Curiosities - Self-Flagellation Device, Iraq

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Self-flagellation device
Wood, iron
11.5" (29.2 cm) long handle, with iron chainlinks 13" (33 cm) long
Mid-20th century
Ashura is a festival that commemorates the Martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was slaughtered with thousands of others at the battle of Karbala in A.D. 680. It's the most important Shiite event celebrated in Iraq, and is not observed by Sunnis. The performance of matam - or self-flagellation - is said to increase the feelings of sadness and grief over his death.


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