All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition

Omarkhali, Khanna. 2017. The Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition: From Oral to Written. Categories, Transmission, Scripturalisation and Canonisation of the Yezidi Oral Religious Texts with Samples of Oral and Written Religious Texts and with Audio and Video Samples on CD-ROM. (Studies in Oriental Religions 72). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Public and academic interest in the Yezidis, their religion and culture, has increased greatly in recent years. The study of Yezidism has also made considerable progress in recent decades. Still, several lacunae in our knowledge remain, notably concerning many concrete aspects of the textual tradition. This book is a comprehensive study of the Yezidi religious textual tradition, containing descriptions of many hitherto unknown aspects of the oral transmission of Yezidi religious knowledge. It presents a detailed account of the ‘mechanisms’ underlying various aspects of the tradition. It shows how the religious textual tradition functioned – and to a certain degree still does – in its pre-modern way, and also describes the transformations it is currently undergoing, including the issues and processes involved in the increasing trend to commit religious knowledge to writing, and indeed to create a written Canon. The work contains several hitherto unpublished texts and the most comprehensive survey to date of the extant Yezidi sacred texts. It includes four maps, a glossary of terms and a list of Yezidi lineages, and is accompanied by a CD with an extensive collection of recordings of texts (208 minutes).
See here the Table of the Contents of this volume.

The Coinage Reforms of Khusru II and the Revolt of Vistāhm

Tyler-Smith, Susan. 2017. The Coinage Reforms (600-603) of Khusru II and the Revolt of Vistāhm. (Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 54). London: Royal Numismatic Society.

One of the most intriguing literary passages relating to Sasanian coins is in al-Tabari’s, famous History. A number of questions about his ‘evil conduct’ are put to the former king of kings, Khusru II, shortly after his overthrow in 628. One concerns Khusru’s methods of tax gathering and his harsh treatment of his subjects. Khusru’s reply is important to numismatists as it contains the comment that he ordered ‘the engraving of new dies for coins, so that we might give our orders for beginning the minting of new silver [drachms] with them’. Khusru adds that he gave this order ‘at the end of year thirteen [602/3] of our reign’. The meaning of this passage and the remarkable coinage reforms of the early seventh century are explored in depth.

Khusru II’s long reign and the numerous mints operating under him ensure that his drachms are the commonest in the Sasanian series. Over 90% of the enormous ‘Shiraz’ or ‘Year 12’ hoard was probably formed of Khusru’s coins dating between 591 and 602. A parcel of 562 coins from this hoard forms the springboard for the current study. This establishes the precise sequence of the types, the date of the introduction of the enigmatic apd legend and discusses the subsequent hoarding of Khusru’s coins. The latest mint attributions are discussed.

By contrast the coinage of Khusru’s contemporary and rival, the usurper Vistahm, is scarce. Its numerous varieties, from two mints, contrast with Khusru’s centralised minting system which produced a highly standardised, tightly controlled, coinage. Vistahm’s coins are the subject of a special study with all the known dies illustrated.

Manichaica and Sogdica from Russia

The latest issue of Written Monuments of the Orient (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts; Asiatic Museum; Russian Academy of Sciences), with two articles regarding the Middle Iranian Studies has been published:
Chunakova, Olga Mikhailovna, Federico Dragoni & Enrico Morano. 2017. A forgotten Manichaean Sogdian bifolio in Sogdian script. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 3–25.
The present paper consists of the first edition, translation and commentary of a Manichaean Sogdian bifolio, whose photos are preserved in the Nachlass of Academician Carl H. Salemann at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS (St. Petersburg). The present location of the bifolio is unknown. One joining fragment has been found in the Berlin Turfan collection during the preliminary work on this edition. Two relatively long portions of Manichaean didactic treatises are extant and do not correspond to any known text. The first (I) is a Lehrtext on the duties of Manichaean monks living in a monastery. The second (II) contains the fourth and part of a fifth question, followed by answers, of a catechetical text concerning the fate of the body and of the soul after death.
Benkato, Adam. 2017. Sogdian letter fragments in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, St. Petersburg. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 26–39.
Among the Sogdian fragments from Turfan preserved in the IOM collections are a handful of epistolary texts. A new edition of these fragments is presented here as part of the author’s ongoing project on Sogdian letters from Turfan.

Āzandnāmē: A Manichaean-Sogdian Parable-Book

Benkato, Adam. Āzandnāmē. An Edition and Literary-Critical Study of the Manichaean-Sogdian Parable-Book. Beiträge Zur Iranistik 42. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2017.

