All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

New Research on Central Asian, Buddhist and Far Eastern Art and Archaeology

Juliano, Annette & Judith Lerner (eds.). 2019. Inner and Central Asian art and archaeology. Vol. 2. New research. Turnhout: Brepols.

This second volume of the series offers a broad range of subject matter from an equally broad range of regions. Michael Shenkar compares a particular type of deity from the Parthian West (Palmyra, Hatra) with the colossal image of a divinity from Akchakhan-kala in ancient Choresmia (part of modern-day Uzbekistan). Careful iconographic analysis of a sealing showing the god Mithra, found at Kafir Qala near Samarkand, allows Fabrizio Sinisi to suggest a Kushan origin for the seal that made the impression. Several contributions on Sogdiana concern its archaeology and early history (Bi Bo on Kangju and Sogdiana); the iconography of one of the major wall painting cycles at Panjikent (Matteo Compareti) as well as the city’s temples and deities worshipped (Markus Mode). By drawing on archaeological, ethnological and historical data, Sören Stark offers an extensive discussion of mountain pastoralism and seasonal occupation in northern Tajikistan, north of the Zerafshan River in what were borderlands for Sogdiana. Rounding out the first part of this volume is Suzanne G. Valentine’s publication of a Bactrian camel clay sculpture, excavated in the Sui-Tang capital of Xi’an, its saddlebags decorated with an unusual motif. The second and last part is guest-edited by John Clarke, convener of a Buddhist conference in 2010. This section contains updated or new papers by some of the participants—Naman P. Ahuja on Buddhist imagery in Bengal; Amy Heller on the impact of Kashmiri art on Guge and Ladakh; Deborah Klimburg-Salter on Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Afghanistan; and Michael Willis on sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum—along with that of Chiara Bellini on the restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek and the dating of the Ladakhi temple.

Table of Contents
On Central Asian Art and Archaeology
·      Michael SHENKAR – “The Chorasmian Gad: On the “Colossal” Figure from Akchakhan-kala”
·      Fabrizio SINISI – “A Kushan Investiture Scene with Mithra on a Seal Impression from Kafir Qala, Samarkand”
·      BI Bo – “Recent Archaeological Discoveries Regarding Kangju and Sogdiana”
·      Matteo COMPARETI – “Simurgh or Farr? On the Representation of Fantastic Creatures in the Sogdian ‘Rustam Cycle’ at Panjikent”
·      Markus MODE – “In the Heart of the City: On Sogdian Temples and Deities at Panjikent”

On Buddhist Sculpture:
Papers from a Symposium held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, November 8 and 9, 2010, and Papers Inspired by the Symposium
·      John CLARKE (Guest Editor) – “Introduction”
·      Naman P. AHUJA – “Rethinking the History of Buddhist Imagery in Bengal, circa 200 BCE – 700 CE”
·      Michael WILLIS – “Markham Kittoe and Sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum”
·      Deborah KLIMBURG-SALTER – “Buddhist Pilgrimage to India: Bamiyan, Kapisa
·      -Kabul, and Mes Aynak”
·      Amy HELLER – “Tracing the Impact of Kashmiri Art in Guge and Ladakh, Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries”
·      Chiara BELLINI – “Some Other Pieces of the Puzzle: The Restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek by Tashi Namgyal and Other Considerations on the Dating of the Ladakhi Temple”

On Far Eastern Art and Archaeology
·      Bonnie CHENG – “The Underground Silk Road – Pictorial Affinities in Fifth-century Cave Temples and Tombs”
·      Heather D. CLYDESDALE – “Buried Towers: Artistic Innovation on China’s Frontier”
·      Suzanne G. VALENSTEIN with Annette L. JULIANO and Judith A. LERNER – “Hellenism in Sui-Tang Chang’an: Dionysiac Imagery on Mortuary Camels”
Young-pil KWON – “Note on Border Patterns Dividing the Earthly and Heavenly Realms in Goguryeo Tomb Paintings”

Fire in Zoroastrian and Manichaean Apocalyptic

König, Götz. 2019. The Idea of an Apocalyptic Fire According to the Old and Middle Iranian Sources. In Jochen Althoff, Dominik Berrens & Tanja Pommerening (eds.), Finding, Inheriting or Borrowing? The Construction and Transfer of Knowledge in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 313–342. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

A reasonable method through which to approach the reconstruction of religious phenomena in Iran would be to view the phenomena involved from this double perspective involving vertical and horizontal relationships. Defining the perennial and the changing elements, kernels and agglomerations, etc., would surely be helpful in this respect. So too would the drawing up of chronologies related to the history of religious ideas in Iran. The idea of an apocalypse – and this idea is, as we shall see, essentially the idea of the end of the world in fire – is a good example upon which to base a historical analysis located in the aforementioned double bipolar field: Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism; Avesta and late antique religious text.

