Tag Archives: History of Zoroastrianism

Iconographic Exegesis of Anthropomorphic Zoroastrian Deities

Farridnejad, Shervin. 2018. Die Sprache der Bilder: Eine Studie zur ikonographischen Exegese der anthropomorphen Götterbilder im Zoroastrismus (Iranica 27). Harrassowitz-verlag.

Einer in der Forschung weit verbreiteten Meinung zufolge existierte im Alten Iran keine zoroastrische Kunst. In Sprache der Bilder nun untersucht Shervin Farridnejad Darstellungen altiranischer anthropomorpher Gottheiten und deren Erscheinung im zoroastrischen Pantheon mit der methodischen Herangehensweise einer exegetischen Ikonographie.
Farridnejad zeichnet die Darstellungsweise und Entwicklung der zoroastrischen Götterbilder nach und analysiert den Ursprung ihrer Ikonographie innerhalb der iranischen religiösen Bildsprache, insbesondere im Wechselspiel mit den in der schriftlich überlieferten Tradition bewahrten religiösen Ideen. Der Autor widmet sich in seiner umfassenden und reich bebilderten Studie den teilweise komplex aufgebauten Götterbildern, die als vielschichtige Bedeutungsträger im religiösen Leben der alten Zoroastrier eine große Rolle spielten. Darüber hinaus ermittelt er allgemeine formale Strukturen, beleuchtet ihre Genese und erforscht den „Sitz im Leben“ der Götterbilder, indem er vor allem die literarische Überlieferung des zoroastrischen Corpus im Avestischen und Mittelpersischen berücksichtigt. Farridnejad bietet so erstmals einen umfassenden, methodisch fundierten Überblick über die zoroastrische Bildersprache im Kontext von Religion und Kultur des vorislamischen Iran.

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.

Cosmic, cultic and social spaces in Early Zoroastrianism

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2017. Raumkonzeptionen im früheren Zoroastrismus. Kosmische, kultische und soziale Räume (Iranica, GOF III/NF 14). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Space, like time, is one of the basic categories of our thinking. Their concepts do not remain constant in different cultures or in changing periods, which is why dealing with a historical cultural phenomenon always requires a review of these categories in their specific culture and time. Based on the oldest linguistic and architectural evidence of Iran from the 12th to the 4th century BC, for the first time Kianoosh Rezania offers a comprehensive study of space concepts in Zoroastrianism in ancient Iran.
Based on current and historical theories of space, the Zoroastrian spaces are divided into cosmic, cultic and social spaces. The depiction of the cosmic spaces describes spatial abstractions in ancient Iranian languages as well as Zoroastrian boundary principles. Rezania examines the coordinate systems that ancient Iranians used for orientation in space and how they transformed their cognitive maps into text. This also includes the portrayal of the Zoroastrian worldview according to their older texts. At the intersection of cosmic and cultural spaces, there are transcendent spaces that contain, on the one hand, utopian spaces for communication with gods, some of which are written by poets. Since the study does not rule out dynamics and change processes in the ritual domain, reconstructions of Zoroastrian ritual surfaces in the Avestan period are presented without the inclusion of recent materials. In addition, the spatially represented social structure of the Avestan society and their spatial symbolic orders are presented.
For the table of contents of this volume visit here.

Dadabhai Naoroji and Orientalist scholarship on Zoroastrianism

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)
NPG x128698, Dadabhai Naoroji

Patel, Dinyar. 2017. Our own religion in ancient Persia: Dadabhai Naoroji and Orientalist scholarship on Zoroastrianism. Global Intellectual History. 1–18.

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825–1917) is today best known as an economic thinker and an early leader in the Indian nationalist movement. Between the 1860s and 1890s, however, he was also recognized as a scholar of Zoroastrianism, sharing his ideas on Parsi religious reform and ‘authentic’ Zoroastrian belief and practice. Aside from corresponding with some of the leading European Orientalists of his day, Naoroji authored papers on Parsi religious belief and religious reform that were widely distributed and cited in Europe and North America. Over time, he began to function as an interlocutor between European Orientalists and the Parsis in India, disseminating European scholarship amongst his co-religionists while also facilitating scholars’ patronage of the wealthy Parsi community. Naoroji’s correspondence with the Oxford philologist Lawrence H. Mills, in particular, demonstrates this dynamic at work. These activities point to the oftentimes complex and collaborative relationships that existed between non-Europeans and European Orientalists, illustrating the degree to which European scholars could be dependent on the intellectual, financial, and logistical assistance of their objects of study.
Dinyar Patel is a scholar of Modern Indian history and the Indian nationalist movement at the Department of History, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism

8th cent. Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian © Museum of Oriental Art (Turin)

Kiel, Yishai & Prods Oktor Skjærvø. 2017. Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism. Journal of the American Oriental Society 137(2). 221–243.

The Middle Persian (Pahlavi) literature from the early Islamic centuries frequently deals with practical theological issues faced by the Zoroastrian communities under foreign domination. Here, we present a number of questions regarding a Zoroas- trian’s conversion to Islam and his subsequent repentance and desire to return to Zoroastrianism and answers given by ninth- and tenth-century Zoroastrian priestly authorities. It is shown how the priests cite ancient traditions found in the Pahlavi versions of Avestan texts to justify their answers, and then apply them to the contemporary social reality.

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

Ritual and Ritual Tradition in Zoroastrianism

“Homo Ritualis: Ritual and Ritual Tradition in Zoroastrianism”

A talk by Shervin Farridnejad (Berlin/Vienna).

Monday, 23 January 2016, 06:30 PM, Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall Dominikanerbastei 6/6, 1010 Wien.

This talk is the third and last of a talk series “Kulturwissenschaftliche Iranforschung“,  organized as joint events by the Institute of Iranian studies (IFI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Österreichischen Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Vienna. The talk will be in German.

