Over the years, Iranian Storytelling (Naqali) has been divided into various kinds and it has taken many different functions. Among them, Religious Storytelling has been assigned a propagandistic function. It was used as a device for the promoting Shiite and Sunnite Religions. There are many branches in Iranian religious Storytelling; Manaqeb Xani and Fazayel Xani are two to be noticed. This article is focused on both of these two types. Knowing that, Storytelling is an oral art and less attracting in spite of Ta‘ziyeh for many years, the threat of being forgotten is undeniable as the role of Storytellers in the society is diminishing. Therefore, it is essential to pay more attention and evaluate this art through documented studies and researches.
Noticeable is that, these arts affect many Ta‘ziyeh’s plays with great roles in Iranian religious performances. Thus, in order to study Iranian drama, we need to have a comprehensive knowledge about Iranian Storytelling. The word uses information sources including books, articles, and masters of the field, who devoted many years to study rituals and custom and preserve them through ages. Moreover, they do their best to record these arts and make them a reliable document for future use.
An Introduction to Iranian Storytelling
Beside Xeymə šab-bāzī and Ta’zīya, Storytelling (Naqqālī) is the most important type of Iranian real performance, that through ages is has become part of Iranian life and it is considered as a part of their spiritual cultural legacy. This art has an old antiquity and rooted in ancient Iran. Storytelling has been widespread during Aškānīyān’s (250 B.C.-224 A.D.) and Sāsānīyān’s (224-651 A.D.) eras and it is believed to be belonged to these eras or even earlier.
In proving popularity of Storytelling and retelling of national narration, Mahjub (“Maqāle Amūzišī” 69) relied on two different documents; first it is by Mary Boyce who has many writings about epical stories of east of Iran which are mingled with epic poems of Sasaniyan dynasty, which musicians and poets - called Gowsān - sang these stories with their own melodies (Boyce 10-45).
The other document is an introduction to Šāhnāmə Abūmansūrī . In writing this masterpiece, “Abumansur invited Dihgāns ordered to gather sages and experienced masters from all over the country [...]to narrate kings’ history and adventure, their era of justice, injustice, riots, and Kīyūmars’s’ wars who was the first man to bring manhood manners and made distinction between men and animal until the time of Yazdgird who was the last king of non-arabs” (Qazvīnī 35-36).
By extending its reign over Iran, Islam not only made Storytelling diminished but new versions of religious storytelling emerged and the art continued its way stronger than before. At this period stories of heroes who lived before Islam were combined with Islamic stories. For example Šāhnāmə’s stories combined with Qisas al-Anbīyā and we observe that Jamšīd became similar to...