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Exotic Tribes
Be a responsible traveller. Show tribal people respect and meet them on their premises. Visiting people with a different lifestyle and culture could sometimes be a very rewarding adventure, but be aware of that many tribal communities are extremely vulnerable to outside influences. All tribal people need to be protected from tourists in order to preserve their unique lifestyle and cultures. Travellers should understand that some tribes would like to live undisturbed, and that visit would be an intrusion.

Joining the Qashqai and Lor nomads in the world`s most brutal dance - Persia - Iran - the fearsome Choopy dance! See the video clip!

It didn't took long time before the Qashqai women started to dance, but when the men started their own wild dance, I was challenged to join them in something which turned to be a real fighting game, the Choopy dance. It must be the world`s most brutal dance!

I took my way high up in the Iranian beautiful mountain hillside. There I found some great people from Iran's many nomadic groups. The nomads welcomed me with shooting from weapons and singing from the women: killillillilliiiiiiiiiii! Sometimes I just jumped right in a wedding, and was invited to be their special guest.

Photo. Men from the Lor (Lurs) tribe in full friendly fighting - they are taking the Choopy-dance real serious!

See the video clip from the brutal Choopy-dance (click on this link): Qashqai Choopy dance .

My excellent guide Ali had always good instincts. In one or another way he always found the most exotic groups of nomads, whom we encountered. With his great communication skills it didn't take long time before we were invited to the nomad's camps. I also spoke some few words of Farsi to them that helped to "break the ice" quickly. My pronouncing was not especially good in the beginning on the tour, but it improved. Anyway the people become delighted when I tried.

It was fantastic to visit Bakhtyari, Lor (Lurs) and Qashqai nomads and observe their daily life and unique cultures. With an altitude between 2500 and 4000 metres, maybe more, I could not avoid to be affected by the thin air. It was amazing to see how the nomad tribes manage to survive in such dry and harsh nature conditions. They are a true living miracle on the earth.


Contact Pars Tourist Agency (P.T.A) for more information and booking your adventure tour in Iran:

Pars Tourist Agency (P.T.A)
Zand Street 71358
Next to Iran Cinema, Shiraz, Iran
Phone Office: 0098-711-2223163 and 0098-711-2240645. Mobile Phone (around the clock) 0098-9171118514.
Website: www.key2persia.com
E-mail: info@key2persia.com


Preparations for the dancing fighting games were done in a big tent. Here the men drank tea and smoked water pipes. The atmosphere was quite relaxed and friendly in the beginning. The men talked and laughed continuously. I and the tribesmen were served tea, sometimes with food as chicken, fruit, vegetables and other special things.

One thing I was served didn't taste good at all. It was something I first thought was a beautiful white stone. It was almost stone hard, but later I was explained that it was a special made butter.

Each time had drunken up my tea my cup was filled up again. The service was excellent, but I missed the teaspoon to stir the sugar in the tea, but the tribesmen didn't need it. They were quite good to suck both white and yellow sugar trough their teeth. They didn't eat with knives either as most people in Iran can do without.


The Choopy-dance is for real men

The Choopy-dance makes the men ready for real fighting. This must be the most brutal dance in the world. It goes like this: two men fight in a ring. They make different quick moves to confuse the defender or bring him out of balance. Their equipment symbolise their traditional weapons. The stick symbolise the sword, and the pole symbolise the spear or the shield.


Photo. The brutal Choopy dance is not for ballet dancers. Don`t forget to take care of you knees!

These men were really though!


The fighters move their body in total harmony with the intensive rhythm in their traditional music. There are mainly two benefits from the dance:

1.      To enjoy themselves.

2.      Make them fitness (kind of sport for body fitness).


The tribesmen like to challenge good friends. The intention is to hit the defender below the knee with a stick (not with the pole as far I understood, but if it goes hard sometimes it can probably happens). Sometimes the participants get seriously injured, example they break bones in their legs, or even worse: their knee gets smashed. For they who participate in this game, should expect to get both red and blue brushes on their legs and sometimes higher up if it gets really rough.


Photo. Choopy-dance in the Lor (Lurs) tribe turned hard. I could sometimes hear the sound BANG when they smashed someone by the stick.  

Sometimes the participants get seriously injured, example they break bones in their legs, or even worse: their knee gets smashed. For they who participate in this game, should expect to get both red and blue brushes on their legs and sometimes higher up if it gets really rough.


This could result in hard payback from others in the crowd. Sometimes others get involved and start to fight with their bare fists or even more. When it turns pretty wild, and some get hurt, others may be angry and attach the guilty person. Some people don't obey the basis rules at all. One of the basis rules are: you should never hit a person who is not ready to start the game. 


