Reviews

A particularly active collector of Tajik oral traditions (see my reviews of his works, and of his journal Mardumgiyah, in past issues of Abstracta Iranica) proposes a selective description of customs from his native place, a Persian-speaking rural area of southern Uzbekistan (especially from the village of Pasurkhi), among which varied instances of the veneration of the ritual purity of water and fire, and of the cult of their respective spirits (jin u pari), and an elaborated ceremony locally called charagh-i Sulayman (‘Salomon’s lamp’) in which sacred fire is used by learned women (known as bibi mulla, or in some villages qushnach) to heal mental troubles allegedly caused by the pollution of running water—with references to the more Islamised rituals of Bibi Seshanba (“Lady Tuesday”) and Bibi Mushkil-Gusha (“Lady Problem-Solver”) as they are now again openly practiced in Transoxiana.  The ceremonial use of fire is associated by the author with ancient purification customs linked with seasonal transhumance from summering places (locally called bagh) to wintering villages (qishlaqs).  It is noticed that campfires are also present in wrestling competition still very popular in the Boysun area, as well as in the rituals of wedding, circumcision, Nawruz and similar rites of passage.  Last, varied elements of mourning rituals are backed by the author to Firdawsi’s Shahnama, the telling of which (with insistence on Rustam’s cycle) constitutes a prominent feature of local evening get-togethers:  In the village of Pasurkhi, they claim that Barzu, Rustam’s son, was originally a landowner from Boysun, and the old men talk about him as “Barzu the dehqan”.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.G-681