Pigeon keeping or pigeon breeding, also referred to as a kind of love-affair, is one of the Iranians’ traditional games. This game is exclusive to men and it is still common in most of the cities of Iran. Basically, pigeon keeping is played in two different forms in Iran: the first one is the pigeon racing which is also called “pledge”, and the second one refers to the wager between pigeon holders.
The pledger, with the help of his professional and trusted friends, prepares the water and seed for the pigeons before they fly. The pigeons, divided in male and female groups, are brought out to a fenced area. They are fed and their feet are washed, and then they are led into the closet again.
This continues until the sunrise.
The nights before the “pledge” are full of commotion and anxiety. Strangers are not allowed in. the bird’s rest before the flight is one of the most important parts of the race which should not be disturbed by the presence of somebody or any possible noise.
Normally, the pledger or one of his trusted friends watches the birds in order to prevent any disturbance.
Now the guests invited by the pledger arrive in. Their accommodation is prepared beforehand. These guests are mostly consisted of the veterans of this activity or the pledger’s very close friends.
There are also people who are not invited and they come to the place before the morning of the game. There is no specific place for this people and they often form small groups around the game location and chat until its start.
At sunrise, the pledger releases the pigeons and makes them fly. Here, the main task of the judges begins. In other words, the judges have to record the flight time of any pigeon, from the first one to the last, and finally obtain the total time of their flight. The total flight time is divided into the number of the pigeons of the pledger and the result will be the average flight time of that game. If it is more than the average flight time of the opponents, the pledger will be considered the winner.
This is a photography project by:
Shervin Shirkoubi - Javad Kahdem - Mahmoud Arafati and Mamad Tajik