Ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye
Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Country(ies): Iran (Islamic Republic of)
- Ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye
Ta‘zīye (or Ta’azyeh) is a ritual dramatic art that recounts religious events, historical and mythical stories and folk tales. Each performance has four elements: poetry, music, song and motion. Some performances have up to a hundred roles, divided into historical, religious, political, social, supernatural, real, imaginary and fantasy characters. Each Ta‘zīye drama is individual, having its own subject, costumes and music. Performances are rich with symbolism, conventions, codes and signs understood by Iranian spectators, and take place on a stage without lighting or decoration. Performers are always male, with female roles being played by men, and most are amateurs who gain their living through other means but perform for spiritual rewards. While Ta‘zīye has a prominent role in Iranian culture, literature and art, everyday proverbs are also drawn from its ritual plays. Its performances help promote and reinforce religious and spiritual values, altruism and friendship while preserving old traditions, national culture and Iranian mythology. Ta‘zīye also plays a significant role in preserving associated crafts, such as costume-making, calligraphy and instrument-making. Its flexibility has led it to become a common language for different communities, promoting communication, unity and creativity. Ta‘zīye is transmitted by example and word of mouth from tutor to pupil.
Decision 5.COM 6.21
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Ta‘zīye is an important ritual art of Iran through which the society transmits its cultural and religious values, providing it with a sense of continuity and creating links between different communities in Iran;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to strengthening regional ties and reinforcing ethical and cultural values, thereby promoting respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
- R.3: Current and proposed safeguarding measures have been elaborated, reflecting the combined efforts by the community, government authorities, NGOs and the private sector, and including the establishment of an archive and a museum, the restoration of traditional performance venues, transmission and promotion;
- R.4: The element has been nominated following the participation and contributions of the community of bearers and practitioners, who gave their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: Ta‘zīye is included in the National Inventory of Iran maintained by the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.
© 2009 by Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website