All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

A Sogdian Fragment from Niya

Sims-Williams, Nicholas & Bi Bo. 2018. A Sogdian fragment from Niya. In Huaiyu Chen & Xinjiang Rong (eds.), Great journeys across the Pamir mountains (Brill’s Inner Asian Library 37), 83–104. Leiden: Brill.

In 1994, the Sino-Japanese Niya Expedition Team excavated an artifact (93A27F1:3) at Niya. It is a small brown package or pouch made from a piece of paper (originally mistaken for parchment) fastened by a woolen string. Traces of writing were visible, so the artifact was provisionally referred to as “A Kharoṣṭhī text written on parchment” in the preliminary report of its discovery. In 2007, when the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology’s research group on Niya was editing the third volume of the Report on the Sino-Japanese Joint Expedition in Niya, they carefully examined this “parchment text.” After the string was untied, it was found that the paper had been used to wrap up a powder of vegetable origin, perhaps spices or medicine. When the powder was removed, a text written in black ink in a clear script was visible. Noting that the writing appeared to be the same as that of the Sogdian “Ancient Letters” found near Dunhuang, which were written in the early fourth century, and other Sogdian fragments of similar date found at Loulan, the local archaeologists were able to determine that this new fragment was also written in early Sogdian script.

Ritual Formulae, Structures, and Activities in Vedic and Avestan Liturgies

Sadovski, Velizar. 2018. Ritual formulae, structures, and activities in Vedic and Avestan liturgies. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 71/1. 81134.

Die Arbeit präsentiert Untersuchungen zu einer Reihe von Begriffen aus dem Bereich des indoiranischen Kultus bzw. Rituals einerseits in ihrem Kontext innerhalb der vedischen und avestischen Ritualdichtung und -praxis und andererseits vom Standpunkt ihrer mythologischen Relevanz, insbesondere in Bezug auf ihre Rolle für die „Mythopoia“ in den Sakraltexten von Indern und Iraniern. So werden einerseits Personifikationen bzw. Deifikationen derartiger Kultbegriffe geschildert, andererseits verschiedene Mechanismen ihrer Kombinatorik auf syntagmatischer, intra-textueller Ebene (innerhalb des Kontexts eines liturgischen Hymnus/Vorgangs) bzw. auf inter-textueller Ebene, im Rahmen des Hypertexts der aus zahlreichen einzelnen Litaneien bestehenden Ritualhymnen und in den aus ganzen solchen Einzelliturgien bestehenden Ritualkomplexen dargestellt. – Der vorliegende Aufsatz entwickelt dabei die Idee über die fundamentale Rolle von Katalogen, Listen und Enumerationen als poetische, aber auch als mythologische und kosmologische Form: Basierend auf mehreren früheren Studien des Verfassers, die das Funktionieren solcher intertextuell verbundenen Textcorpora in der indoiranischen Ritualdichtung vor allem textlinguistisch, vom formalen, kompositionellen und kognitiven Standpunkt behandeln, gibt nun das Thema „Ritus im Mythos“ die Gelegenheit, die katalogisch aufgebauten Formen von Litaneien und Liturgien in den vedischen Sakraltexten vom RV an (insbesondere in den RV-Khilas und dem Yajurveda) und in der ‚Langen Liturgie‘ des Avesta sowie ihre Bedeutung sowohl zur rituellen „Wieder-Erschaffung des Universums“ mit jedem Kultakt und -text als auch zur Mythologisierung entsprechender Begriffe mit rituellem Inhalt zu untersuchen.

The Frawardīn Yašt

Malandra, William W. 2018. The Frawardīn Yašt. Introduction, translation, text, commentary and glossary (Ancient Iran Series 7). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
From the Preface of this volume:
With the encouragement of Professor Touraj Daryaee, I have undertaken a new edition of my old The Fravaši Yašt: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary, diss. University of Pennsylvania, 1971 [University Microfilms, Ann Arbor]. At the time when I wrote the dissertation I was very much under the influence of W. B. Henning’s “The Disintegration of the Avesta Studies” and the then recent book by I. Gershevitch The Avestan Hymn to Mithra. I expressed my misgivings concerning Henning’s stress-accent theory in my Preface, but was not prepared to tackle the issue, and thus treated the text as if it were prose. In the years since it has become abundantly clear that much of the Yašts were originally composed in verse, as best articulated by K. F. Geldner in his Über die Metrik des jüngeren Avesta (1877). Thus, Part II of the present work is devoted to a study of metrics and their importance for understanding the formation of the Yašts and particularly the Frawardīn. In order to make manifest the structure of Avestan poetry I have laid out the translation and text according to my construction of the Avestan.

