Tag Archives: Zoroastrianism

Calendar as an Identity Marker of the Zoroastrian Community in Iran

Niechciał, Pauline. 2019. Calendar as an Identity Marker of the Zoroastrian Community in Iran. Iran and the Caucasus 23 (1): 35-49.

The article reflects on the idea of both calendric time and its material supports used by the Zoroastrians of Iran in reference to the identity of the group. The qualitative analysis of the data collected during the fieldwork among the Zoroastrian community has shown that a distinctive time-reckoning system plays the role of an important marker that strengthens the community’s Zoroastrian identity in the face of Muslim domination. In the post-Revolutionary Iran, the calendar is one of the key pillars of the Zoroastrians’ collective self-awareness—both as an idea of a specific time-reckoning system designating ritual activities, and as a material subject that acts as a medium to promote specific values and ideas.

Fire in Zoroastrian and Manichaean Apocalyptic

König, Götz. 2019. The Idea of an Apocalyptic Fire According to the Old and Middle Iranian Sources. In Jochen Althoff, Dominik Berrens & Tanja Pommerening (eds.), Finding, Inheriting or Borrowing? The Construction and Transfer of Knowledge in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 313–342. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

A reasonable method through which to approach the reconstruction of religious phenomena in Iran would be to view the phenomena involved from this double perspective involving vertical and horizontal relationships. Defining the perennial and the changing elements, kernels and agglomerations, etc., would surely be helpful in this respect. So too would the drawing up of chronologies related to the history of religious ideas in Iran. The idea of an apocalypse – and this idea is, as we shall see, essentially the idea of the end of the world in fire – is a good example upon which to base a historical analysis located in the aforementioned double bipolar field: Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism; Avesta and late antique religious text.

This article as well as the whole volume are open access, available for free download.

Mithras – Miθra – Mitra

Lahe, Jaan. 2019. Mithras – Miθra – Mitra. Der römische Gott Mithras aus der Perspektive der vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte (Kasion 3). München: Zaphon.

The Roman Mithras cult is one of the so-called “oriental cults” that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Although ancient tradition regards it as a Persian cult, Franz Cumont (the “father of modem Mithraic-study”), and many scholars have been convinced of its Iranian origin. All the information presently available to us opposes this view and suggests that the Roman Mithras cult was not an imported cult from Iran, but a cult that developed within the borders of the Roman Empire and grew there after the end of the first century A.D. It is certain that this cult would not have originated among the Romans if the Iranian god Mithra had been unknown to them. We know that Graeco-Roman authors diseminated infor­mation about the god Mithra. Since the regions of the East, where the deity Mithra was worshiped prior to the Roman Mithraic cult ( especially in Asia Minor), belonged to the Roman Empire, it is very likely that the Romans saw visual representations of this god and thus became familiar with Mithraic iconography.

The author of the present book assumes that the Roman cult of Mithras is not identical with the cult of Mithra/Mithras/Mithres in the Hellenistic East or even in Iranian religion, but must be regarded as an independent cult in the context of Roman religion. At the same time, the author is convinced that an important link existed between the three cults mentioned above. It is not only the name of the god, which goes back to an Indo-Iranian appellative mitra (Neutr.), but also the figure or personality of the god, who in the Roman Empire was called Mithras, in the Hellenistic Orient Mithra or Mithres and in Iran Miθra/Mithra (later Mihr). The author, on the basis of the literary, epigraphic and nunmismatic sources and other representations of the god, compares the personality of “Mithra” ( used here as the summary meta-name for different deities).

Iranian Religions: Zoroastrianism, Yezidis and Bahaism

Hutter, Manfred. 2019. Iranische Religionen: Zoroastrismus, Yezidentum, Bahāʾītum. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Das Studienbuch ist aus Erfahrungen des Unterrichts zu den im Untertitel genannten Religionen erwachsen, wobei der methodische Zugang religionshistorisch (bis zur Gegenwart) und religionsvergleichend ist. Daher werden die drei Religionen der Zoroastrier, Yeziden und Baha’i in einer weitgehend parallelen Struktur beschrieben, um so das gemeinsame “iranische Erbe” sichtbar zu machen, ohne die jeweiligen Eigenheiten der drei Religionen zu nivellieren oder zu harmonisieren. Behandelt werden (bei jeder der drei Religionen) u.a. identitätsstiftende Faktoren für die Religion und die Religion als identitätsmarker, ferner “klassische” Themen zu Welt- und Menschenbild inklusive ethische Herausforderungen sowie das weite Feld der (rituellen) Praxis. Genauso kommen jeweils Organisationsstrukturen sowie die einbettung der Religion in den gesellschaftlichen und religionspolitischen Diskurs im iranischen Raum im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert sowie die Verbreitung im deutschsprachigen Raum seit zwei bis drei Generationen zur Sprache. Kap. 6 geht auch auf die Religionspolitik der Islamischen Republik Iran ein.

