Naqqāli is the oldest form of dramatic performance in Iran and has long played an important role in society, from the courts to the villages. The performer – the Naqqāl – recounts stories in verse or prose accompanied by gestures and movements, and sometimes instrumental music and painted scrolls.
Naqqāls function both as entertainers and as bearers of Persian literature and culture and need to be acquainted with local cultural expressions, languages and dialects, and traditional music. Naqqāli requires considerable talent, a retentive memory, and the ability to improvise with the skill to captivate an audience. The Naqqāls wear simple costumes, but may also don ancient helmets or armored jackets during performances to help recreate battle scenes. Female Naqqāls perform before mixed audiences. Until recently, Naqqāls has been deemed the most important guardians of folk-tales, ethnic epics, and Iranian folk music. Naqqāli was formerly performed in coffeehouses, tents of nomads, houses, and historical venues such as ancient caravanserais. However, a decline in the popularity of coffeehouses, combined with new forms of entertainment, has resulted in diminishing interest in Naqqāli performance. The aging of master performers (morsheds) and the decreasing popularity among younger generations have caused a steep drop in the number of skilled Naqqāls, threatening the survival of this dramatic art.
Naqqāl & Improvisation
نبرد رستم و اشکبوس اجرای استاد امیر صادقی.
داستان مبارزه گردآفرید، پهلوان زن ایرانی با سهراب
Naqqāl is known as the preserver of Folklore, epic poetry, and Folk music. Naqqāl or Naqqāl-Bashi is a person who narrates epic prose or epic poetry about Iranian kings and champions. Naqqāl needs a lot of talent to memorize poetry or any other texts, as well as managing an improvised speech. Also, Naqqāl must be able to encourage the audience to listen to their story. One of the most famous improvisations of Iranians is about Amir Arsalan Namdar which was narrated by Naqib ol Mamalek. Naqib ol Mamalek was the Naqqāl of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar.
Coffeehouse-painting & Naqqāli
Naqqāli used to perform in coffeehouses or historical places like caravansaries. Naqqāl narrates with music and explaining inscriptions. A cane and a stool are the only tools require to perform. By that time, the painters began to draw what the Naqqāl narrated. At this time, the Coffeehouses-painting was born in the history of Naqqāli. Then the paintings that were hung on the wall became the new tools of Naqqāli.
شاهنامه خوانی به زبان روسی در شب بزرگداشت حکیم فردوسی
Reading Shahnameh in Persian and Russian