Feminine characteristics of magical stories of Zoroastrian women in comparison with Persian examples (Case study: Aše ūmāčū)a

Article Type:
Case Study (بدون رتبه معتبر)

Oral stories have created an important role in Iranian folk culture. Iranians are interested in oral culture and are therefore the source of oral stories which have never been written, including, the fairy tales that have votive tablecloths along with the Dari Behdini language whose custodians are the Zoroastrian women.The origin of these stories with their Persian counterparts is the common homeland (Iran), but the characteristics of Dari Behdini's magical stories, in comparison with Persian stories, are based on feminine qualities, aspirations and interests, and men do not play an effective or positive role. However, in Persian examples, men and a male society are preferred. The major difference in the oral stories of Zoroastrian women is the importance of magical elements. Magic exists in all the stories (100%) and the only extraterrestrial being in these stories is the "fairytale". But magic in Persian oral stories has a share of less than one third (32.5%), while the text of Persian stories is full of a variety of magical creatures such as demons, giants, ghosts and so on.The use of Dari Behdini language by Zoroastrian women is another aspect of this research, because the Zoroastrian community of Iran is on the verge of extinction and their special language has been introduced as a language in danger of extinction. That is why the Zoroastrian women, who are eloquent speakers and have no lexical and linguistic connection with the non-Zoroastrian community outside their home, the Dari Behdini language is used in its pure form. In this regard, they are a good statistical community for recording languages and the magical stories of women. In addition, the votive tables set up by women in Iran have a magical structure and specific rules. For example, if a wish or intention is fulfilled and the votive table is not spread, an unexpected frightening event will surely await the wishful one. The traditions of Dari Behdini's tales also refer to the concepts, that if a wish is fulfilled by a fairy and then the vow is not fulfilled, an unpleasant event will surely occur, which is the cause of the unhappiness of the fairy tale.Vow in Zoroastrian culture is known by the word "Ustōfrīd", which is specifically interpreted as "vow to deities". But this word is common today only for "God of Mars/Bahrām" or going to the prayer center on the day of "Verhrām".In all of these stories, there is a woman in the lead role who spreads the tablecloth and performs the rituals carefully. In addition, there is a mythical and miraculous woman/fairy called the "owner of the votive table" who solves all the problems of the story and easily transforms complex situations.Real women (the audience) also follow the protagonist (the woman whose story is narrated), who spreads the votive table and carries out the ceremony.All votive tables have two features in common. First, holding and attending these tables is exclusive to women and second, they have a ritual form and structure. This article is about one of them known as "Ash Omacho (Shuli)"/"Āše Ūmāčū (Šūlī)". This story is popular among Zoroastrian women in Yazd and Kerman.The summary of the story of "Ash Omacho (Shuli)" is as follows:The protagonist is a cameleer girl who loses her camel while collecting medicinal plants and is forced to go to the mountains in search of her camel, where she meets three white-clad ladies. These women, who bake Omacho soup/Ash Omacho and traditional bread, tell the girl that if you have a wish and you want your wish to be fulfilled, she should help us cook Omacho soup. The girl obeys and does the same, and the white-clad women promise her that she will achieve her wish, provided that after finding her camel, she cooks Omacho soup and spreads the votive table.At night, the minister's son finds her camel and gives it to the girl. She takes her camel's bridle, thanks and offers Omacho soup to him. The minister's son falls in love with the girl and marries her.As the girl had promised the white-clad women to cook Omacho soup and spread the votive table, she puts a large cauldron on the fire so that she could cook Omacho soup. The minister's son, who sees the cauldron, gets angry and kicks the cauldron. The Omacho soup spills on the floor and on the minister's son's clothes and the soup on the clothes immediately turn into blood.Government officials, who found his clothes bloody, took him to prison for attempting to kill the king's son, and to be executed the following morning. The minister's son realizes his guilt and the disrespect to Ash Omacho's fairies and asks his wife for help.The girl also prays and asks for forgiveness and help from the three white-clad ladies. Finally, the three white-clad fairies prove the innocence of the minister's son to the officers and this is saved from execution.After that, the minister's son and his wife spread the votive table and cooked Omacho soup so that they could thank and appreciate the fairies.

Journal of Iranian Islamic Studies, Volume:11 Issue: 3, 2021
79 to 112
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