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Repetition of Preverbs in the Avesta

Forssman, Bernhard. 2020. Wiederholung von Präverbien im Avesta. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 170(2). 361–370.

The paper discusses the strange repetition of preverbs, well known from Old Avestan (e.g. nī. aēšəmō. nī.diiātąm. Y 48,7a), which seems to go back to the Proto-Indo-European language.

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The Zoroastrian Vision, Straight in the Eyes

Azarnouche, Samra & Olivia Ramble. 2020. La Vision zoroastrienne, les yeux dans les yeux Commentaire sur la Dēn selon Dēnkard III.225. Revue de l’his toire des reli gions 237(3). 331–395.

Sassanian Seal MOT 6.1, Collection M. I. Mochiri, after Gnoli 1993: 80.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, the Dēn (Avestan daēnā “vision”) is a polysemic notion that denotes either an auroral psychopompic deity, or the religious doctrine, or again the sacred word of the Avesta. Passage 225 of the Dēnkard III, commented here for the first time, combines these different concepts, thereby not only bringing direct proof for the continuity of the word’s original meaning—“vision”—between the Avestan textual layer and the Middle Persian (Pahlavi) exegetic layer, but also testifying to the development of metaphysical speculation (with a neo-platonic backdrop) concerning the transcendental vision acquired by the magi. Material sources (iconographic as well as epigraphic) also contribute to highlighting the notion that the Dēn is the divine entity that one looks at straight in the eyes.

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Articles

The Conceptual Image of the Planets in Ancient Iran and the Process of Their Demonization

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. The conceptual image of the planets in ancient Iran and the process of their demonization: Visual materials and models of inclusion and exclusion in Iranian history of knowledge. Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 28. 359–389.

The Moon God (Klimova plate, Perm region, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg S-43)

The present contribution offers an overview of the main problems concerning the representation of the planets in the pre-Islamic Iranian world, the origin of their denominations, their astral roles and the reasons behind their demonization in the Zoroastrian and Manichaean frameworks. This is a preliminary attempt to resume the planetary iconography and iconology in western and eastern Iranian sources, involving also external visual data, such as those coming from Dunhuang and the Chinese world. The article offers an intellectual journey into a net of mutual cultural and spiritual relations, focusing on the image of the heaven (and of its celestial beings), thereby proposing a new synthesis and highlighting a number of intercultural contaminations.

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Zoroastrian Dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean Perspective

Volume 96, issue 2 (2020) of Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses is dedicated to the subject of Zoroastrian dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean perspectives.

Table of Contents

  • Jan Dochhorn: Zu den religionsgeschichtilichen Hintergründen der jüdischen und christlichen Satanologie. Eine Antwort auf John J. Collins, zugleich Sondierungen zum Verhältnis zwischen der Zwei-Geister-Lehre in 1 Q S III,13-IV,26 und dualistischen Konzepten iranischer Herkunft.
  • Benjamin Gleede: More Zoroastrian than Zoroaster? The Problem of Zoroastrian Influence on Manichaeism Illustrated by a Version of the Manichaean Myth Preserved in Severus of Antioch, Titus of Bostra and Theodoret of Cyrus.
  • Nestor Kavvadas: Sasanian Creed or Byzantine Projection? The Zurvanite Myth and Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Contra Magos.
  • Alexander M. Schilling: Ahreman in Armenien. Untersuchungen zu den christlich-orientalischen Zurwān-Texten.
  • Fazel Pakzad: Deus filius temporis? Divine Derivations and the Nature of Zoroastrian Dualism
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Iranian Cosmographical World

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. A Walk through the Iranian Heavens: For a History of an Unpredictable Dialogue between Nonspherical and Spherical Models (Ancient Iran Series 9). Irvine, CA: Jordan Center for Persian Studies, University of California, Irvine.

This book by Antonio Panaino discusses the development of the Iranian cosmographical world and its interaction with the Greek, Mesopotamian and Indic civilizations. By undertaking such a study, the author places the Iranian intellectual tradition in perspective vis-à-vis other ancient civilizations and demonstrates the depth and importance of the Mazdean tradition, which was able to absorb and systematize foreign knowledge. Panaino shows the presence of both Aristotelian and Neo-Platonist traditions in the Iranian intellectual scene, though somewhat changed and acculturated to the Mazdean ideas and world-view. Hence, the book is a lively and interesting study of the juxtapositioning of various scientific and philosophical ideas at play in the Mediterranean, Iranian and Indic worlds.

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Books

The Bundahišn: a new translation

Agostini, Domenico & Samuel Thrope (eds.). 2020. The Bundahišn: The Zoroastrian Book of Creation. A new translation. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Bundahisn, meaning primal or foundational creation, is the central Zoroastrian account of creation, cosmology, and eschatology. Compiled sometime in the ninth century CE, it is one of the most important surviving testaments to Zoroastrian literature in the Middle Persian language and to pre-Islamic Iranian culture. Despite having been composed some two millennia after the Prophet Zoroaster’s revelation, it is nonetheless a concise compendium of ancient Zoroastrian knowledge that draws on and reshapes earlier layers of the tradition.

