Moluk Zarrabi


ŻARRĀBI, Moluk, the stage name of Moluk Faršforuš Kāšāni (b. Kāšān, ca 1289 Š./1910; d. Tehran, 1378 Š./1999), Persian singer and actress. Moluk was born into a musically inclined family. Her grandfather Ḥāji Jaʿfar was known as a singer at the court of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah Qājār, who bestowed upon him the honorary name of “Bolol” (Nightingale); thereafter, he was known as Ḥāji Jaʿfar Bolbol. Her father Ḥāji Ḥosayn Faršforuš also had a local reputation for his good voice. She inherited the family’s vocal talent and precociously exhibited it at the age of seven. Her early desire to sing entailed familial discontentment and social ostracism at school as it nearly did for every musically gifted girl of her time. In spite of all the difficulties, Moluk was found to be singing at social gathering in Kāšān at the age of thirteen in 1923 (Māleki, pp. 196-97).

Initial recognition and musical training. Moluk Kāšānĭ credited singer Sayyed Ḥosayn T āherzādawith discovering her potential as a singer at the home of the patron of music ʿEyn-al-Solṭān and for offering her two years of vocal lessons. She also cited one-headed drum (tombak/żarb) player Ḥāji Khan ʿEyn-al-Dawlaʾi to have tutored her for a year in rhythmic patterns of metered Persian songs (Ḥāddādi, p. 380; Māleki, p. 196). Her alto voice with its limited one-octave range was suited to singing rhythmic, through-composed songs (tasÂnif-e zarbi), in distinction to the unmetered āvāz, the prominent Persian modal chants. In time, she became so widely identified with such rhythmic songs that she was given the stage name Żarrābi, which derives from her mastery of taṣnif-e żarbiShe also received vocal lessons from the singer Abu’l-Ḥasan Eqbāl Āḏar and was considered to be one of his students (Ḥāddādi, p. 42; Sepantā, p. 212). She also attentively listened to recordings of Persian music available to her, particularly those of master singer Qamar-al-Moluk Waziri.

Musical and stage career. Żarrābi’s professional career as a singer began with two public performances in Tehran at Firuz Bahrām High School and with master setār player Aḥmad ʿEbādi at The Grand Hotel in 1924. Later, she joined tār player Esmāʿil Mehrtāš’s music-theater group Jāmeʿa-ye Bārbod that had been established in 1926. Her collaboration with the pioneering Bārbod orchestra resulted in her performances in such plays as ʿAdālat (Justice), and musicals and recordings such as Ḵosrow o Širin and Layli o Majnun. These performances ensured Żarrābi a place on the roster of prominent singers and the actresses of the first half of the 20th century Persian theater and cinema.

Soon after the establishment of Radio Tehran in 1940, Żarrābi was invited to sing with various broadcast ensembles. For these radio programs, she associated with such well-known musicians as violinist Abu’l-Ḥasan Ṣabā and Ḥosayn Yāḥaqqi, pianist Mortażā Maḥjubi, santur player Ḥabib Samāʿi, and tombak player Ḥosayn Tehrāni. Lyricist Ḥasan Sālek provided the lyrics and Ḥosayn Yāḥaqqi composed the song Kisti” (Who are you?) for Żarrābi’s inaugural radio performance. About 1957, Żarrābi was chosen as the honorary member of Radio Tehran Orchestra Number Seven or Orkestr-e viža (Special orchestra) under the direction of violinist ʿAbd-Allāh Jahān-panāh (Māleki, pp. 196-97).

Recordings and songs. In 1938, Żarrābi traveled with musicians Esmāʿil Mehrtāš, Abu’l-Ḥasan Ṣabā, Ḥosaynqoli Ṭāṭāʾi and singers Jawād Badiʿzāda, Tāj Eṣfahāni, Maleka Ḥekmat-šeʿār (laer Maleka Honar), and Adib Ḵᵛānsari to Syria and Lebanon to make recordings (Behruzi, p. 166; Mašḥun, p. 601). Żarrābi’s recordings include ʿĀšeq-am man (I am in love) for the recording company Odeon, the operetta Ḵosrow o Širin and Ḵod-setāʾi-e Širin (Širin’s song of self-praise), which she performed with Mehrtāš’s Bārbod orchestra (Sepantā, p. 178). Among her well-known recorded songs are Sargašta deldār o ḡām-e hejrān (The confused beloved and the sorrow of separation), ʿArus-e golaz bād-e ṣabā (Flower bride, floating on a gentle breeze), “Doḵtarān-e Sirus” (Cyrus’s daughters), To rafti o ʿahd-e ḵod šekasti” (You left and broke your promise), Ey šuḵ, eynegārā” (Oh, playful beloved!), and Mawsem-e gol (Flower season; Behruzi, p. 514; Māleki, pp. 197-99; Sepantā, pp. 116, 178).



Šāpur Behruzi, Čehrahā-ye musiqi-e irāni I, Tehran, 1993.

Noṣrat-Allāh Ḥāddādi, Farhang-e musiqi-e Irān, Tehran, 1997, pp. 42, 380.

Tukā Māleki, Zanān-e musiqi-e Irān, az osṭura tā emruz, Tehran, 2001.

Ḥasan Mašḥun, Tāriḵ-e musiqi-e Irān, 2 vols., Tehran, 2001.

Sāsān Sepantā, Čašmandāz-e musiqi-e Irān, Tehran, 1990, pp. 116, 178.

(Erik Naḵjavāni)

Originally Published: July 20, 2004

Last Updated: July 20, 2004

  • Birthday: 1910
  • Death: January 5, 2000
  • Birthplace: Kashan, Kashan, Iran

Singer and Actress

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