Photo. Lor tribesmen eagerly watching the fight.


People around encourage one of the dancers (fighters) to make a brave attack.


The crowd get usually very excited when they are watching. They support their favourite as best they can. Usually the fighters are in the same family group, and they don't want to hurt each others.


Photo. The man in the white clothes wears a tradition costume for camuflage. It`s for protection against the sun and enemies whom they are fighting in the mountains.

Dance and fight goes hand in hand. The men like to prove themselves and I was sure they wanted to gain favour with women.

The wild dance reflects the courage of warriors who fight enemies by traditional weapons.


In the dance, or shall I say the fighting game, the men aspire to become heroes. These who win will be showed with honour, sometimes with lifelong prestige. Showing courage in the fight means that the men stand ready to defend the tribe. The large gathering made the atmosphere very tense. The men stood on one side, and the women stood on the other side.


Photo. Me dressed up in a Lor traditional custome.

It was a great honour for me to wear it.

The Lor tribe showed their best hospitality, and the people there were really nice.


My fight in the Choopy-dance

I had the pleasure to participate in Choopy-dances both in the Lor (Lurs) and Qashqai nomads camps. Just like the tribesmen I was eager in the fight. I was real concentrated. My adreline freaked and the blood rushed in my veins. This was the time to show that I was a real Norwegian Viking.


When I fought against a man from Quasqai, I attacked the man ahead me wild look. Based on earlier experience I had now little more self-confidence. The man just stood there with a big smile in his face. I think he was just waiting for me. I roared wildly to frighten him. Desperately I tried to provoke a movement to bring him out of balance, but nothing affected my defender. I guess he was very experienced. During the fight I heard the big roars from the crowded and I assumed that they were supporting me.


After a while we exchanged weapons and continued with the same high intensity in the fight. For a while I forgot the music, and made my own moved independently of the rhythm in the music. I was determined to hit him with the stick, but at the same time I was worried to hurt him. In the end there where no injuries, no winners and no losers, or shall I say that we both won? Anyway we both had a good time.


Photo. The only thing that reminds about the lions in Iran is the gravestones on the cemeteries.


The lions were extinguished for over 80 years ago. This cemetery on the photo above is located high up in the Zagros Mountains.


Their traditional music and dances make the nomadic people happy, especially the friendly dancing fight CHOOPY - even though this fighting dance is probably the most brutal dance in the world. Sometis it hit friends. That's what friends are for. It's in the nomads soul, and give them strength and hope for a better future. I dream my dreams with them!


Stein Morten Lund, 3 August 2004


Additional information
See the video clip from the brutal Choopy dance (click on this link): Qashqai Choopy dance .


Especially thanks to my excellent guide Ali Hussein Manoochehri (from Pars Tourist Agency (P.T.A), Shiraz, Iran - (www.key2persia.com) who contributed with information and translation. He also filmed me when I participated in the fighting game.


Facts about Iran:

Formal country name: Islamic Republic of Iran.

Area: 1.64 million sq km.

Population: 68.27 million.

People: Persian (Farsis) (65%), Azari (25%), Arab (4%), Lors (2%), Turkmen (2%), Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish.

Language: Persian, Kurdish.

Religion: Shi'ite Muslim (89%), Sunni Muslim (10%), Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Baha'i (1%).

Government: Islamic republic.

Presentation of our partner in Iran (sponsored text and link):

Pars Tourist Agency (P.T.A.), Iran

It`s a private Persian incoming agency. It's located in Shiraz under the license number 1/47026 issued by Iran Travel & Tourism Organization (ITTO) (www.farstourism.org). They organise a wide variety of tours for individuals as well as groups such as inbound historical, cultural, anthropology, mountaineering, trekking, adventure and natural excursion tours.

Speciality - exploring nomad tribes:
For real adventurers P.T.A. arranges expeditions in to rural areas to search for nomad tribes in Iran's high mountains. Some of the tribes are Bakhtiari, Lor, Qashqai. They live in a beautiful landscape that will take your breath away. You will be able to explore the tribe's daily life and unique culture in a natural way. Sometimes you will experience a wedding, birth, fighting game, dancing, festival or other things. Take your time and see what happens. Then it will be an experience of a lifetime.

Contact info:
Phone: 0098-711-2223163 and 0098-711-2240645. Mobile Phone (around the clock) 0098-9171118514.
Fax: 0098-711-2229693
Letters: Pars Tourist Agency (P.T.A), Zand Street 71358, Next to Iran Cinema, Shiraz, Iran.
Website: www.key2persia.com
E-mail: info@key2persia.com


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