Sistani Dance (Persian: رقص سیستانی, [Raqs-e Sistani]), which is more than a thousand years old, enjoys the theatrical aspect as well as its specific roles that show the identity of the locals. It performs along with some instruments such as Santur, Ghaychak, Chogir, and Dohol. Due to the location of Sistan and Baluchestan province (on the borderland) and its specific geographical conditions, the residents have always guarded the borders of Iran throughout history. Sistani dance, in addition to gathering people in various ceremonies, also had a military function. It represents role-playing for the people on the battlefield and is considered a symbol of the historical background of Sistan.
Different types of Sistani Dance
Sistani dance is divided into two categories; Chapi dance (feminine dance) and sword or wood dance (masculine dance). Chapi dance is the specific form which is hitting the foot on the ground continually by following the beats of Dayereh (instrument). In the past, this type of dance was also performed as a group of men and women. Moreover, masculine dance in Sistan is divided into two categories, single wood, and double wood. The double wood dance is done by two people with two wood. In a single wood dance, a circular group of dancers with only one wood on their hand all dance together, and the audience cheers the dancers. The sword dance is one of the most original Sistani dances in the southeast of Iran, and the Sistan wood dance is one of the famous and popular dances of the locals. These days, the folk dance of wood and sword is held in most ceremonies on different occasions such as weddings, feasts, etc.
Philosophy of Sistani Dance
There are several hidden secrets and meanings in each sequence of the sword dance. Sword dance begins with physically active meditation and Sufi whirling, which can be found in the philosophy of Sama (a Sufi ceremony). The hands facing the sky and the regular rotations each have their meanings. The ritual dance of the sword in Sistan has a defensive aspect and tells the story of the battle of two heroes against each other. When one of them falls to the ground, the opponent invites him to stand up; When one fails, Sorna (instrument) and music are played for the winner. Rhythmic movements, the circle of dancers, and the circular rotation act as an invitation and display unity in society.
All the elements of Choob Bazi (Sistani dance) such as costumes, color, sword, and wood, are formed based on the culture of Sistan; Thus, there is a direct relationship between the scarf and the way it completely covers the head and nose. This cover is intended to protect and prevent dust from entering the mouth and nose. The looseness of the clothes, the white color, and the texture are in proportion with the desert climate and inspire people's happiness. The murals on Mount Khajeh in Sistan and Baluchestan province, which belong to the Parthian (247 BC-224 AD) and Sassanid (224-651) eras, show the traditions of music, ceremony, sword dance, and fight in this part of Iran at that time.