The Shahnameh: the Persian epic in world literature

Dabashi, Hamid. 2019. The Shahnameh: the Persian epic in world literature. New York: Columbia University Press.

The Shahnameh, an epic poem recounting the foundation of Iran across mythical, heroic, and historical ages, is the beating heart of Persian literature and culture. Composed by Abu al-Qasem Ferdowsi over a thirty-year period and completed in the year 1010, the epic has entertained generations of readers and profoundly shaped Persian culture, society, and politics. For a millennium, Iranian and Persian-speaking people around the globe have read, memorized, discussed, performed, adapted, and loved the poem.

In this book, Hamid Dabashi brings the Shahnameh to renewed global attention, encapsulating a lifetime of learning and teaching the Persian epic for a new generation of readers. Dabashi insightfully traces the epic’s history, authorship, poetic significance, complicated legacy of political uses and abuses, and enduring significance in colonial and postcolonial contexts. In addition to explaining and celebrating what makes the Shahnameh such a distinctive literary work, he also considers the poem in the context of other epics, such as the Aeneid and the Odyssey, and critical debates about the concept of world literature. Arguing that Ferdowsi’s epic and its reception broached this idea long before nineteenth-century Western literary criticism, Dabashi makes a powerful case that we need to rethink the very notion of “world literature” in light of his reading of the Persian epic.

About the Author

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is a founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Among his most recent books are The World of Persian Literary Humanism (2015) and Persophilia: Persian Culture on the Global Scene (2016).

Persian Literature from Outside Iran

Perry, John (ed.). 2018. Persian Literature from Outside Iran: The Indian Subcontinent, Anatolia, Central Asia, and in Judeo-Persian (History of Persian Literature IX). London: I.B. Tauris.

After the fall of the Sassanian Empire and with it the gradual decline of Middle Persian as a literary language, New Persian literature emerged in Transoxiana, beyond the frontiers of present-day Iran, and was written and read in India even before it became firmly established in cities such as Isfahan on the Iranian plateau. Over the course of a millennium (ca. 900-1900 CE), Persian established itself as a contact vernacular and an international literary language from Sarajevo to Madras, with Persian poetry serving as a universal cultural cachet for literati both Muslim and non-Muslim. The role of Persian, beyond its early habitat of Iran and other Islamic lands, has long been recognized: European scholars first came to Persian via Turkey and British orientalists via India. Yet the universal popularity of poets such as Sa’di and Hafez of Shiraz and the ultimate rise of Iran to claim the centre of Persian writing and scholarship led to a relative neglect of the Persianate periphery until recently. This volume contributes to the scholarship of the Persianate fringe with the aid of the abundant material (notably in Tajik, Uzbek and Russian) long neglected by Western scholars and the perspectives of a new generation on this complex and important aspect of Persian literature.

Table of contents

Introduction: Persian Language and Literature Beyond Iran and Islam (J. R. Perry)


  • Chapter 1: Establishment of Centers of Indo-Persian Court Poetry (Alyssa Gabbay)
  • Chapter 2: Teaching Of Persian In South Asia (T. Rahman)
  • Chapter 3: The Persian Language Sciences in India (J. R. Perry)
  • Chapter 4: Persian Historiography in India (B. Auer)
  • Chapter 5: Persian Literature of the Parsis in India (J. K. Choksy)
  • Chapter 6: Ismaili Literature in Persian in Central and South Asia (F. Daftary)
  • Chapter 7: Persian Medical Literature in South Asia (F. Speziale)
  • Chapter 8: Inscriptions and Art-Historical Writing (Y. Porter)


  • Chapter 9: Persian Literature in Anatolia and the Ottoman Realms (S. Kim)
  • Chapter 10: Persian Literature in Central Asia under Uzbek Rule (Ertugrul Ökten)
  • Chapter 11: Tajik Literature (K. Hitchins)
  • Chapter 12: Persian Literature in Modern Afghanistan (R. Farhadi And J. R. Perry)
  • Chapter 13: Judeo-Persian Literature (Vera Basch Moreen)

Rivalry and conflicts between Christians and Zoroastrians

Hutter, Manfred. 2018. Rivalität und Konflikte zwischen Christen und Zoroastriern. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions- und Kulturgeschichte 112. 91–104.

The encounter of Christianity with Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Empire started already in the 3rd century. But it was only since the 5th century that a sizable number of Zoroastrians, mostly from the upper classes, converted to Christianity. This led to reactions by the Zoroastrian clergy against the adherents of the agdēn, the «false» or «bad» religion, as this religion was seen as unfitting to Iranian culture. Thus, Middle Persian texts discuss the necessity to avoid contacts with members of agdēn. This term is not restricted to Christianity, but can also be applied to other religions. It is only from the early Islamic period in Iran that two Middle Persian texts, the Dēnkard and the Škand Gumānīg Wizār, discuss (and refute) Christian teachings more systematically. The reason for this theological discussion about Christianity can be seen in the minority situation which Zoroastrianism faced in the Islamic period.

