Traditional Iranian Martial Arts (Varzesh-e Pahlavani)

Misconceptions, Misinformation and Misrepresentations

If there is one tradition in the Iranian sports and her social structure that has been misrepresented the most, both in Iran and abroad specially before the eyes of the Western scholars, it is the Traditional Iranian Martial Arts or Varzesh-e Pahlavani.

In this short summary, we will illustrate some of the misconceptions, misinformation and misrepresentations about Varzesh-e Pahlavani. Each category is defined and some of its sources of error have been identified.

Before we can review the list of misconceptions, we would like to explain that the reasons for them can be attributed to several factors which, once superimposed, have contributed a great deal to the confusion we face when we study Pahlavani tradition. We cite some of these factors as follows:

Misconceptions, Misinformation and Misrepresentations
Category Citing/Case/Event
An incorrect interpretation of events. Misunderstanding of facts -- most of the time quite innocently and due to lack of knowledge.
  • A Madman Called Mossadegh
  • House of Deception
  • Iranian Tradition, not Arabic/Islamic
  • Tatoo and Knifing
  • Women in Zoorkhaneh
  • Mythical Pahlavans, not Real History
  • Misinformation:
    Wrong or inaccurate information -- sometimes with prejudice
  • Habibullah Bolour's Articles
  • Teyeb Haj Rezai
  • Homa Airline Magazine
  • Ancient Sport (Varzesh Bastani)
  • Indian Club
  • Misrepresentations
    To give incorrect or misleading representation.
  • The Original Sin
  • Shaban "the Brainless"
  • Foreign Dignitaries at Zoorkhaneh
  • Professor Christian Barnard's Book
  • Mr. Iranpanah's Book "koshtigir"
  • Article in "Pajouhesh" Magazine
  • Pahlavani Practice in Public Park
  • Pahlavans on Championship Platform
  • Persian Gymnasium
  • Book: Biography of Shaban Jafari by Ms. Homa Sarshar

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