An autumn course in Zoroastrianism

Pir-e Sabz, Zoroastrian pilgrimage site in central Iran. Photo: Courtesy of Kaiyan Mistree. Copyright: UiB.

The University of Bergen (Norway) and the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS, University of London, offer this autumn (23–27 September 2019) a short course on Zoroastrianism. This free course takes place in Rome and offers international students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of this religion with its rich history. The course is taught by Sarah Stewart (SOAS) and Michael Stausberg (Bergen) who will be joined by Jenny Rose (Claremont).
Application deadline is 24 Jun 2019.

This year’s topic is “Zoroastrianism in modern and contemporary Iran”, where Zoroastrianism exists as a recognized religious minority. The course will address matters such as lived religious praxis, gender and community organizations, social, religious and ritual change, memory and visions of history, nationalist ideologies and minority rights.

For more information, see this page.

Vol. 52 of “Iranian Studies”

Vol. 52 (2019) of the journal Iranian Studies has now been published. This volume contains issues 1 & 2.

Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Taṣḥīḥ-o tarǧome-ye Sutgar nask va Varšt-mānsar nask az Dēnkard-e 9 va sanǧeš-e in do nask bā matnhā-ye avestāʾi [An Edition and Translation of Sūtkar-Nask and Varštmānsar-Nask from Dēnkard 9 in comparison with the Avestan texts]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

The Middle Persian Dēnkard “Acts of the religion” is a summary of 10th-century Zoroastrian knowledge of religion, considered as the “Mazdean encyclopedia”. It is divided into nine books of which, the first two and the beginning of the third are lost. The Book IX of Dēnkard consists commentaries on the three great Mazdean prayers: Ahunwar, Ašem vohū, and Yeŋ́hē hātąm from the gathic nasks of Sūtkar, Varštmānsar, and Bagnasks. Tafażżolī’s edition comprises the first two nasks, which are of mythical and historical contents.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. This volume is his for the first time postmortemously published doctoral thesis in ancient Iranian languages, defended on 1965 under the direction of Ṣādeq Kiā at the Tehran University. Furthermore he left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are also recently publihsed in The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli.



The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Maqālāt-e Aḥmad Tafażżolī [The collected writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Toos Publications.

The collection includes Aḥmad Tafażżolī’s published Persian scholorly articles on various subjects of ancient and middle Iranian studies, Iranian philology as well as Zoroastrian studies in two sections and 472 pages. The first sections comprises 55 articles and the second section is devoted to his reviews and contains 19 reviews and critical seurvays, edited by Zhaleh Amuzgar.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. His doctoral dissertation on Dēnkard IX is published recently posthumously. He left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are gathered and edited in this volume.

The table of contents of this volume can be seen here.

The Cult of the “Eternal” Fire in the Rituals in Avesta

Cantera, Alberto. 2019. Fire, the greatest god (ātarš … mazišta yazata). The cult of the “eternal” fire in the rituals in Avestan. Indo-Iranian Journal 62(1), 19–61.

The following paper is concerned with a comparison between the Vedic hymn RV VII 55 and the Vīdēvdād chapter XVIII 16. It is argued that little lullaby-themes, aimed at quieting men as well as animals, have come to be included into sacral and religious texts from popular sources (e.g. magical charms to be performed on sleepless babies), revealing Proto-Indo-European formulae and stylistic patterns that can be reconstructed. A Hittite text and some fragments of Greek poems by Simonides and Alcman are also included in the list of the passages to be compared.

STUDIA IRANICA 47(1)

The first issue of Studia Iranica 47 (2018) has been published. For a table of contents and access to individual articles, see below or visit this page.