Traditional Iranian Martial Arts (Varzesh-e Pahlavani)

Glossary of Terms

Bazoo-band Armlet. An armlet given to the Pahlavan of the nation by the Shah on the first day of the Iranian new year (March 21st) as a recognition of his Pahlavani championship.
Ferdowsi The greatest Iranian mythical poet/historian and the author of the epic work Shah-nameh, the Book of Kings.
Gol Rizan In English it literally means "Flower Throwing." In Pahlavani tradition it means a gathering upon which all Pahlavans and veterans join together in a Zoorkhaneh in order to do fundraising for the Zoorkhaneh or another worthy cause. Additionally, there will be a Pahlavani practices and exhibitions. From time to time, there will also be a wrestling amongst Pahlavans.
Jahan Pahlavan A rank of Pahlavani in the Iranian army before the Islamic Era. A title given to Rostam, the legendary Pahlavan of Ferdowsi's Shah-nameh. The contemporary Gholamreza Takhti is another Pahlavan who is given this title.
Khorasan The largest province of Iran with national borders with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. It is the birthplace of local brand of wrestling named Koshti Choukheh.
Koshti Wrestling
Mazandaran One of Northern provinces of Iran bordering the Caspian Sea. According to Ferdowsi's Book of Kings, many of Rostam's epic stories occurred in Mazandaran. It is also the birthplace of a local brand of wrestling named Koshti Loocho
Meels One of the apparatus used in Pahlavani exercises. It is a pair of wooden clubs that evolved from ancient mace.
Mithraism A religion that appeared in Iran during the Parthian Empire rivaling Christianity. Varzesh-e Pahlavani takes many of its rituals from Mithraism.
Morshed A person inside Zoorkhaneh who chants historic stories specially from Shahnameh (The Book of Kings). Morshed literally means one who guides. In Zoorkhaneh, he plays the drum and conducts the rhythmic music. All Pahlavani exercises are synchronized with Morshed's drum, both individually and in group exercises where group coordination is needed.
Pahlavan Heroes of Varzesh-e Pahlavani. There are several types of Phalavans:
  • Pahlavans of the Shah's courts/palaces. Many of these were the official Pahlavans of Iran.
  • Master wrestlers/strong men known as Pahlavan-e Zoorgar.
  • Our modern wrestlers, many of them World and Olympic Champions as well as the winners of the Pahlavani Armlet (the national Pahlavan of Iran).
  • Finally, Pahlavans such as Pahlevan-e Bozorg Razaz, Pahlavan-e Bozorg Pouriyay-e Vali, Pahlavan Boluorfroush, Pahlavan Toosi, and Jahan Pahlavan Thakhti. These Pahlavans were masters of the Pahlavani tradition. They observed all the moral and ethical values which were mentioned earlier, and at the same time they were probably among the best wrestlers in the world.

    This group of Pahlavans is considered by many historians to include true Pahlavans who represent this rich tradition. There are probably about twenty Pahlavans in the history of Iran that fall into this special category.

In the Indian literature, it is written as Pahalwan, and it refers to strong men and wrestlers.

Pahlavan-e Bozorg A rank of Phalavani. It literally means Grand Pahlavan. The most equivalent title in the oriental martial arts could be the Grand Master. It is only given to two or three Pahlavans such as Pouriyay-e Vali and Seyyed Hassan Razaz, also known as Pahlavan-e Bozorg Shoja-at.
Parthia The vast territory under the control of the Parthian Empire (247 BC - 226 AD) including today's Iran.
Qum A holy city 160 Km. south of Tehran. One of the cradles of Varzesh-e Pahlavani.
Shahzadeh Related to a shah of Qajar family. It literally means a Prince, a son or daughter of the king.
Shi'ah A branch of Islam. It recognizes Ali, Prophet Mohammad's cousin, as the only true and legitimate successor (Imam) to Prophet Mohammad. The followers are called Shiites. The vast majority of the Iranians are Muslims of the Shiite sect.
Sufi A devout follower of School of Sufism. Sufism is a mystical and spiritual sect of Islam.
Tehran Capital of Persia and later Iran since early nineteen century.
Varzesh-e Bastani It literally means the Ancient Sport. It mistakenly refers to Varzesh-e Pahlavani.
Varzesh-e Pahlavani Traditional Iranian Martial Arts
Vatan Homeland, nation.
Yazd A pre-Islamic city and region located in Central Iran next to Dasht-e Kavir (Kavir Desert). It is also the city with the largest number of Zoroasterians.
Zoorkhaneh The place where rituals of Varzesh-e Pahlavani are practiced.

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