[UNESCO description] Pahlevani is an Iranian martial art that combines elements of Islam, Ghonsticism and ancient Persian beliefs. It describes a ritual collection of gymnastic and callisthenic movements performed by ten to twenty men, each wielding instruments symbolizing ancient weapons. The ritual takes place in a Zoorkhane, a sacred domed structure with an octagonal sunken arena and audience seats. The Morshed (master) who leads the Pahlevani ritual performs epic and Gnostic poems and beats out time on a zarb goblet drum. The poems he recites transmit ethical and social teachings and constitute part of Zoorkhanei literature. Participants in the Pahlevani ritual may be drawn from any social strata or religious background, and each group has strong ties to its local community, working to assist those in need.
There is no universal consensus on the early history of Pahlevani and Zookhanei rituals. However, it dates back to ancient Iran about 3,000 years ago.
Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals are practiced in Azerbaijan,