Tag Archives: Zoroastrianism

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

Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam

Sadeghi, Fatemeh. 2018. Sin of the woman. Interrelations of religious judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen 336). Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.

Since the 1920s, the so-called »return to the roots«, has become a hege­monic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propa­gated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran repre­sen­ting them­selves as the true inhe­ri­tors of those monar­chies, the Isla­mists adopted a respec­tive approach in regard to Islam.
As a result, a similar fairy­tale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study.
By delving into the past, it ques­tions the wide­s­p­read nost­algic notions cons­i­de­ring the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restric­tions »imposed by Islam«. In point of fact such past is a fabri­ca­tion. In the majo­rity of cases, there­fore, the revival projects invent tradi­tions to legiti­mize current political agendas.

Continue reading Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam

Reinventing Mosaic Torah in the Light of the Law of Ahura Mazdā and Zarathustra

Leningrad Codex text sample, portions of Exodus 15:21-16:3

Kiel, Yishai. 2017. Reinventing Mosaic Torah in Ezra-Nehemiah in the light of the law (dāta) of Ahura Mazda and Zarathustra. Journal of Biblical Literature 136(2). 323–345.

In this study I examine the linguistic and theological contours of the term (tôrâ) in Ezra-Nehemiah—particularly the identification of with the law () of God promulgated by Ezra (Ezra 7:14)—through the lens of Old Persian and Avestan notions of “the law set down (dāta)” by Ahura Mazda and revealed through Zarathustra. While the basic notion of divine revelation of laws through the mediation of Moses emerges already in preexilic biblical texts, I posit that the innovative link drawn by the authors of Ezra-Nehemiah between the Old Persian and Avestan term dāta (via Aramaic ) and the Hebrew reflects a broader and more comprehensive impact of Avestan traditions, mediated by Achaemenid ideology, on the construction and conceptualization of Mosaic in Ezra-Nehemiah. Weighing in on the ongoing debate over the range of imperial authorization of local legislation and cult in Judea, Egypt, and Asia Minor, I argue that the Achaemenids, who were probably involved in certain aspects of the codification and canonization of textual, legal, and theological manifestations of Zoroastrianism, functioned as agents (whether actively or passively) in facilitating and reinforcing the adaptation by the Babylonian-Judean scribes of Avestan notions of divine revelation of the law and scriptural unity linked to personal authority.

A Seal Imprint from Old Nisa and the (Apollonian) Iconography of Mithra

Sinisi, Fabrizio. 2017. A seal imprint from Old Nisa and the (Apollonian) iconography of MithraStudia Iranica 46(1). 9–30.

A seal impression from Old Nisa / Mithradatkart bearing the image of a deity is reexamined. It is suggested that the figure is depicted in the guise of Apollo in order to portray the Zoroastrian god Mithra. Other images of Apollonian derivation are discussed to track the iconographic development of the solar traits of Mithra.

The Coherence of Yasna

Zoroastrian fire ceremony.

Ahmadi, Amir. 2017. On the coherence of Yasna: A critical assessment of recent arguments. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 1-26.
DOI

In recent years a number of scholars have proposed more or less detailed schemas of the formation of the Zoroastrian ritual. These schemas offer accounts of the arrangement of the texts in the liturgy, the process of its formation, and even its function from an endogenous perspective. One way or another, they argue that the official Zoroastrian liturgy is an integrated ritual with a coherent text, and that the function of the ritual and the intention behind the arrangement of the texts can be determined by means of philological, literary and comparative analyses. The questions of formation and meaning of the Zoroastrian liturgy these scholars have placed on the agenda are important not only for the study of Zoroastrianism but also for the history of religions and ritual theory. I consider their accounts with respect to the texts they invoke and the methods they use, and show that their arguments suffer from fatal flaws.

The Imagery of the Ritual Landscape at Persepolis

Garrison, Mark B. 2017. The ritual landscape at persepolis: glyptic imagery from the persepolis fortification and treasury archives. (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 71). Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

There are, perhaps, no more contentious issues within the study of Achaemenid Persia than those surrounding its religion(s) and religious iconography. Owing to the role that fire plays in Zoroastrian beliefs in later periods in Iran, almost any discussion of the subject of Achaemenid religion will eventually turn to the identification of sacred fire, fire temples, fire worship, and fire altars in the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary records.

