Tourist & Resident Guide to Iran

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tasbi (prayer beads)

tasbi (prayer beads)
Strings of prayer beads are known as tasbi in Iran and here are some on sale in Tajrish bazaar. Most often they are seen dangling from the hands of middle- to old-aged men who tend to fiddle with them rather aimlessly. However for devout grandmothers, they are indispensable tools for tallying the number of prayers required to get a grandson into university or a sister out of her sickbed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Remembering the Martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War

Remembering Iran's war dead
The scars of a war as devastating as the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) do not easily heal. Some counts put the number of Iranian casualties 300,000 with another 500,000 wounded. The number of Iraqi dead numbered round 375,000.

The Iranian establishment refers to the war as the “Iraq-imposed war” and Iran’s part in it is known as the “Sacred Defense”. Hence, Iran’s war dead are shahid (martyrs). Shiite Islam, so steeped in the culture of mourning, gives them a place alongside the paradigmatic holy victims; Imam Ali and Hossein.

Tehran is dotted with large painted murals commemorating the most famous of the Iraq war martyrs. Their fixed gazes tell nothing of the conflict that robbed them of their lives. The colours have faded with time but their complexions remain unaging.

Remembering Iran's war dead

Iranian Music CDs

Books on Iran

Guide to Tehran

Iranian Music: Daf

DafThe daf is the other of Iran’s indigenous drums – the other is the donbak which I’ve already talked about elsewhere. As you can see from the picture, the daf is a wide, circular, frame drum. Inside the frame of the drum are hundreds of metal rings in short chains. The player beats the drum with his fingers while supporting it in his palms. With the movement and beating of the daf, the rings inside the frame strike the skin – the same way as the springs of a snare drum work. The sound is a combination between a bass boom caused by the hand and a high-pitched crash from the rings. The daf is a drum for dancing to. Indeed, it is the drum to which Sufi mystics dance the whirling, trance-inducing dance known as sama.

Iranian Music CDs