Tag Archives: Zoroastrianism

Reverence for Water Among the Zoroastrians

The Yasna ceremony of consecration. Parzor Archives

Cama, Shernaz. 2019. Ava: A living tradition of reverence for water among the Zoroastrians. In Sara Keller (ed.), Knowledge and the Indian Ocean. Intangible networks of Western India and beyond, 65–85. Cham: Springer Verlag.

Asia, particularly India, needs water conservation today in every form, to support an ever-growing population and its thirst for water, may it be for drinking, for agricultural purpose or other types of development and improvement in standards of living. The area surrounding Gujarat has always supported valuable contributions, across land and ocean in varied fields. It has also supported across history, positive migrations both for trade and for shelter. The Zoroastrian refugees brought their cultural and religious concern for water to the western coast of India, contributing to a multicultural ethos, which took the best from every part and absorbed it into a new living culture. The tanka system, an offshoot of the Iranian karez contributed in the past, and continues to contribute today. Such multicultural sharing of oral traditions of an ancient society can therefore bring new perspectives and hopefully participate to the ecological understanding and the careful use of water resources in the future, not only in Gujarat but across India.

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 Sinicization of Indo-Iranian Astrology in Medieval China

Kotyk, Jeffrey. 2018. The sinicization of Indo-Iranian astrology in medieval China (Sino-Platonic Papers 282). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

This study explores the introduction and development of foreign systems of astrology in medieval China (Tang to Ming periods), in particular the practice of horoscopy, and how such models were implemented within a Chinese astronomical framework. It is argued that the basic character of such horoscopy was in large part Dorothean, rather than Ptolemaic. It is furthermore demonstrated that Chinese horoscopy was as much an heir to Persian systems of horoscopy as was the Islamicate, a point that has yet to be recognized. The paper also demonstrates the enduring impact of horoscopy within the culture of Chinese divination.

Zoroastrian and Ancient Iranian Astral Science

Brown, David. 2018. The Interactions of Ancient Astral Science. with contributions by : Jonathon Ben-Dov, Harry Falk, Geoffrey Lloyd, Raymond Mercier, Antonio Panaino, Joachim Quack, Alexandra von Lieven, and Michio Yano. Bremen: Hempen Verlag.

Why and when did ancient scholars make the enormous effort to understand the principles and master the mathematics of foreign astral sciences? This work provides a detailed analysis of the invention, development and transmission of astronomy, astrology, astral religion, magic and medicine, cosmology and cosmography, astral mapping, geography and calendrics and their related mathematics and instrumentation in and between Mesopotamia, Egypt, the West Semitic areas, Greece and Rome, Iran, India and China. It considers the available textual evidence from the most ancient times to the seventh century CE. The author has worked the contributions of eight internationally renowned scholars into what amounts to a new history of the oldest sciences. The result is a challenging read for the layperson and a resource for the expert and includes an extensive index to the entire volume. It provides a new typology of cultural interactions and, by describing their socio-political backdrop, offers a cultural history of the region. In particular, astral science in the Hellenistic period west of the Tigris is completely re-evaluated and a new model of the interactions of Western and Indian and Iranian astral sciences is provided.
Two chapters of this book deal with different aspects of Ancient Iranian Astrology and Astronomy. The chapter Iranian Astral Science (P. 456-481) by the main autor himself, which refers to the following subjects:
  • The Elamites
  • The Persians
    • Persian Astral Science (other than the Calendar)
  • The Seleucids
  • Seleucid-Iranian Astral Science
  • The Parthians
    • Parthian Astral Science
    • The Sasanians
And the next chapter:
Panaino, Antonio. 2018. On Iran’s Role in the Transmission of Ancient Astral Science and the Ramifications thereof. Pp. 482–514.
This chapter discusses following subjects:
  • The Problem
  • The Iranian astral divinities and their astronomical role
  • The Stars and the Peg of the Sky
  • The Planets and the Astral Cords of Wind
  • The multicultural legacy of Sasanian astronomy and astrology

Zoroastrian and Iranian Studies from Ravenna

Panaino, Antonio, Andrea Piras & Paolo Ognibene (eds.). 2018. Studi iranici ravennati II (Indo-Iranica et Orientalia). Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.
This Conference Proceedings volume contains 15  contributions which were presented at the second international conference of Iranian Studies in Ravenna, Italy.
Table of Contents:
  • Amir Ahmadi: “An Indo-Iranian Initiation-Based Masculine Society?
  • Fabio Eugenio Betti: “Tradizione classica e cultura sudarabica. Osservazioni sulla statua bronzea di Lady Bar’at”
  • Stefano Buscherini: “Chess and geometric progressions: a link between Dante and the Persian tradition”
  • Davlatkhoja Dovudi: “Nachodki bucharchudatskich, sasanidskich i omejjadskich monet v Tadžikistane i istorija ich izučenija”
  • Anna Michieletto: “La comunità diasporica curda del Monte Amiata: rapporto con le origini e col territorio”
  • Paolo Ognibene: “Studi sull’epos dei Narti. Il ruolo dell’elemento magico nella struttura fantastica del racconto”
  • Martina Palladino: “Alcuni spunti di riflessione sui Maga Brāhmana”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Vecchie e Nuove Considerazioni sul Millenarismo iranico-mesopotamico ed il Chiliasmo giudaico-cristiano”
  • Andrea Piras: “Spandyād’s lance and message. Some Remarks about the Imagery of Shooting Weapons”
  • Céline Redard: “La tentation de Zarathuštra”
  • Micol Scrignoli: “duruj-, drauga-, draujana-: dallo studio delle valenze semantiche attestate all’individuazione della triade iranica nella lingua antico persiana”
  • Galina N. Vol’naja: “K voprosu ob iranskich vlijanijach na Central’nom i Severo-Vostočnom Kavkaze (na primere bronzovych pticevidnych prjažek «tipa Isti-Su»)
  • Antonio Panaino: “The Souls of women in the Zoroastrian Afterlife”
  • Paolo Delaini: “Conoscenze mediche sulla fisiologia della gravidanza nel mondo iranico di età tardoantica”
  • Andrea Gariboldi: “La dottrina di Mazdak tra influssi “occidentali” e religioni orientali