Well known in the field of Iranian Studies as an essential primary source for scholars of ancient Iran’s history, religions, literatures, and languages, the Bundahisn is also a great work of literature in and of itself, ranking alongside the creation myths of other ancient traditions. The book’s thirty-six diverse chapters, which touch on astronomy, eschatology, zoology, medicine, and more, are composed in a variety of styles, registers, and genres, from spare lists and concise commentaries to philosophical discourses and poetic eschatological visions. This new translation, the first in English in nearly a century, highlights the aesthetic quality, literary style, and complexity and raises the profile of pre-Islamic Zoroastrian literature.

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Books

Turkic-Iranian relationships: Uighur newcomers of the Qočo kingdom

Piras, Andrea. 2019. Khan uiguri del regno di Qočo (850-1250) nelle fonti di Turfan. In Giorgio Comai, Carlo Frappi, Giovanni Pedrini & Elena Rova (eds.), Armenia, Caucaso e Asia Centrale (Eurasiatica 12), 145–161. Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

This article firstly deals with a general survey of the Turkic-Iranian relationships, from the VI century onwards, by the point of view of epigraphic evidences and sparse linguistic references within the Indo-Iranian borderlands and Central Asia. Secondly, it focuses on Turkic words (onomastic, epithets, titles) recorded in Middle Persian texts of the Manichean religion, in order to highlight the cultural contacts between the Uighur newcomers of the Qočo kingdom and the local population, both sharing common religious beliefs such as Manichaeism and Buddhism. Given the Manichaean faith of the Uighur élites, the Middle Persian Manichaean texts show an appreciation of the Turkic rulership, attested by the panegyrical tone of many compositions dedicated to the khans and their entourages.

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Books

Rethinking the Life of Mani

Gardner, Iain. 2020. The founder of Manichaeism: Rethinking the life of Mani. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mani, a third-century preacher, healer and public sage from Sasanian Mesopotamia, lived at a pivotal time and place in the development of the major religions. He frequented the courts of the Persian Empire, debating with rivals from the Judaeo-Christian tradition, philosophers and gnostics, Zoroastrians from Iran and Buddhists from India. The community he founded spread from north Africa to south China and lasted for over a thousand years. Yet the genuine biography of its founder, his life and thought, was in good part lost until a series of spectacular discoveries have begun to transform our knowledge of Mani’s crucial role in the spread of religious ideas and practices along the trade-routes of Eurasia. This book utilises the latest historical and textual research to examine how Mani was remembered by his followers, caricatured by his opponents, and has been invented and re-invented according to the vagaries of scholarly fashion.

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Books

Indian storytelling and the romance genre in Persian and Urdu

Khan, Pasha M. 2019. The broken spell: Indian storytelling and the romance genre in Persian and Urdu (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies). Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

The Broken Spell: Indian Storytelling and the Romance Genre in Persian and Urdu is a monograph on the rise and fall in popularity of “romances” (qissah)—tales of wonder and magic told by storytellers at princely courts and in public spaces in India from the sixteenth century to the twentieth. Using literary genre theory, author Pasha M. Khan points to the worldviews underlying the popularity of Urdu and Persian romances, before pre-existing Islamicate rationalist traditions gained traction and Western colonialism came to prominence in India.

In the introduction, Khan explains that it was around the end of the nineteenth century that these marvelous tales became devalued by Orientalists and intellectually colonized Indian elites, while at the same time a new genre, the novel, gained legitimacy. Khan goes on to narrate the life histories of professional storytellers, many of them émigrés from Iran to Mughal-ruled India, and considers how they raised their own worth and that of the romance in the face of changes in the economics, culture, and patronage of India. Khan shows the methods whereby such storytellers performed and how they promoted themselves and their art. The dividing line between marvelous tales and history is examined, showing how and why the boundary was porous. The study historicizes the Western understanding of the qissah as a local manifestation of a worldwide romance genre, showing that this genre equation had profound ideological effects. The book’s appendix contains a translation of an important text for understanding Iranian and Indian storytelling methods: the unpublished introductory portions to Fakhr al-Zamani’s manual for storytellers.

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Persianate Art, Culture, and Talent in Circulation

Overton, Keelan (ed.). 2020. Iran and the Deccan: Persianate art, culture, and talent in circulation, 1400-1700. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

In the early 1400s, Iranian elites began migrating to the Deccan plateau of southern India. Lured to the region for many reasons, these poets, traders, statesmen, and artists of all kinds left an indelible mark on the Islamic sultanates that ruled the Deccan until the late seventeenth century. The result was the creation of a robust transregional Persianate network linking such distant cities as Bidar and Shiraz, Bijapur and Isfahan, and Golconda and Mashhad.

Iran and the Deccan explores the circulation of art, culture, and talent between Iran and the Deccan over a three-hundred-year period. Its interdisciplinary contributions consider the factors that prompted migration, the physical and intellectual poles of connectivity between the two regions, and processes of adaptation and response. Placing the Deccan at the center of Indo-Persian and early modern global history, Iran and the Deccan reveals how mobility, liminality, and cultural translation nuance the traditional methods and boundaries of the humanities.

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