All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

The Persianate World: Rethinking a Shared Sphere

Amanat, Abbas & Assef Ashraf (eds.). 2018. The Persianate world: Rethinking a shared sphere (Iranian Studies 18). Leiden: Brill.
The Persianate World: Rethinking a Shared Sphere is among the first books to explore the pre-modern and early modern historical ties among such diverse regions as Anatolia, the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Western Xinjiang, the Indian subcontinent, and southeast Asia, as well as the circumstances that reoriented these regions and helped break up the Persianate ecumene in modern times. Essays explore the modalities of Persianate culture, the defining features of the Persianate cosmopolis, religious practice and networks, the diffusion of literature across space, subaltern social groups, and the impact of technological advances on language. Taken together, the essays reflect the current scholarship in Persianate studies, and offer pathways for future research.

The Reception of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Works in the Islamicate World

Hubert, Thibaut d’ & Alexandre Papas (eds.). 2018. Jāmī in regional contexts. The reception of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s works in the Islamicate world, ca. 9th/15th-14th/20th Century (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section One, the Near and Middle East 128). Leiden; Boston: Brill.
Jāmī in Regional Contexts: The Reception of ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Works in the Islamicate World is the first attempt to present in a comprehensive manner how ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 898/1492), a most influential figure in the Persian-speaking world, reshaped the canons of Islamic mysticism, literature and poetry and how, in turn, this new canon prompted the formation of regional traditions. As a result, a renewed geography of intellectual practices emerges as well as questions surrounding authorship and authority in the making of vernacular cultures. Specialists of Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Georgian, Malay, Pashto, Sanskrit, Urdu, Turkish, and Bengali thus provide a unique connected account of the conception and reception of Jāmī’s works throughout the Eurasian continent and maritime Southeast Asia.

Sogdian Christianity

A Sogdian silk brocade textile fragment, dated c. 700 AD

Ashurov, Barakatullo. 2018. ‘Sogdian Christianity’: Evidence from architecture and material culture. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1–42.

This article aims to discuss the question of the inculturation of Syriac Christianity in Central Asia, based on archaeological examples including architectural evidence from a particular ethnocultural area: Sogdiana. It questions to what extent the Eastern Syriac Church has become rooted in local culture, thus enabling Christian communities to express their faith in both material and artistic ways. This article is divided into two sections which present a comprehensive study of the medieval sources relevant to the spread and establishment of Christianity in the Central Asian landmass by considering and analyzing existing tangible evidence. In doing so, it provides assessment of comparable evidence, which demonstrates both the “extended” and an “immediate” context in which Eastern Syriac Christianity was accepted, adapted and transformed into a localised expression of Christian faith.

Studies on the Sogdian Epistolary Tradition

Benkato, Adam. 2018. Studies on the Sogdian epistolary tradition (Berliner Turfantexte 41). Turnhout: Brepols.
Edition of Sogdian epistolary fragments discovered in Turfan as well as a wide-ranging comparative analysis of Sogdian epistolary formulae.

An important part of the Sogdian corpora which have come down to us are epistolary texts: both the earliest substantial Sogdian documents (the ‘Ancient Letters’) and the only substantial textual corpus found in Sogdiana itself (the Mugh documents). The Turfan collections of (especially) Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg, also preserve a number of letter fragments. Altogether, these texts attest different phases of a Sogdian epistographical tradition stretching over some seven centuries. The edition and analysis of both well-preserved and fragmentary texts can contribute to efforts to reconstruct parts of those traditions—and eventually connect them with those of Central Asia and Iran more broadly. The first part of this work is an effort to present a comprehensive edition of the Sogdian epistolary fragments in the Turfan collections of Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg. In the second part a comparative study of Sogdian epistolography is undertaken, based on the editions made in the first part, together with previously published work on other Sogdian epistolary corpora, including studies of layout, external addresses, and stamps. Additionally, an appendix by Simone-Christiane Raschmann contributes to the larger study of epistolary culture in Turfan with the edition and study of three Old Turkic fragments (two letters and one order) which shed light on the use of stamps.

