All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

Safavid Occidentalism and Persian Painting

In ʿAli Qoli Jebādār et l’Occidentalism safavide Negar Habibi provides a fresh account of the life and works of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār, a leading painter of the late Safavid period. By collecting several of the artist’s paintings and signatures Habibi brings to light the diversity of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār’s most important works. In addition, the volume offers us new insights into both the artistic and socio-political evolution of Iranian society in the last days of pre-modern Iran. By carefully consulting the historical sources, Negar Habibi demonstrates the possibility of a female and eunuch patronage in the seventeenth-century paintings known as farangi sāzi, while suggesting the use of the term “Occidentalism” for those Safavid paintings that show some exotic and alien details of the Western world.

Continue reading Safavid Occidentalism and Persian Painting

Tāq-e Kasrā: Wonder of Architecture

Kasra: Wonder of Architecture

Directed by Pejman Akbarzadeh

7.00pm, Thursday 1 February 2018

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of London
Russell Square WC1H 0XG
Tāq-e Kasrā (Arch of Ctesiphon) in 2017. Photo © Pejman Akbarzadeh

Taq Kasra: Wonder of Architecture is the first-ever documentary film on the world’s largest brickwork vault. The palace was the symbol of the Persian Empire in the Sasanian era (224-651 AD), when a major part of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) was part of Persia. Taq Kasra was in serious danger of ISIS attacks in 2015-2016 and this was the main motivation for documentary maker Pejman Akbarzadeh, based in Holland, to travel to Iraq twice and film the arch before it was potentially destroyed. (Read more)

Watch the trailer here.

The documentary is produced by the Persian Dutch Network, in association with Toos Foundation, and partially funded by the Soudavar Memorial Foundation.

Following the screening, a Q&A session will be held with the presence of the documentary director Pejman Akbarzadeh and Vesta Sarkhosh-Curis of the British Museum, a scholar of Persian art in Sasanian and Parthian eras.

Admission Free – All Welcome

Organised by: Centre for Iranian Studies

Information: E-mail vp6@soas.ac.uk

Dēnkard and the Socio-Religious Identity in the Early-Islamic Iran

 

The aim of the present paper is to illustrate as a case study, the linguistic and stylistic peculiarities characterizing the third book of the Dēnkard, one of the most authoritative texts in Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature (9th-10th CE). The analysis will consider these features as part of a coherent system, styled to serve the dialectic strategies pursued by the Zoroastrian high priests in response to the pressures their own community was facing in the early Islamic period. In order to provide a more comprehensive overview on DkIII language distinctiveness, the research will underline the outward/inward dynamics, addressing both the relation of this theological dialectic with the surrounding socio-cultural environment and the leadingrole claims of a group within a politically subordinated community.

Sasanian coins, middle-Persian etymology and the Tabarestān archive

Gyselen, Rika (ed.). 2017. Sasanian coins, middle-Persian etymology and the Tabarestān archive. (Res Orientales 26). Bures sur Yvette: Groupe d’Etude de la Civilisation du Moyen-Orient.

Table of Contents:
  • Rika Gyselen; Malek Iradj Mochiri together with Hendrik Hameeuw: “Une collection de monnaies sassanides de billon, de cuivre et de plomb”
  • Rüdiger Schmidt: “Zu Lesung und Interpretation sasanidischer Monogramme”
  • Alicia Van Ham-Meert; Bruno Overlaet; Philippe Claeys and Patrick Degryse: “The Use of micro-XRF for the elemental analysis of Sasanian lead coins from the collections of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels”The Tabarestan archive (VIIIth century)
  • Dieter Weber: “Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan on Lease, Loan and Compensation: A Philological Study”
  • Maria Macuch: “Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan on Lease, Loan and Compensation: The Juristic Context”

The Imagery of the Ritual Landscape at Persepolis

Garrison, Mark B. 2017. The ritual landscape at persepolis: glyptic imagery from the persepolis fortification and treasury archives. (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 71). Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

There are, perhaps, no more contentious issues within the study of Achaemenid Persia than those surrounding its religion(s) and religious iconography. Owing to the role that fire plays in Zoroastrian beliefs in later periods in Iran, almost any discussion of the subject of Achaemenid religion will eventually turn to the identification of sacred fire, fire temples, fire worship, and fire altars in the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary records.

The focus of this book is a corpus of glyptic imagery preserved as impressions on two large archives of administrative tablets from Persepolis, the Persepolis Fortification archive (509-493 BC) and the Persepolis Treasury archive (492-457 BC). The glyptic imagery here published concerns representations of what have been traditionally termed “fire altars” and/or “fire temples.” Most of this glyptic evidence has never been published; many of the structures and the scenes in which they occur are strikingly original.
The goals of this study are to introduce a new corpus of visual imagery concerning religious ritual in the Achaemenid period and to explore the significance of this visual language for our understanding of ritual traditions emerging within the heart of the empire at its most critical formative period, the reign of Darius I. This study seeks also to use the Persepolitan glyptic evidence as a springboard to re-visit the most famous “fire altar” depicted in Achaemenid art, that on the tomb relief of Darius I at Naqs-e Rostam.

This study is an initial step in the development of a religious topography for the zone encompassing Persepolis and Naqs-e Rostam, both a topography on the imaginary level (through images) and a topography on the physical level (through the built space). The glyptic images assembled in this study are the most numerous, the most visually complex, and the best dated and contextualized evidence that currently exists for the study of fire in ritual, and religious ritual more broadly, in early Achaemenid Iran.

