Iran Traditional Sport

Zurkhaneh is well-known type of traditional Iranian sport that literally means house of power and strength. It is called to the physical structure where some kind of sports are performed and is today used for describing the sports as it is practiced today.

Zurkhaneh and Septet Arts

Each humane act leading to generation of conceptual and beautiful symbols is called art. In a classical category, art is divided to seven category.

  1. Architecture
  2. Arts and Crafts (carpet-weaving, sculpture, and …)
  3. Graphic Arts (Painting, Calligraphy, and …)
  4. Literary arts
  5. Music
  6. Physical Art (Dance, Martial Art, and …)
  7. Performing arts (Cinema, Theatre)

Considering these arts, traditional Iranian sport would be as following:

Zurkhaneh architecture is considerable for its symbolic concepts and beauty. It’s said that its architectural style is related to Mithraism.

Verses and literature is in traditional sport, special type of heroic used; which is sang by Morshed (Leader).

In traditional sport, music has an important role, this sport is known as most rhythmic kind of sport in the world.

Physical art also, in its most beautiful and conceptual form of it, is observed in traditional Iranian sport.

Meel carving, making Sang and “Kabbade”, and sew of traditional shorts and vests that are decorated, are also of margins of traditional sports.

Therefore five art, out of seven art, are assembled harmonious in this Iran’s cultural masterpiece.

Equipments and Instruments of traditional Iranian sport
Equipments and Instruments of traditional Iranian sport

Relationship between Mithraism and Zurkhaneh

There is a relationship between Mithraism and Zurkhaneh ; because:

  • Mithraism temples, like Zurkhaneh , always have been beside water.
  • In Mithraism, human passes a perfection procedure, which is also observed in mysticism, Esmaeilian Zurkhaneh .
  • Even wrestling can be considered as a sign of Mithra and sun wrestling.
  • And the most important one, architecture of Zurkhaneh dome, arena, and seats that is too similar to Mithraism temples.

The goal of Zurkhaneh  Sport surely is preparing people for participation in Pitched battles. Therefore it was held in camp, and probably it is turns to this form after advent of Islam.

Underground and popular being of Zurkhaneh , caused some researchers consider it sequent of an underground Resistance Movement. Some believe this revolt is founded by Mogols after being suppressed by Great Dariush, some also bond it to movement of Iranians against Alexander, Arabs, and Mogols.

Elements of Zurkhaneh

Typically, three elements can be considered in Zurkhaneh :

  • Being epic (all instrument of zoorlhane are with the aim of preparing peoples for battle).
  • Being popular (in the past, Zurkhaneh  has been totally owned by craftsmans of market)
  • Being valued (from Ancient till now, this sport have been mixed with poetry and different ceremonies).

Three principal content that already have been sang by Morsheds:

Scroll of pourya-ye vali (of course it is related to Pourya ye vali but is from Safavi age)

Gol Koshti masnavi – Mirnejate Isfahani (from Safavi age)

Gamjine-ye Koshti (Ghajar age)

Shahname of Ferdosi and Masnavi of Moftoon also have been beloved in Zurkhaneh .


History of Zurkhaneh

In legends founding of Zurkhaneh  is considered related to Poorya-ye Vali (700 years ago), that is not irrational. There is no document about existence of Zurkhaneh  before Mogol attack as today, but prosperity of Zurkhaneh  is because of support of kings of Safavi and Ghajar.

The oldest Zurkhaneh  that is still active in Iran is Khaje Khezr Zurkhaneh  in Yazd that belongs to Safavi age

Tehran also has 50 Zurkhaneh .

Heroic Sport have been held in Iran since 1938 legally and modern, and since 1959 have been globally and have had advocates in different countries.


Ranks and Titles

Kohne Savar or Veteran Rider (Master of Koshti art)

Pahlevan or Champion

Pish Khiz (senior of Zurkhaneh h and talented of Pahlavani)

Nokhasteh or Advanced Student

Nocheh or Novice


And also titles:

Morshed “Master” (beating the drum and reciting poetry)

Pish Kesvat “leader”

Jahan Pahlevan, the highest rank of Pahlevani in the Iranian army before the Arab invasion

Saheb Zang


Exercises and Techniques

Exercises and Techniques


Shena (Push-ups)

Narmesh (Stretching)

Kham-giri (Squatting)

Meel-baazi (Juggling)

Meel-geeri (Club practice)

Paa-zadan (Aerobics Conditioning)

Charkh (Whirling)

Kabbadeh-zadan (Bow practice)

Sang-giri (Shield practice)

Koshti’e Pahlavani (Pahlavani Wrestling)

Exercises and Techniques of traditional Iranian sport
Exercises and Techniques of traditional Iranian sport


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