This article discuses the variety of the roles a dervish (Persian: 'poor', 'ascetic', 'recluse') plays in the Persian folk culture. The Persian folk culture and the imaginary range related to dervish is not considered as a clearly-bordered entity. The author stresses that dervish image and perception should be perceived in a broader, not only Persian, context, since dervish is a part of a more wide-spread phenomenon of 'mad wisdom' or 'holy madness', and has its pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian, counterparts. In the Persian folk tales, the dervish roles seem to create a consistent image. He is a strange arrival, a guide to the other world and a mighty magician. He is strongly connected to the sphere of the sacred. Folk imagination linked him with terrible creatures belonging to the other world. It also looks that the word dervish is used to define a variety of other fairy-tale characters, whose behavior cannot be easily accepted by the common sense. It also can be argued that the dervish image is closely related with everything which has to do with the initiation complex. In Iran and Afghanistan the dervish has become a central character of motifs connected with rites of initiation of the pre-Islamic times. It seems that such a memory has been preserved in fairy tales from those regions.
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