The Manichaean communities in Turfan (in modern-day Xinjiang, China) produced numerous texts in many languages, including Sogdian, an eastern Middle Iranian language. The present work is an edition and literary-critical study of the longest continuous Manichaean text in Sogdian, known as the Āzandnāmē, or Parable-Book. The Parable-Book preserves parts of three parables which illuminate various aspects of Manichaean teaching by means of a narrative followed by an explanation. A new and expanded edition of the Sogdian text, with English translation and philological commentary, forms the first part of this study.

Along with sermons, hymns, and confessionals, parables were one of the major genres of non-canonical texts produced by Manichaeans in Central Asian communities, surviving in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Old Turkic, as well as Sogdian. In the second part of this study, a new approach to the study of Manichaean parables is presented, taking into account their intertextuality as part of a genre that can only exist in interdependence on all other genres of Manichaean literature. This approach allows new light to be shed on the text of the Āzandnāmē while also investigating how and for which purposes the parables were produced and used.

This work is intended for specialists of Manichaeism and/or Sogdian philology, as well as those with interests in Iranian philology or religions in Central Asia more generally.

Follow the links for the Table of Contents and the Introduction to the volume.

Adam Benkato, Ph.D. (2015) is an scholar of Middle Iranian and specificly Manichaean and Sogdian Studies. From 2015-16 he was a Researcher at the Turfan Studies Project, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and is presently a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Iranian Philology in Honour of Gherardo Gnoli

Morano, Enrico, Elio Provasi & Adriano V. Rossi (eds.). 2017. Studia Philologica Iranica. Gherardo Gnoli Memorial Volume. (Serie Orientale Roma, Nuova Serie 5). Roma: Scienze e Lettere S.r.l.
Table of Contents
  •  M. Alram:  “Ein Schatzfund des Hunnen-Königs Mihirakula”
  • G. Asatrian: “Middle Iranian Lexical Archaisms in Armenian Dialects”
  • H.R. Baghbidi: “Three Etymological Notes”
  • C.G. Cereti: “A Short Note on MHDA 38”
  • J. Cheung: “On the Origin of the Terms “Afghan” & “Pashtun” (Again)”
  • C.A. Ciancaglini: “Phonology, Etymology and Transcription Issues of Middle Persian Final Sequences ‹-lg› and ‹-lkꞌ›”
  • I. Colditz: “Another Fragment of the “Parable on the Female Hearer Xybrʾ”?”
  • M. Dandamayev: “Indian Soldiers in Achaemenid Babylonia”
  • A. de Jong: “The Women Who Witnessed Zoroaster’s Birth”
  • D. Durkin-Meisterernst: “Yima’s anādruxti-“
  • E. Filippone: “On the Meaning of Avestan nāuuiia– and Pahlavi *nāydāg
  • Ph. Gignoux: “Sur les noms de personnes et quelques particularités linguistiques d’une nouvelle collection privée de parchemins pehlevis”
  • R. Gyselen: “Formules moyen-perses et monogrammes sassanides”
  • A. Hintze: “The Advance of the Daēnā: The Vištāsp Yašt and an Obscure Word in the Hāδōxt Nask
  • H. Humbach: “Zarathushtra and the Balance”
  • J. Josephson: “The Pahlavi Psalter as a Translation”
  • J. Kellens: “Les Gâthâs dites de Zarathusthra
  • G. Lazard: “Les racines de la langue persane”
  • P. Lecoq: “Le -a final en vieux perse”
  • C. Leurini: “The Virgins and the Bride: Matt. 25:1 in the Manichaean Middle Persian Fragment M36”
  • P.B. Lurje: “More on Sogdian Versification: Translated and Original Compositions”
  • M. Macuch: “A Legal Controversy from the Sasanian Period in a Late Pahlavi Rivāyat Text”
  • M. Maggi: “Annotations on the Book of Zambasta, IV: Ronald E. Emmerick’s Notes”
  • E. Morano: “The Jackals and the Elephant: A Manichaean Sogdian Tale in Manichaean Script. With an Appendix with Corrections to Previously Edited Fragments of Tales
  • É. Pirart: “Les Soleils de l’Avesta”
  • A. Piras: “X˅arǝnah– and the Garlands. Notes about the Avestan and Manichaean Yima
  • E. Provasi: “Some Notes on Sogdian Phonology: Prothetic Aleph and Labialised Velars”
  • Ch. Reck: “Form and Emptiness: A Fragment of a Sogdian Version of the Heart Sutra?”
  • A.V. Rossi: “Ten Years of Achaemenid Philology: Old Persian &
    Achaemenid Elamite 2006-2016”
  • G. Scarcia: “Alla ricerca di un Ur-Farhâd: Hercules patiens, magnetico signor dottore, scalpellino, feldmaresciallo mecenate?”
  • R. Schmitt: “Der Flußgott Oxos in der iranischen Anthroponymie”
  • M. Schwartz: “An Achaemenid Position, and Gathic Composition:
    OPers. *grasta-(pati-), OAv. grə̄hma-, and PIE √gʰres
  • Sh. Shaked: “Zoroastrian Views on Suffering”
  • N. Sims-Williams: “The Name of the Kushan Goddess Ομμα”
  • P.O. Skjærvø: “Khotanese Land Purchase Deeds”
  • D. Weber: “Bemerkungen zu einigen Personennamen in den neuen Dokumenten aus Tabaristan”
  • G. Windfuhr: “The Enigmatic kurušag Ewe that Nursed Infant Zarathushtra, and the Precession of the Equinoxes”
  • E. Yarshater: “Tāti Dialects”
  • Y. Yoshida: “A Manichaean Middle Persian Fragment Preserved in the Kyōushooku Library, Osaka, Japan”
  • P. Zieme: “Ein altuigurisches Fragment zur manichäischen Ethik”

