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25 December 2021

Pir Shalyar – A Remarkable Festival in the Glorious Village of Howraman Takht

Hair flies wildly as dervishes perform trance-like ‘dances’ on the rooftops of a spectacular Kurdish stepped village. Welcome to Howraman Takht’s Pir Shalyar Festival in far western Iran.

Pir Shalyar – A Remarkable Festival in the Glorious Village of Howraman Takht

Howraman’s most celebrated festival replays the legendary wedding of a hermit-healer. Image: IRNA  

The oversized village of Howraman Takht in Western Iran is an architectural work of art with its earthen-coloured houses stacked almost organically up the side of a craggy hillside. They would be perfectly camouflaged against the dusty mountains were it not for arrays of blue- and green-shuttered windows staring out across the valley like hundreds of eyes. The slope is so steep that the roof of one house often forms the front yard for the house above. In this, it resembles the famous Gilani village of Masuleh in lush northwestern Iran, but unlike the latter, there is virtually no tourism here.   

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Description automatically generated with medium confidence The stacked houses of Howraman Takht have a collective stylistic integrity. Image: Aras Hatam/Shutterstock 

Yet the whole of the Howraman area is sprinkled with similarly memorable settlements - Takht simply means ‘head’ or main village. Culturally it’s hard to find anywhere in the world that’s more authentically Kurdish.