Tag Archives: Literature

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.

Collected Writings of Dastur Firoze M. Kotwal

Kotwal, Firoze M. 2018. The collected scholarly writings of Dastur Firoze M. Kotwal. Edited by Firoza Punthakey Mistree & Cashmira Vatcha Bengalli. Vol. 1. Mumbai: Parzor Foundation.
For over a thousand years, Zoroastrian priests in India have sustained their belief system and the ritual infrastructure of their faith, by the constant enactment of rituals with exactitude in their religious life.
It is this exactness of practice that High Priest Dastur (Dr.) Firoze M. Kotwal has strived throughout his life to support through his writings. His knowledge of priestly history and of ritual practice is unparallel. His historical insights take one to the core of a tradition well kept and sometimes hidden from even its community members.
His familiarity with Avestan, Pahlavi and old Gujarati, has enabled an understanding of the classical theology and the practices of the faith. His work has helped to sustain the relevance of the ritual tradition in modern times, and his essays illustrate patterns of differences in priestly expressions in rituals, among the priesthood in India. In doing so, he has not shied away from explaining the changes which have taken place and the influence of those who determined these changes.
His work has been published in academic journals, and he is sought after internationally, by scholars wanting to understand the traditions and comprehend the ancient manuscripts of the faith.
ervad Firoze M. Kotwal, after his initiation as a Zoroastrian Priest

The biographical note in the volume covers his life as a pious priest and reveals his early childhood, immersed in the warmth of priestly life in Navsari. His rise as a learned high priest, his position in the world of academia and the value his guidance and directives have brought to disputes and controversies that have mired the community over the last forty years, form part of the biography. As one of the foremost Bhagaria priest in Mumbai, his declarations on issues that matter within the community, have shaped decision making and have illumined the core of what the Parsis consider sacred and inviolable.

For priests, lay-people and academics, this volume provides a resource for the future study of the faith. Its exploration both in time span and in its detail reveals the choices that lie ahead for the community, which Zarathushtra so pertinently articulated in the Gathas, three thousand five hundred years ago – the clear choice which is to be made between good and evil and between the better and the best.
List of Contents of Vol. 1:
  • Zoroastrian Bāj and Drōn-I, co-author Mary Boyce
  • Zoroastrian Bāj and Drōn-II, co-author Mary Boyce
  • Some Notes on the Parsi Bāj of Mihragān, co-author James W. Boyd
  • The Zoroastrian Paragnā Ritual, co-author James W. Boyd
  • To Praise the Souls of the Deceased and the Immortal Spirits of the Righteous Ones: The Staomi or Stūm Ritual’s History and Functions, co-author Jamsheed K. Choksy
  • A Link with the Spiritual World: The Stum Ritual
  • The Jashan and its Main Religious Service: The Āfrīnagān
  • The Zoroastrian Nirangdin Ritual and an Old Pahlavi Text with Transcription and Translation
  • Initiation into the Zoroastrian Priesthood: Present Parsi Practice and An Old Pahlavi Text
  • The Parsi Dakhma : Its History and Consecration
  • Two Ritual Terms in Pahlavi: The datuš and the frāgām
  • Some Notes on the Pahlavi Visperad
  • Select Ritual Aspects of the Gāthās and their Continuity in the Later Tradition
  • Prayer, co-author Philip G. Kreyenbroek
  • Continuity, Controversy and Change: A Study of the Ritual Practice of the Bhagariā Priests of Navsari
  • The Divine and Exalted Status of the Consecrated Fire in Zoroastrianism
  • An Ancient Irani Ritual for tending Fire
  • Gãthũ Bhārvānī Kriyā: The Ritual of Preserving a Burning Knotted Billet below the Fire-Ash
  • The Ritual of Shifting the Sacred  tash Bahrām Fire from the Qibla to its Temporary Qibla

The Qalandar in the Persianate World

Portrait of a Qalandar wearing a primitive fur. Inscription in Persian. First quarter of the 17th century, Deccan. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Dahlén, Ashk P. 2018. The Qalandar in the Persianate world: The case of Fakhrod-din ʿAraqi. In Albrecht Berger & Sergey Ivanov (eds.), Holy fools and divine madmen: Sacred insanity through ages and cultures (Münchener Arbeiten zur Byzantinstik 2), 125–153. Neuried: Ars Una.

