Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



Shahnameh of Ferdowsi is the Iranian national epic, which reflects the history, cultural values, sense of nationhood, and ancient religions of Persia by the only use of Persian pure words in the age of Arabic influence on the literature and science language. The footprint of this voluminous masterpiece has been seen in the different kinds of arts since its compilation and up to now; one of them is the penetration of Shahnameh’s verses in the art of storytelling that resulted in the formation of two types of performing arts: “Shahnameh-khani—singing the exact verses of Shahnameh from memory or from a book without any manipulation—and Naqqali of Shahnameh—narrating the stories of Shahnameh with special tone, feelings, expression, gestures, and movements.” These two forms of performing art have obvious differences but occasionally have been applied incorrectly. Shahnameh-khani and Naqqali of Shahnameh have had a prominent position in Persia, and there is a lot of evidence, such as Iranologists’ statements, travelers’ reports, and Iranian kings’ considerations, that clarifies their importance. Various formats and accompanied elements depend on the political policies of governments, time period, and geographical regions, which have led to creating four basic types of these two performing arts whose main differences are in the theme of the poems, accompaniment or non-accompaniment of music, and expression of the narrators and singers.