Publication Date

Spring 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Erika Brady (Director), Ann K. Ferrell, and Kate Parker Horigan

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis examines current practices of music and prayers in the context of Jam ritual among the Ahl-e Haqq, a vernacular religion group in Iranian Kurdistan. I examine the construction and sacralization of the sacred instrument of the Ahl-e Haqq, tanbūr. I also explore the sacred prayer, kalām, and the association of prayer and music. Through the ethnographic method, participant observations, and interviewing religious figures and master musicians during the fieldwork in Sahneh, Iran, I investigate the relation of the Ahl-e Haqq prayers and music, and their effect on healing during their sacred ritual performance. Drawing primarily on scholarship from David Hufford and Bonnie Blair O’Connor, I theorize to show the distinction between healing and cure. Also using Leonard Primiano’s concept of vernacular religion, my aim is to show how the Ahl-e Haqq define their vernacular health belief system. This thesis examines the effect of music and prayers on healing in particular contexts and how it influences the daily wellbeing.


Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Social and Cultural Anthropology