Some lyrics of Shahnamehkhani

                 Some lyrics of Shahnamehkhani, recited by Master Behruz Ahmadi [1]

In the name of the Lord of both wisdom and mind,                          به نام خداوند جان و خرد

To nothing sublimer can thought be applied,                                         کزین اندیشه بر نگذرد

The Lord of whatever is named or assigned,                                        خداوند نام و خداوند جان

A place, the Sustainer of all and the Guide,                                          خداوند روزیُ و رهنمای

The Lord of Saturn and the turning sky,                                          خداوند کیهانُ وگردون سپهر

Who causeth Venus, Sun, and Moon to shine,                                   فروزنده ماه و ناهیدُ و مهر

Ferdowsi, the noble birth, recites,                                                         چنین گفت فردوسی پاکزاد

Blessing goes to his tomb [i.e. Ferdowsi],                                       که رحمت برآن تُربت پاک باد

Everyone who recites [i.e. reads] the Shahnameh,                    هرآن کس که شاهنامه خوانی کند

Even a woman, can be a hero, [2]                                                              اگرزن بوُد پهلوانی کند

If the earth began to talk of its secrets,                                           زمین گر گشاده کند راز خویش

After all it would let us know the history of its creation,                   نماید سرانجام آغاز خویش

You would find [i.e. among its secrets] the history

of many who have been crowned,                                                            کنارش پُرازتاجداران بُود

Also the accounts of the blood of

many riders [i.e. dead heroes], [3]                                                         بَرَش پُرزخون سواران بُود

No one can retain his fortune and lucky days forever,                  که بَرکس نماند همی روز بخت

Nor his treasures, his crown, nor also his kingdom,                    نه گنجُ، نه دیهیم، نه شاهُ، نه تخت

Therefore, in this world simply possessing a good

name is useful,                                                                                               همی نام جاوید باید به کام

Abandon your wishes and simply try to create a

good name for yourself, [4]                                                                          بیانداز کامُ وبرافراز نام

Alas, alas,                                                                                                                      ای دادُ و بیداد

I hear a very painful song from afar, it says:                                    : سرُآیند یکی قصّه ای دردناک

all of the warlike lions are sleeping, [5]                                            که شیران جنگی بخُفتند به خاک

If I wanted to tell you stories about the lions,                                    ز شیران اگر من حکایت کنم

I could write more than two hundred books, [6]                            به دفتر دویست سَر رِوایت کنم

When the thicket becomes empty of lions,                                       چو بیشه تُهی گشت از نرّه شیر

So you will see jackals there, [7]                                                              شُغالان درآیند به بیشه دلیر

O you, the athletic lion’s son, lion’s whelp,                                          که ای پهلوان زاده بچّه شیر

No mother could give birth to a more lion-hearted,

brave and athletic son than you, [8]                                                نزآید دگر چو تو شیرمرد و دلیر

During hard times do not be hopeless,                                                   به هنگام سختی مشو ناامید

From the black cloud [i.e. always] we will have

clear and clean water, [9]                                                                                زابرسیه بارد آب سپید

Nothing good can be created by one hand alone,                                     زدست تُهی برنیاید هُنر

If the neck of the male lion (shir-e nar) is broken, [10]                        اگر بشکند گردن شیر نر

When in the mountains, lion, I call out your name,

the mountains tremble,                                                                        به کوه، شیر لرزد زنامت هنوز

It makes no difference where you are,

whether it is night or day,                                                          چه فرقست پیشت شب است یا که روز

I seek the tracks of their horses,                                                                 کنم جُستجو رد اسبانشان

The place where they come to a halt has

the scent of their zeal, [11]                                                                  دهد بوی غیرت جای اُطراقشان

Alas, where are all the male lions?                                                             دریغا کجا آنهمه شیرنر؟

The Berno [12] firearms and bay horses?                                              تفنگهای بِرنُوو اسبان کهر؟

That plant which grows everywhere

 [i.e. in the mountains and in the fields],                                             گیاهی که روید زبوم و زِبَر