This article as well as the whole volume are open access, available for free download.

Mithras – Miθra – Mitra

Lahe, Jaan. 2019. Mithras – Miθra – Mitra. Der römische Gott Mithras aus der Perspektive der vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte (Kasion 3). München: Zaphon.

The Roman Mithras cult is one of the so-called “oriental cults” that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Although ancient tradition regards it as a Persian cult, Franz Cumont (the “father of modem Mithraic-study”), and many scholars have been convinced of its Iranian origin. All the information presently available to us opposes this view and suggests that the Roman Mithras cult was not an imported cult from Iran, but a cult that developed within the borders of the Roman Empire and grew there after the end of the first century A.D. It is certain that this cult would not have originated among the Romans if the Iranian god Mithra had been unknown to them. We know that Graeco-Roman authors diseminated infor­mation about the god Mithra. Since the regions of the East, where the deity Mithra was worshiped prior to the Roman Mithraic cult ( especially in Asia Minor), belonged to the Roman Empire, it is very likely that the Romans saw visual representations of this god and thus became familiar with Mithraic iconography.

The author of the present book assumes that the Roman cult of Mithras is not identical with the cult of Mithra/Mithras/Mithres in the Hellenistic East or even in Iranian religion, but must be regarded as an independent cult in the context of Roman religion. At the same time, the author is convinced that an important link existed between the three cults mentioned above. It is not only the name of the god, which goes back to an Indo-Iranian appellative mitra (Neutr.), but also the figure or personality of the god, who in the Roman Empire was called Mithras, in the Hellenistic Orient Mithra or Mithres and in Iran Miθra/Mithra (later Mihr). The author, on the basis of the literary, epigraphic and nunmismatic sources and other representations of the god, compares the personality of “Mithra” ( used here as the summary meta-name for different deities).

Archery in Achaemenid and Parthian Kingships

Panaino, Antonio. 2019. Symbolic and Ideological Implications of Archery in Achaemenid and Parthian Kingships. In Federicomaria Muccioli, Alessandro Cristofori & Alice Bencivenni (eds.), Philobiblos: scritti in onore di Giovanni Geraci, 19–66. Roma: Jouvence.

Achaemenid Royal Archers, Coloured glazed terracotta brick panels, Susa, around 510 BC

The present study is a fruit of a larger investigation dedicated to the ideological meaning of archery in Iran in the light of other Eastern civilizations, but also in the framework of the ancient Indo-Iranian epos. This investigation brought to light a number of historical problems.

Iranian Religions: Zoroastrianism, Yezidis and Bahaism

Hutter, Manfred. 2019. Iranische Religionen: Zoroastrismus, Yezidentum, Bahāʾītum. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Das Studienbuch ist aus Erfahrungen des Unterrichts zu den im Untertitel genannten Religionen erwachsen, wobei der methodische Zugang religionshistorisch (bis zur Gegenwart) und religionsvergleichend ist. Daher werden die drei Religionen der Zoroastrier, Yeziden und Baha’i in einer weitgehend parallelen Struktur beschrieben, um so das gemeinsame “iranische Erbe” sichtbar zu machen, ohne die jeweiligen Eigenheiten der drei Religionen zu nivellieren oder zu harmonisieren. Behandelt werden (bei jeder der drei Religionen) u.a. identitätsstiftende Faktoren für die Religion und die Religion als identitätsmarker, ferner “klassische” Themen zu Welt- und Menschenbild inklusive ethische Herausforderungen sowie das weite Feld der (rituellen) Praxis. Genauso kommen jeweils Organisationsstrukturen sowie die einbettung der Religion in den gesellschaftlichen und religionspolitischen Diskurs im iranischen Raum im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert sowie die Verbreitung im deutschsprachigen Raum seit zwei bis drei Generationen zur Sprache. Kap. 6 geht auch auf die Religionspolitik der Islamischen Republik Iran ein.

Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Taṣḥīḥ-o tarǧome-ye Sutgar nask va Varšt-mānsar nask az Dēnkard-e 9 va sanǧeš-e in do nask bā matnhā-ye avestāʾi [An Edition and Translation of Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9 in comparison with the Avestan texts]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

The Middle Persian Dēnkard “Acts of the religion” is a summary of 10th-century Zoroastrian knowledge of religion, considered as the “Mazdean encyclopedia”. It is divided into nine books of which, the first two and the beginning of the third are lost. The Book IX of Dēnkard consists commentaries on the three great Mazdean prayers: Ahunwar, Ašem vohū, and Yeŋ́hē hātąm from the gathic nasks of Sūtkar, Varštmānsar, and Bagnasks. Tafażżolī’s edition comprises the first two nasks, which are of mythical and historical contents.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. This volume is his for the first time postmortemously published doctoral thesis in ancient Iranian languages, defended on 1965 under the direction of Ṣādeq Kiā at the Tehran University. Furthermore he left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are also recently publihsed in The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli.



The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Maqālāt-e Aḥmad Tafażżolī [The collected writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Toos Publications.

The collection includes Aḥmad Tafażżolī’s published Persian scholorly articles on various subjects of ancient and middle Iranian studies, Iranian philology as well as Zoroastrian studies in two sections and 472 pages. The first sections comprises 55 articles and the second section is devoted to his reviews and contains 19 reviews and critical seurvays, edited by Zhaleh Amuzgar.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. His doctoral dissertation on Dēnkard IX is published recently posthumously. He left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are gathered and edited in this volume.

The table of contents of this volume can be seen here.

Irano-Judaica VII

Rubanovich, Julia & Geoffrey Herman (eds.). 2019. Irano-Judaica VII: Studies Relating to Jewish Contacts with Persian Culture throughout the Ages. Vol. VII. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East.
The volume includes twenty-three papers, arranged in five thematic parts, which reflect the variety of subjects the volume encompasses. Part One deals with the topics of law, ritual and eschatology in Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Part Two is devoted to the textual patterns and transmission in Avestan and Middle Persian sources. Jewish-Iranian historical and literary interrelations through the centuries, including the literary perception of Jews in Persian literature and Iranian folklore, are the focus of Part Three. The articles in Part Four highlight specific patterns of permutations that Jewish, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and Christian motifs, themes and concepts undergo while migrating from one religious and social milieu to another. The fifth and the last section of the volume is devoted to Judaeo-Persian language and literature: a Hebrew text and early Judaeo-Persian translation of a large portion of the seventh chapter of Jeremiah are presented and analyzed for the first time; the Jewish reception of a Persian classical text is discussed, and the literary legacy of two medieval Judaeo-Persian poets, Shāhīn and ʿImrānī, is further investigated.
Table of Contents
Part One: Law, Ritual and Eschatology in Zoroastrianism and Judaism
  • Almut Hintze: “Defeating Death: Eschatology in Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity”
  • Maria Macuch: “A Pahlavi Legal Term in Jesubōxt’s Corpus Iuris”
  • Benjamin Jokisch: “Cultural Intertwinedness and the Problem of Proving Reception. A Case Study on Late Antique Foundations: ruwānagān, heqdēsh, piae causae, and waqf
  • Yaakov Elman: “Samuel’s Scythe-handle: Sasanian Mortgage Law in the Bavli”
  • David Brodsky: “‘Thought Is Akin to Action’: The Importance of Thought in Zoroastrianism and the Development of a Babylonian
    Rabbinic Motif”

Part Two: Textual Patterns and Transmission in Avestan and Middle Persian Sources

  • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “Observations on the Form of Avestan Texts in the Context of Neighboring Traditions”
  • Mihaela Timuș: “Les raisonnements taxinomiques dans le Dēnkard 3″
  • Dieter Weber: “Christlich-jüdische Spuren in Pahlavi-Dokumenten des 7. Jhs. n. Chr.”
  • Yaakov Elman: “The Hērbedestān in the Hērbedestān: Priestly Teaching from the Avesta to the Zand”

Part Three: Jewish-Iranian Historical and Literary
Interrelations through the Centuries

