Bakhtiari graves – it’s not just men!

Lion tombstones in Chahar Mahal
Lion tombstones in Chahar Mahal: these warriors’ tombstones have shamshir (swords) and guns on them

This week, I thought some of you might like to see the trailer for Pedram Khosronejad’s film about Bakhtiari lion tombstones (click here: its 16 minutes).

This includes some fascinating testimony from some of the men who made the tombstones (up in situ, accommodated in tents for two or three months by the commissioning families – and paid with rams or sheep rather than money); as well as comments on why the lion stones are not being made now (including the lack of truly brave men nowadays); plus some footage of funeral ceremonies. I included a mourning chant in my mini-collection of Bakhtiari poetry:

You can see that this lady was a weaver. The small stones at the top are for family and friends to knock, when they want to 'visit'.
You can see that this lady was a weaver. The small stones at the top are for family and friends to knock, when they want to ‘visit’.

Many of you will have noticed how interested I am in lions and the Bakhtiari. I wrote previously about how lions in the Bakhtiari territories are classified as either Mussulman or Kaffir, and how Kaffir lions show no mercy, while it is worthwhile humbly supplicating Mussulman lions to leave you alone: “O cat of Ali, I am the servant of Ali.  Pass by my house (or family) by the head of Ali.”

But I want to also mention the hardworking and courageous Bakhtiari women. These women are commemorated by their families – as in the gravestone shown here. They also honour and remember their families – the small stones at the top of the grave-stone here are ready for ‘knocking’ on the grave, when someone ‘talks’ to their dead relatives. The lady in the photo here  regularly talked to her dead daughter when she was living in the winter pastures, and when I was walking the migration, we stopped at all the cemeteries along the way – partly as there was often good grass for the horses there, but also so everyone could catch up with any relatives or friends buried there.

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