Greek and Roman Authors’ Views of the Arsacid Empire

Wiesehöfer, Josef & Sabine Müller (eds.). 2017. Parthika. Greek and Roman authors’ views of the Arsacid Empire (Classica et Orientalia 15). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Established in the third century BC, the multi-cultural and multi-lingual Arsacid Empire became Rome’s major opponent in the East from the first century BC to its end in the third century AD. According to a Roman idea, the orbis was evenly divided between the Parthians and the Romans. However, in the Arsacid Empire oral tradition prevailed and, for a long time, there was no Arsacid historiography concerning perception, reception and interpretation. Therefore, Greco-Roman views and images of the Parthians, Arsacids and their Empire predominated.
Focusing on literary depictions in ancient Greek and Roman literature and examining stereotypes, this volume brings together twelve papers on Greco-Roman perceptions and images of the Arsacid Empire. Part I consists of eight papers primarily concerned with re-assessments of Apollodorus of Artemita and Isidorus of Charax regarding their value as source of information on the Arsacid Empire. Part II contains four papers dealing with the images of the Arsacid Empire in the works of Josephus, Trogus-Justin, Tacitus and Arrian, viewed against their respective socio-political and cultural background.

Images of Mithra

Elsner, Jas. 2017. Images of Mithra (Visual Conversations In Art And Archaeology 1). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

With a history of use extending back to Vedic texts of the second millennium BC, derivations of the name Mithra appear in the Roman Empire, across Sasanian Persia, and in the Kushan Empire of southern Afghanistan and northern India during the first millennium AD. Even today, this name has a place in Yazidi and Zoroastrian religion. But what connection have Mihr in Persia, Miiro in Kushan Bactria, and Mithras in the Roman Empire to one another?

Continue reading Images of Mithra

Myths on the Origin of Language or on the Plurality of Languages

Thinking in Many Tongues Reading Seminar

Myths on the Origin of Language or on the Plurality of Languages

08.02-09.02.2017, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Tower of Babel, 1563 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

Programm:

Session 1: The Tower of Babel

  • Hindy Najman: “The origin of language and the Tower of Babel”
  • Florentina Geller: “The Tower of Babel from parabiblical sources”

 Session 2: Ancient Greece and Rome

  • Filippomaria Pontani: “Greek and Roman materials”
  • Comments by Glenn Most.

Session 3: Iran and India

  • Shervin Farridnejad: “The Language of the Gods: Some Reflections on the Origin of the Language in Zoroastrianism”
  • Roy Tzohar: “Language originated in dreams: Why Indian Buddhists do not have (almost) any myths about the creation of Languages”
  • Comments by Sonja Brentjes

Session 4: China and Inner Asia

  •  Wolfgang Behr: “Some Ideas on the Origin of Language in Late Imperial China,” with a few words on early China”
  •  Mårten Söderblom Saarela: “Accounts of the invention of scripts in Inner Asia”
  • Comments by Dagmar Schäfer

About the working group:

