as a scholar and witnessing the narration by male and female narrators, in your opinion, is there any difference in what women choose from Shahnameh to narrate and what men select to do so? Do female narrators emphasise on a particular part of Shahnameh or not?
You have noted a particularly excellent issue: the difference do exist and when women learn the narrative scrolls from their mentors, or copy from books, when compared to male narrators, pick up the more sensitive, more emotional and more subtle parts and can be said more attractive part of Shahnameh.
In today’s world and the advent of modern media facilities, like the internet, do you think narration has still a part to play?
This is an important question. In my view, narration can be made up to date as theatre is done; in a way that can be filmed with cameras and record the voice and disseminate around the world for people with disability, the blind and so on. Narration can have social application and even for teaching at schools and many concepts can be taught through narration.
These are the points that narration can use so that it can be made up to date in the contemporary world and to improve and better presented and progress forward.
Mr Farhadpour, my last question relates to you personally. What happened that you became interested in narration and female narration and what are you engaged at the moment in this regard?
During my time at the university, I was working on the history of theatre in
At present, having a Master’s degree in theatre conducting I am engaged in research into the expansion of narration in the world. This expansion is facilitated through the formation of a group called “the Modern Narration Group”.
“The Modern Narration Group” has a series of production similar to pedagogy theatre (that is well recognised in
Interview by: Shirin Jazayeri
Scribe: Bahman Mehrdad
Translator: Dr. Hossein Riazi
Thanks for: Nima Ghanbarzadeh
:naghali trainig in modern group naghali blog 2 to the following address