Bereavement ceremonies

Death and funerary rituals have a special significance among the Bakhtiari, one of the primary groups of pastoral nomads in modern Iran, [1]  What is much more significant among the Bakhtiari funeral rituals is that, in the funeral ceremonies of great men and chiefs, we can still observe old traditions that do not exist in other parts of Iran. [2]  The men, in traditional dress (chuqa), bring out their firearms and shoot in the memory of their chief.

Burial ceremony of A. Jafar Quli Rostami, Sareh Shah, Lali, Masjed Suleyman, Iran, April 2004 © Khosronejad

The toshmal (traditional musicians) play the chapi (left music), the traditional funeral music of the Bakhtiari; the professional male lamenters recite the Sorud and the Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings). [3] A man close to the deceased, dressed traditionally, leads a white mare that is decorated with coloured ribbons and the arms of the deceased around his Mafihgah (a special cubic memorial structure) or his Telesm.[4]

Funeral ceremony of a local chief  from the Chengayi tribe, Lali, Khuzestan, Iran, 1999 © Khosronejad

Burial ceremony of A. Jafar Quli Rostami, Sareh Shah, Lali, Masjed Suleyman, Iran, April 2004 © Khosronejad

Burial ceremony of A. Jafar Quli Rostami, Sareh Shah, Lali, Masjed Suleyman, Iran, April 2004 © Khosronejad

[1] The Bakhtiari are among the important nomadic tribal groups that have had a long connection with and influence on the political life of Iran during the last three centuries. They are a semi-nomadic people, living in the southwest of the Bakhtiari Mountains and migrating twice a year between their winter and summer pastures, leaving in spring and returning in autumn. They are Muslims of the Imamate (Twelver) branch of Shiism. For more information, see: Khosronejad 2013. [2] For more information, watch Khosronejad: 2004. [3] For more information, see: Khosronejad 2006; and Khosronejad 2011. [4] For more information on this ritual, watch: Khosronejad 2004.

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