Gives zeal the scent of male lions,                                                         دهد بوی غیرت زشیران نر

Choqakhor, Andika, Golgir and Lali,                                                  چغاخُور، اندیکا، گلگیرو لالی

All have become empty of male lions, [13]                                         تمام از نّره شیران گشته خالی

Add a mark in the history of Iran,                                                         به تاریخ ایران زنید این رغم

Greatness is left in our men,                                                                     بزرگی زمردان ما گشته کم

From the nimble unique rider [i.e. riders]

 of Great Persia [i.e. Bakhtiari country],                                                   ازآن تکسوارایران زمین

Alas, [i.e. also] from those brave hanged men (sarbedar),                 دریغا ازآن سربداران دلیر

From brave celebrated men, now one is left,                                        زنام آوران نام داری برفت

From nimble riders, now, one is left,  [14]                                          زچابُکسواران سواری برفت

Alas, from these days of bad fortune,                                                    ای دادوبیداد از این روزگار

Alas, from these days of bad fortune,                                                    ای دادوبیداد از این روزگار

What happened to the memory of:

good days, companions and heroes?                                       یاد ایام، یاد یاران، یادمردان را چه شد؟

Why does nobody talk any more about lions?                                        صحبت شیران را چه شد؟

What happened to that great hero of warriors? [15]                                آن یل دلیران را چه شد؟

Two fighters, two men, two brave lions,                                            دوجنگی، دو مرد و دو شیردلیر

I do not know whose back will touch the earth.                               چه دانم که پُشت که آید به زیر؟

In such a battlefield with the presence of

these two roaring lions,                                                                       چنین رزمگاهی که غُّران دوشیر

Who are fighting with such bravery,                                                        بجنگند ودرآیند هر دو دلیر

Even if a year has one thousand days,                                                   اگر سال گردد فزون ازهزار

Still this is the way and this is the work [i.e. war].                          همین است راهُ و همین است کار