The focus of this book is a corpus of glyptic imagery preserved as impressions on two large archives of administrative tablets from Persepolis, the Persepolis Fortification archive (509-493 BC) and the Persepolis Treasury archive (492-457 BC). The glyptic imagery here published concerns representations of what have been traditionally termed “fire altars” and/or “fire temples.” Most of this glyptic evidence has never been published; many of the structures and the scenes in which they occur are strikingly original.
The goals of this study are to introduce a new corpus of visual imagery concerning religious ritual in the Achaemenid period and to explore the significance of this visual language for our understanding of ritual traditions emerging within the heart of the empire at its most critical formative period, the reign of Darius I. This study seeks also to use the Persepolitan glyptic evidence as a springboard to re-visit the most famous “fire altar” depicted in Achaemenid art, that on the tomb relief of Darius I at Naqs-e Rostam.

This study is an initial step in the development of a religious topography for the zone encompassing Persepolis and Naqs-e Rostam, both a topography on the imaginary level (through images) and a topography on the physical level (through the built space). The glyptic images assembled in this study are the most numerous, the most visually complex, and the best dated and contextualized evidence that currently exists for the study of fire in ritual, and religious ritual more broadly, in early Achaemenid Iran.

You can download and read this volume here.

Corpus Avesticum Berolinense

Today, the Institute of Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, received the confirmation of funding for Corpus Avesticum Berolinense (CAB), a long-term project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for 12 years . The goal of CAB is to edit all Zoroastrian rituals preserved in the Avestan language. This is excellent news for the institute and the discipline. The BiblioIranica team congratulates Prof. Alberto Cantera for this achievement. It is more than well-deserved.

See the institute’s announcement for more information.

A Zoroastrian Doctrine in the Manichaean Reception

Panaino, Antonio. 2017. The end of time and the ‘Laws of Zoroaster’. A Zoroastrian doctrine in the Manichaean reception. In Francesco Calzolaio, Erika Petrocchi, Marco Valisano & Alessia Zubani (eds.), In limine. Esplorazioni attorno all’idea di confine, 61–68 (Studi e Ricerche 9). Venezia: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Zoroastrian theology clearly insisted on the assumption that historical time was limited and that in its borders ‘evil’ should be destroyed. Practically, ‘time’ and ‘space’ were a sort of weapon used by Ohrmazd in order to entrap Ahreman and his demonic army. In this spatio-temporal frame – work, the end of historical time involved also the end of Ahreman himself, so that one of the actions enacted by the ‘Antagonist Spirit’ would be that of trying to delay and stop its regular course. Recent studies on the Manichaean Coptic Kephalaia of Dublin confirm the importance of this Mazdean doctrine and present a direct witness of this theological dogma, which was presented in a way conveniently fitting for the Gnostic religion professed by Mani.

Bulletin of the Asia Institute 27

Issue 27 of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute will be published this December. The information on this issue is not yet available on the journal’s website, but the content has been circulated, which we are publishing here.

Bulletin of the Asia Institute 27

December 2017

Articles

  • Frantz Grenet, “More Zoroastrian Scenes on the Wirkak (Shi Jun) Sarcophagus”
  • Yaakov Elman and Mahnaz Moazami, “PV 5.1–4 in the Context of Late Antique Intellectual History”
  • Harry Falk, “The Ashes of the Buddha”
  • Peter Skilling, “Śrāvakas, Buddhas, and the Buddha’s Father: Inscribed Artefacts in the U Thong National Museum”
  • V. H. Sonowane, “Rock Paintings Depicting Stupas in Gujarat, India”
  • Domenico Agostini and Shaul Shaked, “Sasanian Seals of Priests”
  • Nicholas Sims-Williams, “A Bactrian Document of the Fifth Century c.e.”
  • Salman Aliyari Babolghani, “Achaemenid Elamite dayāuš (~ Old Persian dahyāu̯-š)”
  • Dieter Weber, “Accountancy of a Zoroastrian Craftsman in Early Islamic Times (662–664 CE)”
  • Stefan Zimmer, “The Etymology of Avestan 2čiqra- ‘Descent, Progeny'”
  • Zhang Zhan, “Kings of Khotan During the Tang Dynasty”

Reviews

  • Lieu and Mikkelsen, eds. Between Rome and China (Albert E. Dien)
  • Hansen. The Silk Road: A New History with Documents(Jenny Rose)
  • Mair and Hickman, eds. Reconfiguring the Silk Road: (Jenny Rose)

v + 170 pp.

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