Shirin and Farhad

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Persian
Age: 22
Occupation: University Student
Residence: San Diego
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/11/2018
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Farsi

The following informant is a 22-year-old Persian-American women from Southern California. In this account she is describing a tale her parents and family used to tell her when she was little. This is a transcription of our conversation, she is identified as S and I am identified as K:

S: So, my name, um because it means sweet, there used to be this fairy tale in Iran, that basically every old person, in their entire life, and basically everyone has been told this story.

So basically, there was this princess and her name was Shirin, and there was a King and his name was Farhad. So basically, Shirin lived in this Castle… and… um… and she was just like this princess of like Persia. And he like… well… it’s kind of like a Rapunzel type of situation and basically Farhad came and like saved her and took her outside the castle and like gave her a new life. He was basically… he was just like her prince, but like she was the main focal point of the story as opposed to that guy. But like yeah, the story is not like too-in depth, it’s pretty short. It’s basically… just like… there is a prince and a princess and it’s like bada bing bada boom

S: But umm… yeah, my parents told me that, and basically most people who name their kids Shirin, or Shireen, will tell their children that story. It’s kind of like Rapunzel, because she is just like stuck in the castle and he like comes and saves her, but like the Persian version, haha.

K: Who is told this story?

S: Well like any Persian over the age of 45 knows it cause it’s like a children’s tale, but they always tell it to kids named Shirin

K: Do you like the story?

S: Well, yeah, because there was not a story, like growing up in America, the princesses were not named Shirin, so when I heard about a princess with my name and she was rescued by a knight in shining armor, I was like very there for it… because like yes… it was not Cinderella, aurora, or whatever the fuck and now there was finally a Shirin

K: What does it mean to you?

S: Um, I think when I was like a child, I thought that your name … actually no when I was a child I did not give a shit about that, I just thought it was so cool that I had a princess and other people didn’t. But as an adult it makes me feel better, that my name has meaning and history behind it.

Context:

The informant told this retelling while we were at a café by her school. The conversation was recorded and transcribed.

Thoughts:

First of all I love her retelling of the story, I thought it was great. But I also think that her not knowing the specifics of the story and only knowing the main ideas is okay because her take away from being told this story was that her name means something. It makes me think of the Oral-Formulaic Theory, how if she were to tell her child the story, she will probably keep the plot the same because that is what she knows, but the formulaic speech (little details) she could change up. In addition, which is what I find most interesting, is that she explained that this is a popular fairy tale, that is about a Persian princess, tell young Persian children. After doing some research, this story is actually based on a poem, which was based on a real event, of an Armenian princess named Shirin falling in love with the Kind of Persia. So, in the original story, the princess was not Persian, but to the informant its more about the name of the princess than her origins.

Here are two links to look at the original poetic version and historical version that inspired this tale. (These are not links to the absolute original version, as I don’t understand Farsi, I had difficulty procuring it):

https://www.peopleofar.com/2015/11/08/before-romeo-and-juliet-there-was-khosrow-and-shirin/

http://nazykaviani.blogspot.com/2007/08/story-of-khosrow-and-shirin-i.html