"Ziyara" and "Ziyarat-gah" in the 19th century Iran

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Institutional Affiliation : 
Hokkaido University
Academic Bio: 
Tomoko MORIKAWA holds a BA (1994), an MA (1996), and a PhD (2005) from Kyoto University. She has studied also at Tehran University (1997-2000) on a scholarship awarded by the Japanese Ministry of Education, and at Bamberg University (2002) on a scholarship awarded by the DAAD. Dr. Morikawa started her academic career as a Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and is currently an Associate Professor of the Graduate School of Letters (Division of History and Area Studies), at Hokkaido University, Japan. Her research interests are centered on the culture and history of Iran, especially on pilgrimage (ziyara) to the Shi'ite sacred sites, on the historiography of Iran, and on Persianate societies and their intellectual culture. She was awarded the Toho-gakkai Prize for 2009 from The Institute of Eastern Culture (Toho gakkai). Selected Publications: Shi’ite Pilgrimage to the Sacred ‘Atabat. (in Japnanese). Kyoto University Press. Kyoto, 2007, 422p. “The Mausoleum City of Mashhad-i Muqaddas under Safavid Rule” (in Japanese), Shirin (Journal of History), No. 80-2, 1997, pp.1-41. “Bibliographical Note on Safarnama Materials in Qajar Period” (in Japanese), Bulletin of the Society for Western and Southern Asiatic Studies, No. 55, 2000, pp.44-68. “The Perso-Ottoman Boundary and the Second Treaty of Erzurum in 1847” (in Japanese), Shirin (Journal of History), No. 90-1, 2007, pp.62-91. “The Bisotun Inscription and the Persians: The Place of Gods, Romance, and ‘Historicity’” (in Japanese), The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies, No. 25, 2007, pp. 1-48. “A forgotten manuscript and its calligrapher: Who was “Isma’il b. Haydar al-Husayni”?” (in Japanese), Tohogaku (Eastern Studies), No. 117, 2009, pp. 157-176. “The Emergence of ‘History of Iran’: Historiography in Qajar Iran” (in Japanese), Rekishigaku Kenkyu (Journal of Historical Studies), No. 863, 2010, pp. 12-21.

After the founding of the Safavid dynasty in the early 16th century, the Shi’ite faith began to take firm root among the populace of Iran. As is obvious from the current situation in which 90% of the population is Shi’a, Iranian history has followed a different course from those of other Islamic societies. In the course of this history, the era of the Qajar dynasty, which was established at the close of the 18th century and which ruled the nation until early in the 20th century, was a period during which the Shi’ite faith grew in strength. This is represented by both the increasing influence of Shi’ite scholars of Islamic jurisprudence and, most clearly, by the fact that the ta‘ziya, the ritual of mourning for Imam Husain, was conducted increasingly elaborately in Iran. Nevertheless, the expression of Shi’ite faith that is characterized by reverence and adoration of the Imams is also seen in the distinct act of ziyara pilgrimage to the tombs of the Imams and their offsprings. Although the 19th century was an age when great numbers of Iranians set off on pilgrimages to the tombs of the Imams, this historical reality has been overlooked. During the Qajar period, nearly 300 travel accounts (safarname) were composed in Persian by Iranians. These first-person accounts excel in recounting how the journeys were carried out, and what their authors witnessed and felt. Among them, there are several extant works titled “pilgrimage accounts (safarnme-ye ziyarati)”, which were written at the pilgrimage journey for such sacred places as Makka, Madina, ‘Atabat (in Iraq), Mashhad, Qom and other small Imamzades (in Iran). In this study, through these travel accounts, we will adjust a focus on some small Imamzades (not on major tombs of Imams) to show the general understandings of spiritual and religious appearance of the then Iranians and also do more comprehensive studies in the field of pre-modern Iranian Shi’ite history and culture.

Academic Discipline : 
History of Iran
Time Period : 
Other : 
16-20th century

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