The mystical poetry of Fakhrod-din ʿAraqi (d. 1289) has been considered to be unparalleled and he has been celebrated as the most eloquent spokesman of divine love in the history of Persian literature. His literary production is above all distinguished by the depth and audacity of its unbridled esoteric speculations and the intensity and brilliant color of its religious expression. The aim the present article is to examine the Qalandari phenomenon, its spiritual doctrine and practice, in the context of medieval Persia with specific reference to ‛Araqi’s lyrical poetry.

On the evidence of his biography and religious teachings, there can be no doubt about the importance of the Qalandari doctrine for ‛Araqi himself. Reliable information concerning his life reveals that he considered social respect as one of the most dangerous pitfalls on the spiritual path. The quintessence of his notion of piety is man’s absolute nothingness before God and ultimate annihilation in the divine attributes. ‛Araqi’s criticism of conventional piety and excuse of scandalous behavior constitute the central tenet of antinomian Qalandari mysticism: outwardly he behaved in a foolish manner according to the conventional standards of society, but inwardly he pursued a religious ideal, inspired by experience of God’s beauty and majesty. In fact, he is probably the most outspoken poet of the qalandariyāt genre and his poetry is traversed through and through by its paradoxes. Marked by a unique blend of antinomian thematic features and a rich symbolic imagery, his poems preserve a subtle harmony between the possibilities of transcendental and profane allusions. In this respect, he became a perfect model for Persian literature, influencing Hāfez and Sa‛di, undisputed masters of the ghazal, and inspiring many other writers of the following centuries.

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.

A manual for Iranian Studies (Handbuch der Iranistik, Vol. 2)

Paul, Ludwig (ed.). 2017. Handbuch der Iranistik. Vol. 2. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
The second volume of the Handbook of Iranian Studies  follows the concept of the first volume and develops it further. It follows the division of the first volume (for the first Volume see here) into eight discipline-defined sections and completes the research overview of the first volume in a comprehensive way with about 50 articles. Thus, in the second part, the few gaps of the first volume are closed in eight sections, and the “Iranian Philosophy and Sciences” are added in a ninth section. The view is also directed increasingly at the geographical periphery of the Iranian world. Several articles deal with the history, culture and present of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kurdistan and other regions. The second volume of the handbook of Iranian Studies, in addition to the first volume, also provides research reports. In the second volume, specialized research reports on certain areas are added in the second volume, such as “Persian Literature”: Contributions to Iranian exile and travel literature, current innovative topics such as gender, bio-ethics, the Internet and new media.
You can see the table of the contents of this volume here.
About the Editor:
Ludwig Paul is professor of Iranian Studies at the Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg. He is a scholar of Iranian Linguistic, dialektology as well as Iranian modern history.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes

Nawotka, Krzysztof. 2017. The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes. Leiden: Brill.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes of Krzysztof Nawotka is a guide to a third century AD fictional biography of Alexander the Great, the anonymous Historia Alexandri Magni. It is a historical commentary which identifies all names and places in this piece of Greek literature approached as a source for the history of Alexander the Great, from kings, like Nectanebo II of Egypt and Darius III of Persia, to fictional characters. It discusses real and imaginary geography of the Alexander Romance. While dealing with all aspects of Ps.-Callisthenes relevant to Greek history and to Macedonia, its pays particular attention to aspects of ancient history and culture of Babylonia and Egypt and to the multi-layered foundation story of Alexandria.

Krzysztof Nawotka, Ph.D. (1991), The Ohio State University, is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Wrocław, Poland. He has published on Greek history, including The Western Pontic Cities: History and Political Organization (1997), Alexander the Great (2010), Boule and Demos in Miletus and its Pontic Colonies (2014).

