Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Policies and Actions


National level agency/organisation dedicated to preservation and promotion of traditional/folk performing arts

National Association for Traditional Theatre

Prominent NGOs working in this field


Brief chronology-history

In Iran, the traditional and folk dramas are performed on special occasions including celebrations and mourning ceremonies. Kheimeh-shab-bazi and Takte-Howzi are performed in weddings and celebrations, and Ta'zieh in religious mourning ceremonies. The troupes performing such dramas, once dispersed throughout the country, have been paid attention since the Qajar dynasty, i.e. 150 years ago. These troupes have been well thought of by people although they have sometimes been banned from performing any plays during these years due to political reasons.

Ta'zieh, having been recognized and supported by the cultural organizations for the last 30 years, is performed in places called takyeh or even in the open air in certain months. Takte-Howzi is performed in special theatres. In recent years, a theatre was devoted to puppetry and Kheimeh-shab-bazi is constantly performed there too. Some short run courses teaching such dramas have been offered in the last 10 years.

The Centre of Dramatic Arts in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is a policy-making body responsible for planning and producing theatre throughout the country.
The centre consists of:
1. Administrative Department
2. The Plan Department. In this department, the experts in theatre adopt general policies concerning theatre and plan for theatre festivals according to the budget allotted every year.
3. The Theatre Administration. There are theatrical troupes, producing plays, the members of which are either employed or not but they enjoy the government's support.
4. Secretariat. The Centre of Dramatic Arts holds three festivals regularly in Tehran and a number of other festivals in other cities. The international Fadjr Theatre Festival, the Festival of the Traditional and Ritual Spectacles and the International Puppet Theatre Festival (biennial)are worth mentioning.
5. Publication Section. There are different departments in this section: a)the Office for Theatrical Research doing some studies in the Iranian theatre, b)Publication which is responsible for publishing books as well as catalogs and bulletins for festivals and theatres.
6. The Office for International Affairs. It is responsible for contacting theatrical troupes abroad and planning the international theatre festivals in Iran.
7. Public Relations. It is responsible for providing information in the field of theatre.
8. The Centre of Dramatic Arts has a number of halls for performances: a)City Theatre complex including five halls, b)Vahdat Hall, c)Honar Hall, d)Sangelaj Hall. It is mentionable that all plays to be performed in these halls are provided by the Centre of Dramatic Arts.

Legislation in this field

Does not exist

Category/types of performing arts

Shadow Play
Choob Bazi
Pahlavan Kachal
Baghal Bazi


Does not exist

Audio・visual documentation collection

Form of documentation: photograph, audio cassette, video cassette
Available for viewing/listening

Aspects of traditional/folk performing arts in education


Data provider

Ms. Laleh Taghian
Manager of publication
Theatre Research Office in the Center of Dramatic Arts
Address: Vahdat Hall, Ostad Shahriar St., Hafez Ave. Tehran, Iran