Essays on Persian Poetry in Honor of Dick Davis

Seyed-Ghorab, Ali-Asghar (ed.). 2018. The layered heart: Essays on Persian poetry, a celebration in honor of Dick Davis. Washington, D.C: Mage Publishers.
The Layered Heart : Essays on Persian Poetry is published in celebration of the poet and scholar Dick Davis, dubbed “our pre-eminent translator from Persian” by The Washington Post. Edited by Ali-Asghar Seyed-Ghorab, Associate Professor of Persian at Leiden University, the volume includes twenty-one essays about Persian culture and literature, ranging from classical Persian poetry to modern literary topics. Written by foremost scholars in the field, each of the essays is original and ground-breaking either in content or in methodology, while together they encompass a broad sweep of Iranian history, from pre-Islamic times to the present. They offer a fascinating, multi-faceted view of the Persian classics – from poetry in praise of wine, and the portrayal of love in Persian-European medieval romances, to an examination of Ferdowsi’s monumental epic, the Shahnameh, its connection with the Persian oral tradition and its later reception in Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Europe. Modern topics include an analysis of Lahuti’s letter poem to Joseph Stalin, published for the first time in Persian and English, the celebrated novel My Uncle Napoleon, and trends in poetry before and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Table of Contents
  • Ehsan Yarshater: “Voyages in Literature”
  • Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak: “Continuity and Creativity: Models of Change in Persian Poetry, Classical and Modern”
  • Saeed Honarmand: “Between the Water and the Wall: The Power of Love in Medieval Persian Romance”
  • Christine van Ruymbeke: “Wretched King Mobad Loses the War of Love”
  • Asghar Seyed-Ghorab: “Of Love and Loyalty: The Middle English Floris and Blancheflour and the Persian Warqa and Golshāh”
  • Kamran Talattof: “What Kind of Wine Did Rudaki Desire? Samanids’ Search for Cultural and National Identity”
  • Paul Losensky: “Song of the Cupbearer by Mohammad Sūfī Māzandarānī”
  • Saghi Gazerani: “Zahhak’s Story and History”
  • H.E. Chehabi: “Wrestling in the Shahnameh and Later Persian Epics”
  • Sunil Sharma: “Heroes, Husbands, and Rhino Hunters: Sekandar and Bahram Gur in the Shahnameh”
  • Abbas Amanat: “Shahnameh-ye Naderi and the Revival of Epic Poetry in Post-Safavid Iran”
  • Reza Shaghaghi Zarghamee: “From Scythia to Sistan: Reconciling the Shahnameh and Herodotus to Discover the Origins of the Rostam Legend”
  • Olga M. Davidson: “On the Sources of the Shahnameh”
  • Franklin Lewis: “Shifting Allegiances: Primordial Relationships and How They Change in the Shahnameh”
  • Charles Melville: “The Shahnameh in India: Tārīkh-i Dilgushā-yi Shamshīr Khānī”
  • Margaret A. Mills:  “Kok Kohzad in Afghanistan: Local Knowledge and Shahnameh Characters”
  • Firuza Melville: “Side-Saddle Tazmin, or, the Post-Shahnameh for Victorian Children”
  • Natalia Chalisova: “Poet and Ruler: The Case of Dāstān-e gol, Lahuti’s Poem for Stalin”
  • Fatemeh Shams: “From Revolution to Silence: The Political and Literary Life of Qaysar Aminpur”
  • Saeedeh Shahnahpur: “Literature Beyond Borders: Modern Persian Novels in English Translation, The Case of Pezeshkzād’s My Uncle Napoleon”
  • John Walbridge: “Astrolabe Hunting in the Punjab”

Farnah: Indo-Iranian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of Sasha Lubotsky

Beek, Lucien, Alwin Kloekhorst, Guus Kroonen, Michaël Peyrot & Tijmen Pronk (eds.). 2018. Farnah. Indo-Iranian and Indo-European studies in honor of Sasha Lubotsky. Ann Arbor; New York: Beech Stave Press.

Over thirty specialists in Indo-European linguistics have contributed this elegant volume in honor of Prof. Sasha Lubotsky of Leiden University. Besides giving an excellent snapshot of the research currently being undertaken by his students and colleagues at that institution, Farnah contains contributions from well-known scholars across the world covering topics in Tocharian, Germanic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and Anatolian linguistics, to name a few.

Click here to see a full list of the contributions.

