Hajji Firuz, (Persian: حاجی فیروز)
As I was at the library I came across an international Iranian newspaper. Now it may be quite obvious by the content I post on my blog that international politics and cultures interest me a great deal, so I had to stop and read it (and quite frankly, how many times does one come across an Iranian newspaper in English?). As I backtracked, initially passing the paper, I noticed on the front page a picture similar to the ones above. The title clearly read, ‘Hajji Firuz, in blackface.’ Shocked by this, I opened the article up and briefly read enough of it to get a general concept of who this character is.
Troubadours, referred to as Haji Firuz, disguise themselves with makeup and wear brightly colored outfits of satin. These Haji Firuz, singing and dancing, parade as a carnival through the streets with tambourines, kettle drums, and trumpets to spread good cheer and the news of the coming new year. Haji Firooz is the black faced character who is the traditional herald of the Nowrooz season and begins to wander the streets and alleyways in his red costume weeks before the end of the year. The sound of his songs and the sight of his dance is often analogous to hearing Christmas music in a shopping mall, telling all that Nowrooz is in the air. Although the blackness of his skin has been the source of some racial controversy in Iranian intellectual circles, Haji’s intentions and spirit have always been well received and loved by the people.