[1] Masjed Suleyman, 2003. [2] In Bakhtiari society most of the heroic stories talk about male heroes (pahlavan). Generally speaking, in Iranian popular culture women are presented as weak (za’ifeh) and fearful (tarsu). Here, therefore, the importance of the Book of Kings, the Shahnameh, and its stories are emphasized: ‘This book is for heroes and those who would like to be and live like heroes, even if its readers are women.’ [3] Here the singer is saying that the Shahnameh is one of the most complete written histories of the world (i.e. Persia) and that those who read it can find in it many secrets (rāz) from the early periods of Iranian history; for example, stories about lucky kings and princes (tājdārān). However, not all the world’s stories (i.e. the Shahnameh) have happy endings; it also contains sad stories about wars and the death (i.e. khun) of brave men and heroes (savārān). Here, as these lyrics are recited as lamentation, the singer is announcing the death of an important man. [4] In this life, all creatures will die one day and no-one can retain their title, goods or money in the other world, not even a king (shah). Therefore, try to be a kind person and create a good reputation for yourself in this world; then, after your departure, all will commemorate you and your kind acts. [5] Someone is saying: ‘I am hearing a very sad and deep weeping – gageriveh – from afar as the sign of the death of the great men of the clan. All of them (shiran-e jangi) are sleeping on the ground.’ In Persian literature, sleeping or lying down on the earth (behkhoftand beh khāk) is the sign of death. Here again the lamenter announces to us that we are at the funeral ceremony of one of the great men of society. [6] Amongst the Bakhtiari, there are many stories about the bravery of lion-like men (shirmardan) who have sacrificed their lives for their tribe. Therefore, no one can collect all these stories in one book only. [7] When there are no more brave men and heroes – lions – in our tribe (that is, all have been killed), it is a good time for hypocritical people (i.e. riyākār) to show themselves in society. In Persian literature the jackal symbolises a hypocritical person. [8] Alas, for the departure of these young heroes of the tribe (bacheh shir) and the brave men who died on the battlefield. They were the last generation of our idols and society will no longer see the likes of such lion-hearted men. [9] Do not worry if brave men and heroes are no longer amongst us, as one day we will have heroes and warriors amongst us again. [10] After the death (garden-e shekasteh) of the lion-hearted men and the heroes of the tribe, how can the tribe alone (dast-e khāli) resist its enemies? The lamenter is saying that with the departure of this great man, the tribe will be left without a chief and hero; what shall be done without him? [11] Even today, after your death (shirmardan), when we talk about you and your heroic life the whole of the Bakhtiari tribe will be impassioned. Today, even though you are not amongst us, in every single place where you have passed by with your horses or where you fought we can still hear of your bravery. [12] ‘A type of Mauser rifle which was selected for the Iranian army during Reza Shah’s time. However, Iran did not take for the original German and ordered the identical Czechoslovakian version, the so-called Brno. These rifles are known to collectors as Persian CZ98, Persian Mauser or Persian Brno. This rifle was especially cherished by Iranian tribes, who are known to be gun lovers and able shooters. A tribesman sharpshooter would settle for nothing less than a Brno. Tribal rebels did everything to acquire one of these rifles, and they did get their hands on these in many tribal wars during Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah’s time. And probably the tribal chieftains, or khans, did get shipments from foreign sources, to be distributed among their savars (mounted fighters). One single event, which contributed to the widespread availability of Brno rifles among the tribes in Iran, was the fall of Reza Shah following the invasion of Iran by the Allied forces in 1941. At that time the Iranian army, after a short resistance, was almost disbanded and many people, especially tribesmen, got hold of the Brnos left after the soldiers abandoned the barracks. There are many stories of the gun’s accuracy among the tribes [i.e. Bakhtiari]. When Dadshah rebelled against the shah’s government in Baluchistan in the 1950s, people said that his wife, Bibi Khatoon, who accompanied him in the mountains, at one occasion, took her Brno and shot a bullet right into the barrel of the gun of a poor gendarme who was aiming at her at a long distance. Its popularity among Iranian tribes was so much that it was mentioned in some of their songs. A version of a well-known Boyer Ahmad song has a refrain that says “Mastom, Mastom, Brno kootah be dastom” (I’m drunk and have a short Brno in my hand).’ (21/02/2015). [13] Alas, today there are no longer any heroes and brave men (shir-e nar) amongst the Bakhtiari. In their absence (i.e. death) their beautiful and prestigious horses (asbeh kahar) and their firearms (tofanghāy-e berno) have also disappeared. Today in Bakhtiari society one can no longer find any brave men who keep the zeal (gheyrat) of tribal society; only a few places and only a few people can remind one of their bravery. In Choqakhor, Andika, Golgir and Lali, where these great Bakhtiari heroes once lived, nowadays not even one of them (shir-e nar) can be found. After the mass disarmament of the nomads of Iran in general, and in this particular case the Bakhtiari (1923), they were forced to settle. A lot of oral poetry and history exists among the Bakhtiari which relates, ‘Since our men had no more firearms and no more good horses, they preferred to die rather than to live like women.’ There is a famous Bakhtiari saying: ‘A Bakhtiari man should be born on the back of a horse [i.e. a rider] with a firearm in his hand [i.e. a fighter], and should also die in the same position.’ Since those days, there have been no serious wars and battles in which Bakhtiari men could prove their bravery; therefore, this piece of poetry can also be interpreted as a reminder of these periods of the Bakhtari’s lives, when they no longer possessed firearms (berno) or good, prestigious horses. [14] This part of the lamentation tells us that we should include in the history of Persia (i.e. Bakhtiari society) the sad reality that there are no more great men, heroes and chiefs among us. While one day there were many brave men and warriors, today most of them have died on the battlefield or have been assassinated (sarbedār) by enemies. Today we are present in this funeral ceremony as again one of our great heroes has left us forever; he was one of the greatest and best-known warriors (chāboksavār). [15] This part of the lamentation relates that today we are living in hard times and times of bad fortune in which there are no longer any heroes and warriors (dalirān, shirān), and asks why nobody tries to keep their good memory and the history of their bravery in mind.


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