Abstract

Rituals play a prominent role in Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest continuous religions of humanity. The importance and practice of the Zoroastrian rituals extend over a wide range of social and local environments, from houses to fire temples as well as from antiquity to modernity. While the sources for exploring Zoroastrian rituals in pre-modern times are predominantly confined to traditional and priestly texts, we have a broader set of sources for modern and contemporary times, including the living ritual tradition of priests and laities. The lecture deals with the presence and importance of the rituals as well as the ritualistic traditions in Zoroastrianism.

You can download the whole program of this talk series here.

Shervin Farridnejad is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute of Iranian Studies (IFI) at the Academy of Science (ÖAW) in Vienna and at the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Achaemenian Palaces and the Zoroastrian Ritual Surfaces

Cylinder seal impression from Daskyleion with royal audience scene, inscribed “Artaxerxes.” Drawing by B. Mussche of Daskyleion inv. no. Erg. 55. After AMI 22, 1989, p. 147, fig. 1 © Encyclopædia Iranica Online

The Old Iranian Absolute Frame of Reference.
To the Orientation of Achaemenian Palaces and the Zoroastrian Ritual Surfaces“.

A talk by Kianoosh Rezania (Bochum).

Monday, 9 January 2016, 06:30 PM, Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall Dominikanerbastei 6/6, 1010 Wien.

This talk is the first of a talk series “Kulturwissenschaftliche Iranforschung“,  organized as joint events by the Institute of Iranian studies (IFI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Österreichischen Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Vienna.

Abstract

For the orientation in space and the linguistic expression of spatial relations of objects, different coordination systems can be used. One of these systems utilizes fixed cardinal directions. The four compass points north, south, east and west constitute the cardinal directions of our absolute frame of reference. Did the Old Iranians employ the same frame of reference likewise with these compass points?
After the representation of different coordination systems, absolute, intrinsic and relative, the paper addresses the Old Iranian absolute frame of reference. By means of the orientation of Achaemenian palaces, the order of countries in the Old Persian list of nations as well as Avestan linguistic evidence, it will be demonstrated that the Old Iranian people did not used our todays compass points for their orientation in space, but employed a different absolute frame of reference. The paper will present the cardinal directions of this system.

You can download the whole program of this talk series here.

Kianoosh Rezania is a professor of Western Asian Religious Studies at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Zoroastrianism: Religious texts, theology, history and culture

moazoroasMoazami, Mahnaz (ed.). 2016. Zoroastrianism: A collection of articles from the Encyclopaedia Iranica  (Encyclopaedia Iranica Extracts – EIE), 2 vols. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation.
 Zoroastrian theology, cosmology and cosmogony, history of the faith, its rituals and ceremonies, Avestan and Middle Persian texts, festivals such as Nowruz, Mehregan and Sada, and a host of other topics, hitherto dispersed amidst other entries in their alphabetical sequence in the Encyclopædia Iranica, are gathered together here under one cover. The volume enables the readers to chart their way through complex traditions and debates throughout history, and brings into focus the interdependence of these pioneering contributions. As a thought-provoking and authoritative work of reference, it is a testimony to the fine scholarship and remarkable erudition of its contributors, scholars who have been foremost in ensuring that the Encyclopædia Iranica maintains its high reputation for authoritative comprehensiveness and pioneering research.
List of Contents:

Volume 1

  • Religious Concepts and Philosophy
  • Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism
  • The Elements in Zoroastrianism
  • The Divine Beings (Yazatas)
  • Demons, Fiends, and Witches
  • Zoroastrian Literature
  • Sacrifices and Offerings

Volume 2

  • Ablutions and Purification Ceremonies
  • Prayers, Hymns, and Incantations
  • Priestly Titles and Prominent Zoroastrian Priests
  • Legal Aspects of Zoroastrianism
  • Death and the Afterlife
  • Festivals
  • Places of Worship
  • Zoroastrian Heroes and Adversaries
  • Mythical and Historical Locations
  • Parsi Communities

About the Editor:

Mahnaz Moazami is a Visiting Professor at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University. Her research focuses on religion in pre-Islamic Iran, and she has published several articles on different aspects of Zoroastrianism.

Christian-Zoroastrian Dialogue in the Sasanian Period

g13070-9Rezania, Kianoosh. 2015. Einige Anmerkungen zur sasanidisch-zoroastrischen Religionspraxis im Spiegel der interreligiösen Dialoge der Christen und Zoroastrier. In Claudia Rammelt, Cornelia Schlarb & Egbert Schlarb (eds.), Begegnungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Beiträge dialogischer Existenz ; eine freundschaftliche Festgabe zum 60. Geburtstag von Martin Tamcke, 172–80. Berlin; Münster: LIT Verlag.

The primary sources for Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Period (3rd-7th. CE) are limited to a few inscriptions, coins and a few Zoroastrian Middle Persian works,  which can be dated with some certainty to this time. The majority of the Zoroastrian Middle Persian texts were written or compiled in the early Islamic period and need to be placed in the religious context of the 9th and 10th centuries. In addition to the primary Zoroastrian sources, however, there are couple of Christian works, which comprise valuable information relatied to the Middle Iranian languages, the Sasanian administration and not least the Zoroastrian theology and religious practice. Most of the literatures, datable to the Sasanian Zoroastrianism are intelectual productions of an inter-religious context. They contain reports of dialogues between Christians and Zoroastrians or represent imaginary dialogues between those religious groups. This paper aims to explore some little known Zoroastrian practices as depicted in such interfaith dialogues.

About the Author:
Kianoosh Rezania is a scholar of Zoroastrianism, Ancient Iranian Studies and the history of religions. He is a visiting research fellow of the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.