Hanns-Peter Schmidt (1930-2017) Gedenkschrift

The 6th volume of DABIR is a Gedenkschrift to honour Hanns-Peter Schmidt (1930-2017), an excellent German scholar of Indo-Iranian studies, who mainly worked on the Vedas and the Gāθās, as well as Indian mythology and the Zoroastrian religion.

You can download the whole issue here.


Anti-christological Zoroastrian polemics. Mechanisms of deconstruction (ŠGW 15)

Timuş, Mihaela. 2018. Polémique mazdéenne anti-christologique: Mécanismes de déconstruction (ŠGW 15). Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions- und Kulturgeschichte 112. 105–122.

The present article proposes the analysis of some of the anti-christological arguments to be found at the beginning of the 15th chapter (namely the paragraphs 18–30) of the Zoroastrian polemical treatise Škand Gumānīg Wizār (The Doubt-dispelling Explanation, E. W. West 1887). This treatise was originally written in Middle Persian, but its first version was lost. Nowadays, one works mainly with the reconstruction after the Pāzand (Middle Persian in Avestan characters) version of the text. The article has two parts. On the one hand, the article upholds the hypothesis which states that Zoroastrian anti-christological polemics was done case by case, referring to three groups of Oriental Christians: the Melkites, the Jacobites and the Nestorians respectively. Three main arguments are brought forward. On the other hand, the article provides a description of the logical structure of this polemical attack. It appears that the reasoning follows a syllogism-likpattern, which betrays the influence of Greek logic. It is still a matter of debate whether such influence dates from the Sasanian period and was then passed on to the later Mazdeic exegesis during the first centuries of the Islamic period, or whether it took place after the Arab conquest by the transmission of Muslim theologies and philosophies (eg. the mu’tazilites).

Ancient Chorasmia, Central Asia and the Steppes

Minardi, Michele & Askold I. Ivantchik (eds.). 2018. Ancient Chorasmia, Central Asia and the Steppes (Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 24). Vol. 1–2. Leiden: Brill.

Table of Contents:

  • Claude Rapin: “Aux origines de la cartographie: L’empire achéménide sous Darius I et Xerxès”
  • Frantz Grenet: “Was Zoroastrian Art Invented in Chorasmia?”
  • Michele Minardi: “The Oxus Route toward the South: Persian Legacy and Hellenistic Innovations in Central Asia”
  • Fabrizio Sinisi: “Exchanges in Royal Imagery across the Iranian World, 3rd Century BC – 3rd Century AD: Chorasmia between Arsacid Parthia and Kushan Bactria”
  • Gairatdin Khozhaniyazov: “‘Long Walls’ in Ancient Chorasmia and Central Asia”
  • Alison V.G. Betts, Gairatdin Khozhaniyazov, Alison Weisskopf(†) and George Willcox: “Fire Features at Akchakhan-kala and Tash-k’irman-tepe”
  • Fiona J. Kidd: “Rulership and Sovereignty at Akchakhan-kala in Chorasmia”
  • Pavel B. Lurje: “Some New Readings of Chorasmian Inscriptions on Silver Vessels and Their Relevance to the Chorasmian Era”
  • Gian Luca Bonora: “A General Revision of the Chronology of the Tagisken North Burial Ground”
  • Johanna Lhuillier and Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento: “Central Asia and the Interaction between the Iranian Plateau and the Steppes in Late First Millennium BC: Case Study from Ulug-depe in Turkmenistan”
  • Laurianne Martinez-Sève: “Antique Samarkand or Afrasiab II and III: Differentiation, Chronology and Interpretation”
  • Barbara Kaim: “Storage Practices in the Merv and Serakhs Oases of the Partho-Sasanian Period”
  • Irina Arzhantseva and Svetlana Gorshenina: “The Patrimonial Project of Dzhankent: Constructing a National Symbol in the longue durée”

A Grammar of Pahlavi

Asha, Raham. 2017. Pārsīg Language (The so-called Pahlavi). Parts of Speech, Word Formation, and Phonology. Tehran: Sade Publication.

The present book is, in the first place, a descriptive grammar of the Pārsīg language as far as we have it. It includes morphology and phonology; but it gives no syntax. Whereas the first two parts of the book concern morphology, the last deals with phonology. The book intends to be accessible to those who wish to study the Pārsīg texts as well as those specializing in the study of Perso-Aryan languages.
A forthcoming compendious dictionary will complete this work.