Iranian entertainment stores. Bongāh is the Persian word for corporation or foundation, but here means “shop” or “store” or (the French word) “magasin”, while shadmani means “happiness”. In the late period of Reza Shah Pahlavi (r.1925-1941) at the time of rising Western-style theatre, groups of players, dancers, puppeteers, magicians, and musicians gathered together under one production group. Every group included traditional comics (takht-e hozi, comparable to commedia dell’arte) and marionettists (kheimeh shab bazi) playing Shah Salim bazi (Shah Salim play). Performers would be hired for celebrations and feasts.

Before the establishment of the “happiness magasins”, traditional performers would live and work in the poorest and southernmost region of the city of Tehran (Sare Ghabre Agha) and also had places in downtown cafes. Later, they appropriated a specific part of Sirius Street in Tehran. Sirius Street was known for these traditional, formerly itinerant, showmen and companies were active until the fall of the second Pahlavi shah in l979.

(See Iran.)


  • Azimpour, Poupak. Iranian Ritual and Traditional Puppets and Puppet Shows Dictionary. Tehran, Iran: Namayesh Publications, 2010.