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Mourner, suspected to represent Isis mourning Osiris. 18th dynasty, 1550 - 1295 BC. Terra cotta
Professional mourning or paid mourning is a mostly historical occupation practiced in Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures and many other parts of the world. Professional mourners, also called moirologists, are compensated to lament or deliver a eulogy. Mentioned in the Bible, the occupation is widely invoked in literature, from the Ugaritic epics of early centuries BC to modern poetry. Held in high esteem in some cultures and times, the practice was vilified in others. Female professional mourners also, called as Rudaali, were common in many parts of India, especially in the Western Indian state of Rajasthan. These women were usually from the lower castes, and would be hired by the upper castes on the death of a family member.
In Honoré de Balzac's landmark 1835 novel Le Père Goriot, the title character's funeral is attended by two professional mourners rather than his daughters. The 1993 Indian film Rudaali, directed by Kalpana Lajmi and set in Rajasthan, is about the life of a professional mourner, or Rudaali.
The short documentary Tabaki (2001) directed by Bahman Kiarostami, follows the lives of 'mourners for hire'.
Footnote 1 in Sabar, Y. (1976). "Lel-Huza: Story and History in a Cycle of Lamentations for the Ninth of Ab in the Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Zakho, Iraqi Kurdistan." Journal of Semitic Studies (21) 138-162.