In Iran, folksongs are part of folklore and offer an intimate portrait of a vanishing era. They are also 'the voice' of ordinary people, providing a medium to express emotions, opinions and concerns. This book is based on folksongs collected over a 50-year period among the Boir Ahmad tribal people in the Zagros Mountains of West Iran. Erika Friedl has recorded, transcribed and translated more than 600 lyrics from a Lur community, and her analysis of the folksongs provides an intimate portrait of local people's attitudes, attachments, fears and desires. From songs of love, sex and mourning, to lyrics discussing beauty, infatuation and the community's violent tribal history, Friedl's solid understanding of the cultural background, lifestyle and worldview of these people lets her add ethnographic details that illuminate the deep meaning of the texts. In this way, Friedl goes far beyond a translation of words: she sheds light on a culture where beliefs, critical evaluation of circumstances and philosophical tenets are shown to be integral to each song's message.
Based on fieldwork that began in 1965, Erika Friedl's research on the folklore in Boir Ahmad represents the best-documented modern folklore compendium on an Iranian tribe. This new book will be important for future generations of scholars, including ethnographers, Iranists, linguists, ethnomusicologists and those researching Persian literature and cultures of the Middle East.