This working group brings together around a dozen historians and philologists with diverse kinds of linguistic expertise to discuss the relation between plurilingualism and the creation and reception of monolingual and plurilingual texts in various Eurasian societies. Through joint readings and translation the group explores how the text is affected by its origin in a plurilingual society and, conversely, the effect plurilingualism has on reading practices and on a “polyglot’s” understanding of the text (its concepts and ideals). In the past – as much as in the present – the majority of people in the world, and most probably most elite communities, were enmeshed in plurilingual practices. Elites from India to the Central Asia plains, Bengali Zamindars, Parsi businessmen, and scholarly travellers and the politically privileged inhabitants around the Mediterranean or the East Asian seas used two or more languages on a daily basis. Plurilingualism was widespread and a common response to the phenomenon of great linguistic diversity, not necessarily in the sense of language mastery, but rather in the form of effective negotiation of the immediate exigencies of communication. Seeking to better understand this dynamic, the seminar investigates topics such as the impact of filtering information through varied languages; the interplay between declarative and procedural knowledge; methods and means of classification; covert translations and covert multilingualism in monolingual texts; and scholarly ideals regarding reading, writing, and linguistic media, be they purportedly perfect or original languages or newly minted would-be rational or universal languages.

The working group is conducted and organized by Glenn W. Most, Dagmar Schäfer and Mårten Söderblom Saarela.

A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

Cama, Shernaz (ed.). 2016. Threads of continuity: Zoroastrian life & culture. New Delhi: Parzor Foundation.
Threads of Continuity Focuses on the philosophy and cultur of the ancient Zoroastrian faith from its origins i Central Asia, tracing a geographical and chronological continum till the present. This philosophy became a part of the lived heritage of the Zoroastrian community — both in India and Iran.
Of dpecial interest are the cross-cultural influences of the comunity in India. To highlight these, Gujarat and the Deccan will be examined in detail for the first time.
A part of this compendium also studies the contribution of the community to the making of modern India. The programme envisaged, attempts to explain the Zoroastrian philodophy of a sacred thread linking all creation.
 Table of Contents:

Continue reading A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies

Raei, Shahrokh (ed.). 2017. Islamic Alternatives; Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 16). Göttingen: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Islamic Alternatives are the proceedings of a symposium which was held in April 2014 within the framework of a research project entitled The Khāksār Order between Ahl-e Ḥaqq and Shiite Sufi Order, funded by the German Research Foundation.
The tradition and belief system of the Khāksār is closely connected to several cultural and religious traditions across a vast geographical area in the Orient: the territory of Persianate societies, which might also be called ‘the territory of wandering dervishes’. The extensive historical and cultural relations and associations, the similarities between the Khāksār Order and the Futuwwa tradition or religious communities (such as the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yārsān) and Bektashi order in different geographical territories), the relationship between this order and Dervish groups in Pakistan and Central Asia on the one hand and its connection with the official orthodox Shia on the other hand are the main topics dealt with in the present book.
The commonalities and cultural relations of these numerous and diverse cultural traditions as well as the heterodox movements in this region are so substantial that understanding the related aspects of each helps us gain a deeper knowledge of the whole subject matter. This symposium and the present proceedings attempt to gather as many specialists of these diverse but associated themes as possible in order to achieve a better understanding of these concepts.
Table of Contents (PDF):
Early Shiʿism and Futuwwa
  • Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi: “New Remarks on Secrecy and Concealment in Early Imāmī Shiʿism: the Case of khatm al-nubuwwa – Aspects of Twelver Shiʿi Imamology XII
  • Mohsen Zakeri: “From Futuwwa to Mystic Political Thought: – The Caliph al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh and Abū Ḥafṣ Suhrawardī’s Theory of Government

Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yāresān)

  • Philip G. Kreyenbroek: “Some Remarks on the Early History of the Ahl-e Ḥaqq”
  • Martin van Bruinessen: “Between Dersim and Dālahū – Reflections on Kurdish Alevism and the Ahl-e Ḥaqq Religion
  • Yiannis Kanakis: “Yāresān Religious Concepts and Ritual Repertoires as Elements of Larger Net-works of Socio-Political ‘Heterodoxy’ – Some Thoughts on Yāresān , Shiite and Qizilbash/Bektashi Sources and Symbolism
Cultural Anthropological Analysis
  • Jürgen Wasim Frembgen: “Beyond Muslim and Hindu – Sacred Spaces in the Thar Desert of Pakistan
  • Alexandre Papas: “Dog of God: Animality and Wildness among Dervishes”
  • Thierry Zarcone: “Sacred Stones in Qalandariyya and Bektashism”
    Khāksār
  • Mehran Afshari: “Quṭb al-Dīn Ḥaydar-e Tūnī and his Connection to the Ḥaydariyya and Khāksāriyya”
  • Shahrokh Raei: “Some Recent Issues and Challenges in the Khāksār Order”
Folk Sufism
  • Razia Sultanova: “Female Folk Sufism in the Central Asian Space-Time Continuum”
 About the Editor:
Shahrokh Raei is an scholar of Sufī and Khāksār Order and lecturer at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Freiburg.