The Large Farāmarznāme

van Zutphen, Marjolijn. 2017. A Story of Conquest and Adventure: The Large Farāmarznāme. Leiden: Brill.

 

The Large Farāmarznāme (Farāmarznāme-ye bozorg), a poem from the Persian epic cycle dated to the late eleventh century, is hereby published for the first time in an English translation, in prose. The story tells how Farāmarz, a son of the famous Shāhnāme hero Rostam, conquers several provinces of India, before setting off on an extensive voyage over sea and land, leading his troops through a number of hazardous situations in various fictional countries. As a true epic hero, he displays his prowess in battle and in single combat against men, demons and various ferocious animals, in addition to experiencing a number of marvelous and romantic adventures.

Marjolijn van Zutphen obtained her PhD in 2011 at Leiden University with a dissertation on the Persian epic cycle, a series of poems that were composed in emulation of Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāme. In a joint cooperation with Abolfazl Khatibi she has produced the first critical edition of Farāmarznāme-ye bozorg.

Medicine in the Avesta

Delaini, Paolo. 2017. La medicina nell’Avesta. Widēwdād 7, 20, 21, 22. Studio filologico, traduzione e commento dei testi avestici e medio-persiani. Con un saggio sugli studi sulla medicina zoroastriana dal Settecento ad oggi. I. I Pahlavi Widēwdād 7.1 – 7.44. Sesto San Giovanni: Mimesis.

The present volume offers a philological study of various passages from the Wīdēwdād pertaining to medicine.

Abou the Author
Paul Delaini, is an scholar of Iranian studies at the University of Bologna, Ravenna. His research deals mainly with the history of pre-Islamic medicine in Iran, with particular emphasis on the development and circulation of medical knowledge on the body and the physiology of birth evolved from the ancient world on the late ancient and medieval tradition.

Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia

Matteo de Chiara & Evelin Grassi (eds.). 2015. Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia: From the eighteenth century to the present (Studia Iranica. Cahier 57). Paris.

The Table of Contents is here.

Compared with numerous critical studies in Central Asian history, politics and society published during recent years, modern languages and literary traditions of Central Asia have received less scholarly attention in the West. If we consider specifically the Iranian world, especially in the modern period, it must be admitted that the linguistics and literature of Central Asia, compared to the linguistics and literature of Iran, remain in need of more investigation.
This collection sheds light on various issues of the Iranian linguistic and literary arena “outside of Iran”, offering a variety of twelve original contributions by both leading scholars and new names in the international academic setting. The regions of Afghanistan, Badakhshan, and Transoxania, important centers of Iranian languages and literatures, are here brought back into their broader Iranian context, for the benefit of modern Iranian studies.

Greek Echos in Pahlavi Literature

Agostini, Domenico . 2016. Greek echoes in Pahlavi literature. A preliminary survey of calques and foreign terms. Linguarum Varietas 5. 13–24.

The vast majority of the extant Pahlavi literature was written or compiled during the Islamic period (mainly during the 9th-10th centuries) and deals with religious themes of theological and scholastic interest. Only a few examples of Sasanian imaginative, scientific and philosophical works have survived, despite the rich testimony towards their existence found in Syriac, Arabic, and Persian sources, as well as references in some Pahlavi texts. In particular, some of them teach us that Greek philosophical systems, astrology, astronomy and medicine penetrated Iranian thought already in the Sasanian period. These new ideas were necessarily reworked as they entered Zoroastrian writings. It is not always easy to
pinpoint when and where certain aspects of the Pahlavi literature rely on Greek culture, although it is quite clear that the latter had a heavy influence on the formation of Iranian, and especially Zoroastrian, thinking in Sasanian period. This article aims to present some evidence of the presence of Greek thought and lexicon in the Pahlavi literature through the textual analysis of some passages belonging to the Zoroastrian literary tradition.