Let's not talk about sex
Zakani's ribald satire: what's wrong with the act of
November 15, 1999
Bibliotheca Persica Press in New York, under the supervision of
Ehsan Yarshater, has published Obayd Zakani: Collected Works. Edited
by the late Mohammad-Ja'far Mahjoub, this must be considered the
definitive collection of Zakani's brilliant works of satire and
Zakani, born some six hundred years ago in a village near Qazvin,
is well known among Iranians. His humorous anecdotes and maxims
are especially popular. But lesser known among the general public
is his ribald satire with explicit sexual references.
In his introduction, Mahjoub says that prurient writings by Zakani,
as well as those by such great classical poets as Rumi, Sa'di,
Sanaie, and even Iraj Mirza in more contemporary times, "are
all tactless and full of violence. Their explicitness does not
conform with the higher state of love making, coquettish manners
or loving desire."
Let's assume Zakani's writings about sex are tactless and crude.
But how many works of Persian literature can be named where the
physical expression of love is beautifully described? Has Iranian
society ever had the tolerance for it (before and after the revolution,
or before and after Islam)? Why not?
Why is references to sex and sexuality among Iranians (religious
or non-religious) a taboo, except in coutnless jokes. We have magnificent
love stories such as Laili & Majnun and Shirin & Farhad.
But why is it that almost no one has taken that extra step to show
the beauty of physical intimacy?