Ta'zieh or Shabih-Khani is one of the oldest and
most authentic traditions of theater in Iran.
It is a kind of theater based on agonizing life stories and fables of Islam's prophet, Muhammad.
Essentially, they are the events and atrocities
that confront Imam Hossein and his apostles in
the Karbala desert during the Moharram of '61
Hejry (Lunar Calendar).
Although solely religious theatrics at its inception,
Ta'zieh soon thereafter encompassed other forms
of folklore, thus assuming an entertaining characteristic.
Ancient Iranian rituals and ceremonies are at
the root of Ta'zieh, specifically Soog-e-Syavash
(a sacred theatrical mourning ritual). Syavash
was an Iranian mythological hero whose destiny
was marked by tragedy and destitution. Upon his
death, a mesmerizing hymn commemorated Syavash's
sad tale. The hymn maintained its importance up
to the 3rd century (Hejry), apparently from the
All-e-Booyeh Dynasty and on. As a result of the
growth of the Shi'ite movement it became a part
of the Shi'ite Persian ritual.
During the Safavi-yeh Dynasty (10th century),
Ta'zieh's popularity grew tremendously as it took
a more theatrical form; by the end of the Zandi-yeh
Dynasty (11th century) it had taken on a form approximate
to its contemporary one.
Today, Ta'zieh is not just an exhibition of religious
narration. Composed simply, each Ta'zieh-Nameh
(script), through a rhymed didactic presentation,
independently expresses the various religious
myths of Karbala's ten day journey. The central
theme of these plays is the conflict between good
and evil, or right and wrong, persevering for
the belief of Heavenly Justice. The protagonist
of a Ta'zieh prefers death over life lived under
Through a non-naturalistic approach, Ta'zieh presents
familiar concepts and ideas to its audience. Concurrently
it does not use a symbolic language that needs
interpretation. While the techniques of performance
do not represent commonly understood everyday
living experiences, the play is comprehensible
to a lay audience through the use of costumes,
decorations, accessories and props.
Ta'zieh, with its peculiar form of performance,
confirming a kind of moral, religious and ideological
order, is able to invoke an emotional reaction
from the audience. They become engaged in a frame
of mind that mourns Hossein's martyrdom. As a
member of the audience, one finds an intense connection
between oneself and the actors. It is this emotional
and spiritual relationship that is unique in the
world of theater.
The movie Ta'zieh: Another Narration is a documentary
film about Ta'zieh. Theater experts and theoreticians
analyze and criticize part of Imam-Hossein's and
Hazrat-e Abbass Ta'zieh, which are typically performed
in rural villages of northern Iran (i.e. the Shavy
Lasht region in the Mazandaran province). Moreover
this film contains all the significant and unique
elements and characteristics of this form of sacred-ritual
play. It uses comparative analysis of Ta'zieh
and the modern art of theater and the place of
Ta'zieh in the Iranian contemporary theater.
The most significant elements discussed in the
- The creation and the development of Ta'zieh
in Iran (the mythological and religious roots
- The characteristics of Taziyeh scripts, based
on this poetical expression, their literal values,
their sense of historical legitimacy and their
- The symbolism used in Taziyeh.
- The stage accessories and props such as costumes,
armories, horses, etc.
- The relevance of time and space in reference
- The acting style in Taziyeh (differences between
"Actors Of The Good" (Movafeg-Khanha)
and "Actors of the Evil" (Mokhalef-Khanha).)
- The directing of Taziyeh.
- The performance technique in Taziyeh.
- The use of "Alienation" technique
- The relationship between Ta'zieh and Naghali
(Narrating epic myths while employing pictures
painted on curtains) tradition and Ferdowsi’s
The film was shown on Canadian television on the Learning and Skills channel in the Fall of 2003.
The film was selected for the 44th Festival dei Popoli in Florence, Italy and the First Iranian.com Festival in Berkeley, CA, both in late 2003, and the third annual Tiburon International Film Festival in Tiburon, CA in early 2004.