Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals.
Posted in 2010 in the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Pahlevani is an Iranian martial art that brings together the various elements of Islam, Gnosticism and ancient Persian beliefs. It describes a ritual collection of gymnastic and calisthenics movements performed by ten to twenty men, each with instruments that symbolize ancient weapons. The ritual takes place in Zoorkhane or the House of Strength, a sacred dome structure with an octagonal submerged arena and seats for the public. The Morshed (master) who leads the Pahlevani ritual performs epic and gnostic poems and beats time on a drum called zarb. The poems he recites convey ethical and social teachings and are part of Zoorkhanei literature. Participants in the Pahlevani ritual can be drawn from any social or religious strata, and each group has close ties to their local community, working to help those in need. During the training, students are instructed on ethical and chivalrous values under the supervision of a Pīshkesvat (veteran, Dean). Those who master individual skills and arts, observe religious principles, and pass the ethical and moral stages of Gnosticism can acquire the prominent rank of Pahlevanī (hero), indicating rank and authority within the community. At present, there are 500 Zoorkhanes all over Iran, each made up of practitioners, founders and a number of Pīshkesvat.