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Puppet Play


Kheimeh-shab-bazi is the Iranian traditional puppetry which is performed in a small chamber. There are two people involved in the performance: a musical performer and a person called morshed. The dialogue is between morshed and the puppets.

Reasons for selection

There are different types of traditional and folk dramas in Iran. At first, Ta'zieh, Kheimeh-shab-bazi, and Takte-Howzi are introduced since they are theatrically more developed than other types of dramas. They are also regarded as an important part of Iran's cultural heritage.

Area where performed

All part of Iran

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Puppet Theatre

Detailed explanation

Today, what is performed as the Iranian Kheimeh-shab-bazi is one of the rarest forms of puppetry in the world. The method of performance, its characters and the techniques used in writing this puppet show make it unique and distinguish it from other types of puppetry.
1. In the Iranian puppetry, both puppets and men act. In fact, morshed, the musical performer and the puppets are equally involved in the performance and play roles.
2. Morshed is not just a narrator but also one of the characters. There is an emotional bond between morshed and the puppets. They are sometimes kind to each other and sometimes there is a conflict between them.
3. The puppet's treatment of morshed is contradictory: Morshed is regarded as an elder and a father whom all puppets even the champion and the king address as dear daddy. The puppets communicate with him as a character and ask for his permission to do anything.
4. The human criteria are not emphasized at all and it is always pointed out that these are just puppets made by man.
5. There is little communication between the puppets. Their movement is limited and rather the same. The puppets communicate with each other through their conversation with morshed. At times, Mobarak directly communicates with other puppets.
This puppet show is performed in different places and during the year. The plot is based on the old Iranian tales which are usually a combination of historical events and society's current affairs.

Publication and textual documentation

1991 Shabih-Khani.
Tehran: Namayesh Publication.

1991 Kheimeh-shab-bazi Puppet Theatre (article).
Tehran: Theatre Quarterly.

Audio documentation

already available

Visual documentation

already available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Tradition Theatre Association

Data provider

Ms. Laleh Taghian
Manager of Publication
Center of Dramatic Arts
Address: Vahdat Hall, Ostad shahnar St., Hatez Ave., Tehran, Iran