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Sinj and Damam

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Sinj and Damam in Bushehr.

Sinj and Damām (Persian: سِنج و دَمام) is a traditional mourning ritual practiced in southern parts of Iran, especially Bushehr. In this ritual, people hold a ceremony with playing Damam, Sinj, and horns. According to historical accounts, Sinj and Damam entered Bushehr from India or Tanzania (or Zanzibar).

History

It seems that Damam was originally “Dambam” (literally: at the edge of the roof) which was used in the past as a wake-up call. It is said that some people of Zanzibar or India brought Damam to Bushehr and used them in different wedding and mourning ceremonies until it became part of the mourning rituals. Some people have accounted for the association of Sinj or Damam with the religious rituals of people in Bushehr in terms of their belief that metal objects make the devil and the Jinn escape, and thus, when Damam, which is a sacred instrument, is played, the Sinj is also played to scare the devils away.

Shape

Sinj (or cymbal) consists of two brass plates with the diameter of 15 to 20 cm and the thickness of about 5 millimeters. Each of them has a wooden handle in its middle. The horn is made of a huge twisted branch.

Damam is a cylinderucal instrument with a length of 45 or 55 cm and a diameter of 35 to 40 cm, and its both sides are covered with leather. Its body consists of woods or metal sheets and the leather is either from the goatskin or the deerskin. The Damam-player beats one side of the Damam with his hand and the other side with a wooden stick, thus producing his melody.

The Ritual

In every ritual of Damam and Sinj, there are about seven Damams and eight Sinjes with a person in the middle to handle them.

In the procession of Damam-players there is a forerunner known as “Ishkunzan”; a soloist whose uniform beats are different from those of other Damams. Other Damam-players stand in two rows, and in front of each is a person known as “Ghimbir” who is imitated by other Damam-players.

Sinj-players are also divided into two groups: four Sinj-players stand on top of the Damams and four others stand beside the lower Damams.

Another part of the ritual is the Horn, which is not essential. It functions as a coordinator between Damam-players and announces the beginning and the end of Damam-playing.

Occasions

Sinj and Damam are played in religious rituals, in addition to wedding and mourning ceremonies. Here are the religious rituals at which Damam and Sinj are played:

  • Announcing the dawn of the month of Ramadan
  • Mourning rituals of Muharram: Damam and Sinj are played since the Muharram 7th until the eve of Ashura

References