Haji Firuz (Persian: حاجی فیروز / هاجی فیروز – Hāji Firuz) or Khwaja Piruz (Persian: خواجه پیروز – Xwāje Piruz), also spelled Hajji Firuz, is a fictional character in Iranian folklore who appears in the streets by the beginning of Nowruz. His face is covered in soot, and he is clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat. He dances through the streets while singing and playing a tambourine, and is the companion of Amu Nowruz ("Uncle Nowruz").
The actual origin and meaning of the term Haji Firuz is obscure. However, it is comprehensibly a term used after the Arab conquest of Iran, as many Iranian words and titles were transformed by the Arabic language.
Haji, as written with the eighth letter of Perso-Arabic alphabet (حاجى), is identified as a form of addressing, and unrelated to the meaning of the word Hajji; much like using sir to address a person in English, without the person being a knight. And as written with the second last letter of Perso-Arabic alphabet (هاجی), it derives from the word heja (هجاء), meaning "satire." Firuz is the Arabized version of the Persian word piruz, meaning "victor."
Khwaje Piruz is the other version of the term, which consists of the word khwaje, identified as an Iranian title meaning "master," and the non-Arabized piruz.
In the traditional songs, he introduces himself as a serf trying to cheer people as his lords. As a blackfaced serf, it is a controversial character, reviewed as a racist symbolism. Half of is face is sometimes painted white, to prevent the criticism.
In some references, it is believed that Haji Firuz is based on a tradition called Mir Nowruzi. Mir Nowruz was a comical figure chosen to rule the municipality for "the last five days of the year" (Panje). The temporary "five-day king" (Šāh e Panj Ruze) would often parade the city with a group of singers and dancers for the Nowruz Celebrations.
Mehrdad Bahar opined that the figure of the Haji Firuz is derived from ceremonies and legends connected to the epic of Prince Siavash, which are in turn derived from those associated with the Mesopotamian deities of agriculture and flocks, Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi). Later, he claimed that the blackened face of Haji Firuz symbolizes his returning from the world of the dead, his red clothing is the sign of the blood of Siavash and the coming to life of the sacrificed deity, while his joviality is the jubilation of rebirth, typical of those who bring rejuvenation and blessing along with themselves. He speculates that the name Siyāwaxš might mean "black man" or "dark-faced man" and suggests that the black part of the name may be a reference either to the blackening of the faces of the participants in the afore-mentioned Mesopotamian ceremonies, or to the black masks that they wore for the festivities.
The songs are usually sung with a traditional "funny accent" or a mimicking of a speech impediment.
Hāji Firouz E!
Hāji firouz e, sāl-i ye ruz e (It’s Haji Firuz, it’s only one day a year)
Hame midunan, man am midunam (Everyone knows, I know as well)
Eyd e Nowruz e, sāl-i ye ruz e (It's Nowruz, it’s only one day a year)
Arbāb e Xod am
Arbāb e xod am, "sāmmule baleykom" (Greetings, my own lord)
Arbāb e xod am, sar et-o bālā kon (Raise your head, my own lord)
Arbāb e xod am, lotf-i be mā kon (Do me a favor, my own lord)
Arbāb e xod am, be man nigā kon (Look at me, my own lord)
Arbāb e xod am, boz-boz e qandi (My own lord, the billy goat)
Arbāb e xod am, čerā nemi-xandi? (Why don’t you smile, my own lord?)
Beškan beškan e, beškan! (It's a snap-snap, snap!)
Man nemi-škanam, beškan! (I won't snap, snap!)
Injā beškanam, yār gele dāre (If I snap here, this one will complain)
Unjā beškanam, yār gele dāre (If I snap there, that one will complain)
In siāh e bičāre če qad howsele dāre! (How patient this poor blackened is!)
- John Richardsohn:Wilkens, Charles, ed. (1810). . London: F. & C. Rivingson, p. 626 and p. 628
- Faces around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face By Margo DeMello – Black Face, Page 28
- According to research by Dr. Mahmoud Roh-ol-Amini based on the writings of Allamah Mohammad Ghazvini on "Mir-Norouzi" in the early twentieth century.
- Omidsalar, Mahmoud. "ḤĀJI FIRUZ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
- Richardson, John.Wilkens, Charles, ed. (1810). . London: F. & C. Rivingson. [OCLC: 5631372]
- Ghanoonparvar, Mohammad.R.: In a Persian Mirror: Images of the West and Westerners in Iranian Fiction, Uni Press Texas, U.S.A. 1993 ISBN 978-0-292-72761-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Haji Firuz.|
- Ḥāji Firuz article by Encyclopadia Iranica
- The Persian Nowruz By Iraj Bashiri
- Haji Firuz: The Traditional Herald of Norouz