Table of Contents

    • Peter C. Bisschop: Vedic Elements in the Pāśupatasūtra
    • Václav Blažek: The Case of Tocharian ‘silver’: Inherited or Borrowed?
    • Michiel de Vaan: The Noncanonical Use of Instrumental Plurals in Young Avestan
    • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: Sogdian Plurals in the Vessantara Jātaka
    • Jost Gippert: A Middle Iranian Word Denoting an Office-Holder
    • Stephanie W. Jamison: The Vedic Perfect Imperative and the Status of Modal Forms to Tense-Aspect Stems
    • Michael Janda: Vedisch dhénā-: Bedeutung und Etymologie
    • Jay H. Jasanoff: The Phonology of Tocharian B okso ‘ox’
    • Jared Klein: Syncretism in Indo-European: A Natural History
    • Alwin Kloekhorst: The Origin of the Hittite ḫi-Conjugation
    • Werner Knobl: Das Demonstrativpronomen ETÁD im Ṛgveda
    • Petr Kocharov: A Comment on the Vocalization of Word-initial
      and Medial Laryngeals in Armenian
    • Frederik Kortlandt: The Indo-European k-Aorist
    • Guus Kroonen: Lachmann’s Law, Thurneysen’s Law, and a New Explanation of the PIE no-Participles
    • Leonid Kulikov: Vedic āhanás– and Its Relatives/Cognates within and outside Indo-Iranian
    • Martin Joachim Kümmel: The Survival of Laryngeals in Iranian
    • Rosemarie Lühr: Prosody in Indo-European Corpora
    • Hrach Martirosyan: Armenian Andndayin ōj and Vedic Áhi-Budhnyà– ‘Abyssal Serpent’
    • Ranko Matasović: Iranian Loanwords in Proto-Slavic: A Fresh Look
    • H. Craig Melchert: Semantics and Etymology of Hittite takš
    • Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead: PIE *gwh3-éu– ‘cow’
      Alan J. Nussbaum, A Dedicatory Thigh: Greek μηρὀς and μῆρα Once Again
    • Norbert Oettinger: Vedisch Vivásvant– und seine avestische Entsprechung
    • Birgit Anette Olsen: The Development of Interconsonantal Laryngeals in Indo-Iranian and Old Avestan ząθā ptā
    • Michaël Peyrot: Tocharian B etswe ‘mule’ and Eastern East Iranian
    • Georges-Jean Pinault: New Look at Vedic śám
    • Tijmen Pronk: Old Church Slavonic (j)utro, Vedic uṣár– ‘daybreak, morning’
    • Velizar Sadovski: Vedic and Avestan Parallels from Ritual Litanies
      and Liturgical Practices I
    • George Starostin: Typological Expectations and Historic Reality: Once Again on the Issue of Lexical Cognates between Indo-European and Uralic
    • Lucien van Beek: Greek πέδιλον ‘sandal’ and the Origin of the e-Grade in PIE ‘foot’
  • Michael Weiss: Veneti or Venetes? Observations on a Widespread Indo-European Tribal Name

Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral Texts and Testimony

Stewart, Sarah. 2018. Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral texts and testimony (Part 1: Urban contexts: Kerman, Tehran, Ahwaz, Esfahan, Shiraz), vol. 1. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 17). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Voices from Zoroastrian Iran (Volumes I and II) is the result of an oral studies research project that maps the remaining Zoroastrian communities in Iran and explores what has happened to their religious lives and social structures since the Revolution of 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic.
Interviews included in Volume 1 are with Zoroastrians from the urban centres of Tehrān, Kermān, Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān. Participants refer to community leaders, historical figures, local events, teachers and religious texts that have shaped their views and understanding of the religion. They also address the impact of recent history upon their lives. The religion itself is presented as understood by those interviewed, drawn largely from the interpretations of Iranian scholars and scholar-priests, as opposed to those of predominantly western scholars. A chapter in the book is devoted to a survey of the main Iranian Zoroastrian religious observances as well as some popular customs. As a result of the new Constitution, the return to shari ‘a and the eight-year war with Iraq that followed the Revolution, the relationship between Zoroastrians and the state changed. The new political environment began to shape the religious and social identities of the next generation through Zoroastrian institutions such as the anjomans (councils) as well as those established by the government of the Islamic Republic.
The interviews for this book span a period of living memory that reflects both pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. The views expressed are informed by the changes that took place during that time and throw light on subjects as diverse as education, emigration, conversion and religious reform. The vol. 2 is planed to come out in 2019.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Background and Context: Religion
  • Chapter 2 Devotional Life: Customs and Observances
  • Chapter 3 Background and Context: Society
  • Chapter 4 Kermān
  • Chapter 5 Tehrān
  • Chapter 6 Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān
  • Conclusions

Read the detailed table of contents here.