  • Domenico Agostini: “Luhrāsp and the Destruction of Jerusalem: A Note on Jewish-Iranian Syncretism”
  • Geoffrey Herman: “Back to Bustanay: The History of a Legend”
  • Julia Rubanovich: “On Representations of Jews in Medieval Persian Epic Poetry”
  • Orly R. Rahimiyan: “The Image of the Jew in Iranian Folklore”

Part Four: Texts and Motifs: Between Interaction and Polemics
Reuven Kiperwasser “ʻThree Partners in a Personʼ: The Metamorphoses of a Tradition and the History of an Idea”

  • Yishai Kiel: “The Usurpation of Solomon’s Throne by Ashmedai (b.Giṭ. 68a-b): A Talmudic Story in Its Iranian and Christian Contexts”
  • Sergey Minov: “Jews and Christians in Late Sasanian Nisibis:
    The Evidence of the Life of Mār Yāreth the Alexandrian
  • Samuel Thrope: “Therefore He Himself is the Demon, Lord of Hell: On Manichaean and Zoroastrian Anti-Judaism”

Part Five: Judaeo-Persian Language and Literature

  • Gilbert Lazard: “La dialectologie du persan préclassique à la lumière des nouvelles données judéo-persanes”
  • Shaul Shaked: “A Fragment of the Book of Jeremiah in Early Judaeo-Persian”
  • Vera B. Moreen: “Reflections on a Judaeo-Persian Manuscript of Rūmī’s Mathnavī
  • Nahid Pirnazar: “Observations on the Epic Legacy in Judaeo-Persian Poetry”
  • Vera B. Moreen: “Shāhīn’s Interpretation of Shira and Haʾazinu

Hebrew Section

  • Alex Tal: “Between Jews and Gentiles in Talmudic Babylonia: Reading between the Lines”

Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the Goddess Anāhitā

Goddess Anāhitā at the investiture of Narseh (c. 293-303), Naqš-e Rostam, Fārs, Iran

Tanabe, Katsumi. 2018. Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the goddess Anāhitā: Identification of the female figure in the investiture scene of Narseh at Naqsh-i Rustam. Japan Society for Hellnistic-Islam Archaeological Studies 25. 9–26.

The rock-cut relief depicting the investiture scene of the Sasanian King of Kings, Narseh (293-302) at Naqsh-i Rustam in southern Iran has been investigated by many scholars since the beginning of the twentieth century CE . As regards the iconography of this relief, one of a few problems that have not yet gained scholarly consensus is the identification of the female figure depicted on the viewer’s rightmost side of the relief.

Currently there are two major hypotheses as regards the identification. One of them is to identify the female figure as the Zoroastrian goddess of water, Anāhitā (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā). The other is to identify it as the queen of Narseh, Šābuhrduxtag (Shāpuhrdukhtak).

Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism

Kassam, Zayn R., Yudit Kornberg Greenberg & Jehan Bagli (eds.). 2018. Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism (Encyclopedia of Indian Religions 15157). New York, NY: Springer.

The earlier volume in this series dealt with two religions of Indian origin, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. The Indian religious scene, however, is characterized by not only religions which originated in India but also by religions which entered India from outside India and made their home here. Thus religious life in India has been enlivened throughout its history by the presence of religions of foreign origin on its soil almost from the very time they came into existence. This volume covers three such religions—Zoraoastrianism, Judaism, and Islam . In the case of Zoraostianism, even its very  beginnings  are intertwined with India, as Zoroastrianism reformed a preexisting religion which had strong links to the Vedic heritage of India. This relationship took on a new dimension when a Zoroastrian community, fearing persecution in Persia after its Arab conquest, sought shelter in western India and ultimately went on to produce India’s pioneering nationalist in the figure of Dadabhai Naoroji ( 1825-1917), also known as the Grand Old Man of India. Jews found refuge in south India after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. and have remained a part of the Indian religious scene since then, some even returning to Israel after it was founded in 1948. Islam arrived in Kerala as soon as it was founded and one of the earliest mosques in the history of Islam is found in India. Islam differs from the previously mentioned religions inasmuch as it went on to gain political hegemony over parts of the country for considerable periods of time, which meant that its impact on the religious life of the subcontinent has been greater compared to the other religions. It has also meant that Islam has existed in a religiously plural environment in India for a longer period than elsewhere in the world so that not only has Islam left a mark on India, India has also left its mark on it. Indeed all the three religions covered in this volume share this dual feature, that they have profoundly influenced Indian religious life and have also in turn been profoundly influenced by their presence in India.