Sasanian Iran in the context of Late Anitquity

Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). 2018. Sasanian Iran in the context of Late Anitquity: The Bahari lecture series at the Oxford University (Ancient Iran Series VI). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
The essays in this volume discuss various aspects of the Sasanian Empire, presented on the occasion of the inauguration of the Bahari Chair in Sasanian Studies at Oxford University in 2014.
  • Michael Alram: “The Numismatic Legacy of the Sasanians in the East”
  • Matthew P. Canepa and Johnathan W. Hardy: “Persian Palace Architecture, Garden Design and Digital Archaeology”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “The Tripartite Sasanian Vision of the World”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Books without Ritual – Ritual without Books”
  • Giusto Traina: “The Rise of the Sasanians”
  • Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina: “A Father, a Daughter, and a Son-in-Law in Zoroastrian Hermeneutics”
  • Arash Zeini: “The King in the Mirror of the Zand

A Zoroastrian Funerary Building of Ancient Chorasmia

Minardi, Michele & Shamil Amirov. 2017. The Zoroastrian Funerary Building of Angka. Topoi 21. 11–49.
This paper presents the results of the 2016 field campaign of the Angka-kala Archaeological Expedition (AGKE) at Angka Malaya (“Small Angka”), a particular site of which the original function is here assumed to have been of funerary nature. The ruins of Angka Malaya (27 km north of the modern city of Turktul) stand close by the larger stronghold of Angka-kala in today’s Republic of Karakalpakstan (northern Uzbekistan), a territory once part of the antique Iranian polity of Ancient Chorasmia.

Zoroastrian Mythology: Cows and Bulls in Ancient Iran

Pirart, Eric. 2018. Mythologie zoroastrienne: vaches et taureaux en Iran. Paris: Editions L’Harmattan.
Éric Pirart rassemble ici les données de l’eschatologie générale mazdéenne. La rigueur philologique et la mythologie comparée sont les deux outils mis en oeuvre dans l’approche de la tradition zoroastrienne qui est fragmentaire. L’examen des mythes grecs qui mettent en scène un taureau fournit-il ainsi quelques clés dans l’interprétation de textes iraniens singulièrement lapidaires. Vaches et taureaux, chez les peuples conducteurs de troupeaux, étaient au centre de l’imaginaire et de la métaphysique.

Falcons and falconry in pre-modern Persia

Falcon with spread wings. Square tile from Persepolis.

Daryaee, Touraj & Soodabeh Malekzadeh. 2018. Falcons and falconry in pre-modern Persia, in Karl-Heinz Gersmann & Oliver Grimm (eds.), Raptor and human: falconry and bird symbolism throughout the millennia on a global scale, 243-258, Wachholtz Verlag.

Falcons and falconry have been part of the religious and ideological tradition of the Persianate world from remote antiquity to the pre-modern period. The falcon has been important as a symbol of royal ideology and political legitimation. Already from the earliest Zoroastrian hymns, the Avesta, to manuals on falconry in the nineteenth century, the importance of this bird and the sport is detailed. The earliest evidence of falconry in Persia dates back to the Sasanian era (3rd c. CE). In this article, the association of this sport with the nobility in both pre-Islamic and Islamic literature, art, and history is made clear.

Studies on the History of Rationality in Ancient Iran

König, Götz. 2018. Studien zur Rationalitätsgeschichte im älteren Iran. Ein Beitrag zur Achsenzeitdiskussion (Iranica 26). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Although the idea of ​​a Euro-Asiatic Axial Age can be traced back to the pioneer Iranian philologist Anquetil Duperron, ancient Iran plays in the 20th-century axle-time theory founded by Karl Jaspers, which revolves around the comprehension and explanation of ‘rationality’ usually only a minor role.
In his investigations of the ancient Iranian history of rationality, Götz König firtsly points out which theory-immanent factors in Jaspers’ basic text On the Origin and Aim of History (1949) may have favored this forgetting. Sample analyzes show how, through minimal changes in the ritual, a change in the constellation of mental faculties, or the replacement of a metaphysical concept with a legal concept of order, ways (in the ancient East as well as then in Western Iran) are opened up Align center categories. A concluding study of the dialectics of the Axial Age shows how the period of the Achaemenids (6th-4th century BC) may in various ways be regarded as the actual Axis time of Iran, but ultimately fails to meet its own rational standards and wrong.
See the table of contents and the introduction of the volume here.
Table of Contents
  • Zur Einleitung
  • Besichtigung der Jaspers’schen Elemente einer Theorie der Achsenzeit
  • Die minime Abweichung Zu einer indo-iranischen Ritualdifferenz und ihren Folgen
  • Daēnā, Xratu und das Moment des Schauens Wissenserwerb im älteren und mittleren Zoroastrismus
  • Gefügtes – Gesetztes. Überlegungen zur Genese von Darius’ manā dāta– „mein Gesetz“
  • Die Dialektik der Achsenzeit Von der Objektwerdung des Subjektes im achämenidischen Iran