Polemical Aspects in an Early Judeo-Persian Bible Exegesis

Haim, Ofir. 2018. Polemical Aspects in an Early Judeo-Persian Bible Exegesis: The Commentary on the Story of  Ḥannah (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). Entangled  Religions 6(Special Issue: Historical Engagements and Interreligious Encounters-Jews and Christians in Premodern and Early Modern Asia and Africa). 163–200.
The article discusses the attitude towards Christians, Muslims, and the “foreign sciences” based on one of the only extant polemical texts written in Early Judeo-Persian—a passage from an unpublished commentary on story of Ḥannah preserved in the National Library of Russia (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). In addition, the article attempts to define the relation of this commentary to the broader intellectual environment of the medieval Jewish world. A close examination of this passage reveals a possible connection to Karaite exegetical work written in Judeo-Arabic during the tenth century, particularly those of Yefet ben ʿEli. Therefore, the article may serve as a case study of intellectual contact and transmission of knowledge between different Jewish groups in the Islamicate world.

Personal names in Iranian Manichaica

Colditz, Iris. 2018. Iranische Personennamen in manichäischer Überlieferung (Iranisches Personennamenbuch Mitteliranische Personennamen II/Faszikel 1). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
This volume presents for the first time a full collection of the personal names attested in Iranian sources of Manichaeism, an ancient dualistic and syncretistic world religion (3rd–14th century). This extremely heterogeneous corpus from the Central Asian Turfan oasis (Xinjiang, China) goes back to the golden age of Manichaeism in the Uygur steppe empire and the kingdom of Qočo (8th–11th century) but can be partly traced back to more ancient originals. It comprises ca. 4700 text fragments in Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Bactrian and New Persian written in Manichaean, Sogdian and Old Turkish runic scripts. The 766 entries contain Iranian, hybrid, and non-Iranian names, which reflect the ethnic and religious diversity of the peoples along the Silk Road. The name bearers are historical persons as well as fictitious characters from myth and literature. Obsolete and differing readings as well as “ghost names” are specifically marked. The presentation of the names follows the guidelines of the Iranisches Personennamenbuch. Each entry lists transliteration, transcription and all references of the name, including spelling variants, text duplicates and versions in other scripts or languages, followed by prosopographical data: titles, designations of offices or professions. Reference is made to indirect transmissions of the name (“Nebenüberlieferung”) in non-Iranian Manichaica, the writings of Arabic historians and in antiheretical Christian and Zoroastrian scriptures. At the end follows the morphological and etymological interpretation of the name. The explored material is displayed in detailed indexes. The volume is of special interest to specialists in Iranian studies, linguistics, religious studies and history.

Alphabet scribes in the land of cuneiform

Bloch, Yigal. 2018. Alphabet scribes in the land of cuneiform: sepiru professionals in Mesopotamia in the neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods (Gorgias Studies in the Ancient Near East 11). Piscataway, NJ, USA: Gorgias Press.
This book discusses the alphabetic scribes (sēpiru) mentioned in Mesopotamian documents of the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods – specifically, of the 6th-5th centuries bce. The period in question saw a wide diffusion of writing in the Northwest Semitic alphabetic script – mostly in Aramaic – in Mesopotamia; yet, alphabetic texts were normally written in ink on perishable materials and did not survive to be discovered by modern archaeologists. In contrast, cuneiform tablets written on clay have been found in large numbers, and they document different aspects of the alphabetic scribes’ activities. This book presents evidence for understanding the Akkadian term sēpiru as a designation for an alphabetic scribe and discusses the functions of these professionals in different administrative and economic spheres. It further considers the question of the ethnic origins of the alphabetic scribes in Mesopotamia, with special attention to the participation of Judeans in Babylonia in this profession. Bloch also provides translations of over 100 cuneiform documents of economic, legal and administrative content.