Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Old Persian Love Story: Mohammed Reza Shajarian and Kayhan Kalhor

Farhad and Shirin

There is a place I know, high up in the mountains of Kurdistan where the crow roams freely and the snow finally meets the sun. Where you can fall wild like a mountain and run with a stone in your hand. This is where our story takes place.

There was a brave man called Farhad, who loved a Princess named Shirin, but the Princess did not love him. Farhad tried in vain to gain access to Shirin's heart, but no one would dare betray the fact that a stonecutter loved a lady of royal blood. Farhad, in despair, would go to the mountains and spend his days without food, playing sweet music in praise of Shirin on his flute.

At last people devised a plan to alert the Princess of the stone-cutter's love. When she at last noticed him the same love which lived in his bosom began to breathe in hers as well. But she dared not imagine how a mean laborer could win the hand of a princess? It was not long, however, before the Shah himself heard the rumors of this extraordinary love. He was indignant, but as he had no child other than Shirin, and Shirin was also pining away with love, he made a proposal to his daughter. Farhad, being of common birth, must accomplish a task such as no man had yet been able to do, and then, and only then, would he win the Shah’s favor.

The Shah made Shirin demand that Farhad dig a canal in the rocky land among the hills. “The canal must be six lances in width and three lances deep and forty miles long!”

Farhad immediately shouldered his spade and started off to the hills to commence the gigantic task. He worked hard and broke the stones for years. He would start his work early in the morning when it was yet dark and never ceased from his labor till, owing to darkness, no man could see one yard on each side. Shirin secretly visited him and watched her hard working lover sleeping with his taysha (spade) under his head, his body stretched on the bed of stones. She noticed, with all the pride of a lover, that he cut her figure in the rocks at each six yards and she would sigh and return without him knowing.

Farhad worked for years and cut his canal; all was ready but his task was not yet finished, for he had to dig a well in the rocky beds of the mountains. He was half-way through, and would probably have completed it, when the Shah consulted his courtiers and sought their advice. His trap had failed. Farhad had not perished in the attempt, and if all the conditions were fulfilled as they promised to soon be, he was bound to give his daughter in marriage. The Viziers suggested that an old woman should be sent to Farhad to tell him that Shirin was dead; then, perhaps, Farhad would become heart broken and give up.

It was an cruel trick, but it promised success and the Shah agreed. So an old woman went to Farhad and wept and cried till words choked her; the stone-cutter asked her the cause of her sadness.

"I weep for a deceased," she said, "and for you."
"For a deceased and for me?" asked the surprised Farhad. "What do you mean?"

"Well, my brave man," said the woman, "you have worked so well, and for such a long time, too, but you have labored in vain, for the object of your devotion is dead!"

"What!" cried Farhad, "Shirin is dead?"

Such was his grief that he cut his head with the sharp taysha (spade) and died as  his own blood streamed into his canal. When Shirin heard the news she fled in great sorrow to the mountains where her wronged lover lay. It is said that she inflicted a wound in her own head at the precise spot where Farhad had struck himself, and with the same sharp edge of the spade which was stained with her lover's blood. No water ever flowed into the canal, but the two lovers were entombed in one and the same grave.

"There's a place where now the two lovers sleep. Side by side. Shirin and her Farhad. That place is very high up in the mountains of Kurdistan. And can only be reached when the snow comes washing down in spring and stains the cheeks of maidens blood red. If you want to meet the two of them, you will have to ask the crow to take you there." (http://dooroodiran.blogspot.com.au/2004/02/ancient-persian-love-story-shirin-and.html)

Here is some sad Iranian music to accompany this sad Persian love story.

         Track Listing:
         01 Silence Of The Night (Sokout-e-Shab)
02 Desert (Kavir)
03 Instrument & Vocal (Saz va Avaz)
04 Desert Night (Shab-e-Kavir)
05 Rain (Baroun)
06 Festive Occasion (Sharang)
07 Dotar Instrumental (Hajigholagh)
08 Setar Instrumental (Torgheh)
09 Instrument & Vocal (Saz va Avaz)
10 Lover's Plight (Ey Asheghan)
Listen here.


kokolo said...

Wonderful one, I have bean listening to it a lot lately, as some other Kalhor's projects, like Ghazal with Shujaat Khan, My Eyes, My Heart from As Night Falls on the Silk Road, played it over and over again. It is easy to fall in love with classical Persian music, the problem is how to quit, the love is probably incurable.

gypsykat said...

Beautiful story!