You can download and read this volume here.

Pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians

Hameen-Anttila, Jaakko (ed.). 2017. Al-Maqrīzī’s al-Ḫabar ʻan al-bašar. vol. V, section 4: Persia and its kings, part I (Bibliotheca Maqriziana 5). Leiden: Brill.

Al-Maqrīzī’s (d. 845/1442) last work, al-Ḫabar ʿan al-bašar, was completed a year before his death. This volume, edited by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, covers the history of pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians. Al-Maqrīzī’s work shows how Arab historians integrated Iran into world history and how they harmonized various currents of historiography (Middle Persian historiography, Islamic sacred history, Greek and Latin historiography).

Among al-Ḫabar’s sources is Kitāb Hurūšiyūš, the Arabic translation of Paulus Orosius’ Historiarum adversum paganos libri vii. This source has only been preserved in one defective copy, and al-Maqrīzī’s text helps to fill in some of its lacunae.

Continue reading Pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians

The Sanskrit Yasna

Goldman, Leon. 2017. The Sanskrit Yasna Manuscript S1. Facsimile Edition (Corpus Avesticum / Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 2 South Asia, 32/1). Leiden: Brill.
The manuscript S1 is one of the chief witnesses to the Sanskrit Yasna, containing the Avestan text of the Zoroastrian Yasna liturgy to chapter 46.19, together with a Sanskrit translation and commentary. This book contains the complete, full-colour set of facsimile images of S1.
An introduction by Leon Goldman provides an overview of the Zoroastrian Sanskrit tradition together with a discussion of the S1 manuscript covering its physical appearance, its age and history, and for the first time, a detailed palaeographic analysis of the Avestan and Sanskrit text.

Continue reading The Sanskrit Yasna

A Zoroastrian Doctrine in the Manichaean Reception

Panaino, Antonio. 2017. The end of time and the ‘Laws of Zoroaster’. A Zoroastrian doctrine in the Manichaean reception. In Francesco Calzolaio, Erika Petrocchi, Marco Valisano & Alessia Zubani (eds.), In limine. Esplorazioni attorno all’idea di confine, 61–68 (Studi e Ricerche 9). Venezia: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Zoroastrian theology clearly insisted on the assumption that historical time was limited and that in its borders ‘evil’ should be destroyed. Practically, ‘time’ and ‘space’ were a sort of weapon used by Ohrmazd in order to entrap Ahreman and his demonic army. In this spatio-temporal frame – work, the end of historical time involved also the end of Ahreman himself, so that one of the actions enacted by the ‘Antagonist Spirit’ would be that of trying to delay and stop its regular course. Recent studies on the Manichaean Coptic Kephalaia of Dublin confirm the importance of this Mazdean doctrine and present a direct witness of this theological dogma, which was presented in a way conveniently fitting for the Gnostic religion professed by Mani.

Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia

Kadoi, Yuka (ed.). 2017. Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

In this illustrated book, nine contributors explore multifaceted aspects of art, architecture and material culture of the Persian cultural realm, encompassing West Asia, Anatolia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Europe. Each chapter examines the historical, religious or scientific role of visual culture in the shaping, influencing and transforming of distinctive ‘Persian’ aesthetics across the various historical periods, ranging from pre-Islamic, medieval and early modern Islamic to modern times.

Table of Contents:
  • Judith A. Lerner: “The Visual Culture of Greater Iran: Some Examples of Kushano-Sasanian Art”
  • Matteo Compareti: “The Late Sasanian Figurative Capitals at Taq-i Bustan: Proposals Regarding Identification and Origins
  • Richard Piran McClary: “Architecture of the Wider Persian World: From Central Asia to Western Anatolia in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”
  • Yuka Kadoi: “From Acquisition to Display: The Reception of Chinese Ceramics in the Pre-modern Persian World”
  • Tobias Nünlist: “Devotion and Protection: Four Amuletic Scrolls from Safavid Persia”
  • Iván Szántó: “The Minarets of Hurmuzgan”
  • Raquel Santos: “Persia, India or Indo-Persian? The Study of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Knotted Pile Carpets”
  • Francesco Stermotich-Cappellari: “The Calligraphic Art of Mishkin Qalam”
  • Markus Ritter: “The Kashan Mihrab in Berlin: A Historiography of Persian Lustreware”

The Dēnkard Against its Islamic Discourse

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2017. The Dēnkard Against its Islamic Discourse. Der Islam 94(2).

The Dēnkard is the most exhaustive Pahlavi work ever produced in Zoroastrianism. Due to the large amount of information included in it, this body of work has often been referred to within the field of Iranian Studies as a ‘Zoroastrian Encyclopedia’. This article discusses two main points. First, it holds that it was not the intention of the Dēnkard’s authors and editors to compose a Zoroastrian encyclopedia in the 9th and 10th centuries. By contrast, the independent texts which serve as the basis of this compilation deal with other religions or present a Zoroastrian apologetic. It also claims that the Dēnkard has not been perceived as an encyclopedia in later Zoroastrianism. Second, the article scrutinizes the editorial process that led to this book. It furthermore argues that the Dēnkard, in its current form, has been structured to resemble the Zoroastrian world history comprising nine millennia. This article aims, moreover, to show that the last three books of the Dēnkard aim to depict Zoroastrians as belonging to the People of the Book. The article finally argues that the Dēnkard should be considered entirely a theological apologetic within an inter-religious context, which was mainly carried by Muslim theologians.