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Books

Introduction to the Avesta

Kellens, Jean, and Céline Redard. 2021. Introduction à l’Avesta: Le récitatif liturgique sacré des zoroastriens. Les Belles Lettres.

Almost all religions of the contemporary world refer to a book that their followers consider sacred. The Avesta, the sacred book of the Zoroastrian communities of Iran, India and the diaspora is one of them, which bears witness to the origins of the pre-Islamic religion of the Iranian peoples.

Something, however, demands a closer look. Often approached as the theoretical expression of a religious doctrine or the mirror of a forgotten history and geography, the Avesta is also a literary engine whose mechanisms can be dismantled, that is, the precise analysis of the mode of transmission, the particularities of structure and the liturgical intentions presided over these textual assemblies.

Such is the ambition of this book, which traces the evolution of research from its origins to the advances of the 21st century, when our understanding of the Avesta was revolutionised.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapitre 1. Formation de la philologie avestique
  • Chapitre 2. La mise par écrit de l’Avesta
  • Chapitre 3. Le matériel manuscrit
  • Chapitre 4. Le texte transmis : l’Avesta
  • Chapitre 5. Analyse interne des textes constitutifs de l’Avesta
  • En guise de conclusion : un essai de chronologie
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Books

Iran’s Conversion to Islam

Pohl, Walter & Daniel Mahoney (eds.). 2021. Historiography and identity IV: Writing history across Medieval Eurasia. Brepols.

Explores the social function of historical writing from across various world regions from Europe through the Islamic world to China, around the turn of the millennium, and how they construct and shape identities, as well as communicate ‘visions of community’ and legitimate political claims.

Historical writing has shaped identities in various ways and to different extents. This volume explores this multiplicity by looking at case studies from Europe, Byzantium, the Islamic World, and China around the turn of the first millennium. The chapters in this volume address official histories and polemical critique, traditional genres and experimental forms, ancient traditions and emerging territories, empires and barbarians. The authors do not take the identities highlighted in the texts for granted, but examine the complex strategies of identification that they employ. This volume thus explores how historiographical works in diverse contexts construct and shape identities, as well as legitimate political claims and communicate ‘visions of community’.

Two chapters of this volume touch on subjects of Iranian studies:

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Books

The Srōš Drōn – Yasna 3 to 8

Redard, Céline. 2021. The Srōš Drōn – Yasna 3 to 8. A Critical Edition with Ritual Commentaries and Glossary (Corpus Avesticum 3). Leiden: Brill.

This book is a multi-faceted study of the Srōš Drōn, comprising chapters 3 to 8 of the Yasna ceremony, the core ritual of the Zoroastrian religion. It provides a critical edition produced with the electronic tools of the project The Multimedia Yasna, and a study of the performative aspects of the Srōš Drōn both through the lens of the ritual directions and in comparison with the Drōn Yašt ceremony.
By analysing the Srōš Drōn both as a text attested in manuscripts and as a ritual performance, Céline Redard applies a new approach to unlock the meaning of these chapters of the Yasna.

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Books

Commagene in its Local, Regional and Global Hellenistic Context

Blömer, Michael, Stefan Riedel, Miguel John Versluys & Engelbert Winter (eds.). 2021. Common dwelling place of all the gods: Commagene in its local, regional and global Hellenistic context (Oriens et Occidens Band 34). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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Books

A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire

Jacobs, Bruno & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2021. A companion to the Achaemenid Persian empire. 2 vols. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

The Achaemenid Empire is often addressed as the first World Empire. However, its roots are in Near Eastern traditions, some of which have been the subject of recent intensive reevaluation. This book takes a unique and innovative approach to the subject, considering those predecessors to whom the Achaemenid Empire was indebted for its structure, ideology, and self-expression, by examining both written and archaeological sources. It addresses the empire’s legacy, and its contemporary, later, and even modern reception.

A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire takes into account all relevant historical sources, including archaeological ones. It places particular emphasis on looking at the Achaemenid Empire from its different centers, paying just as much attention to the widely neglected eastern parts as to the commonly covered western parts of the empire. The book considers, not only its political history, but also its social, economic, and religious history, institutions, and art and science, in an effort to draw a complete picture of the empire and to foster an appreciation for its lasting reputation.

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Books

Christian and Zoroastrian Doctrine of Apokatastasis

Panaino, Antonio. 2021. The “River of Fire” and the “River of Molten Metal”. A historico-theological rafting through the rapids of the Christian and Mazdean apokatastatic falls. Vol. 86. Wien: Verlag der Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

This book is dedicated to the Mazdean theological representation of the end of historical time. While the subject is usually treated in the framework of the category of apocalypticism, scholarly debate has rarely dealt with the more appropriate theme of the apokatastasis (the complete regeneration of the world with the annihilation of Hell and the salvation of the whole humanity). The doctrine of Ohrmazd’s universal mercy was an innovation in the religious scenario of ancient Iran, but its connections with some Christian theologies of Late Antiquity still need to be investigated within a comparative analysis of the Iranian motif of the “river of molten metal”, which will purify the wicked ones and destroy Hell.

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Books

Zoroastrian High Rituals with Persian Instructions

Dastūr Nāmdār & Dastūr Rostam. Yasna, Visperad, Yašt-e Rapitvan bā ādāb-e dīnī [Yasna, Visperad and Yašt ī Rapiθwin together with Ritual Instructions]. Edited by Kūroš Bolandī. Tehran: Fravahar, 1400 š [2021].

This volume is an edition of the Persian manual for the performance of the Yasna, Visperad, Yašt ī Rapiθwin and some other rituals, written and compiled by Dastūr Nāmdār and Dastūr Rostam, which was published in 1262 AY. The present edition gives the Persian text together with some explanations and a glossary. The importance of this priestly manual lies in the fact that it presents the last stage of the performance of the Zoroastrian high rituals by Iranian priests, before their performance were abandoned, and thus an essential source for the study of the Zoroastrian rituals in Iran.

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Articles

Quatrefoils of Early China and Their Achaemenid Parallels

Kim, Minku. 2021. The Pinnacle Ornament of Flowers: Quatrefoils of Early China and Their Achaemenid Parallels. In Guolong Lai (ed.), Occult Arts, Art History, and Cultural Exchange in Early China: A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Li Ling on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday. Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press.

Roof tile-ends (wadang) with double quatrefoils. From the site of Shuzhuanglou 梳粧樓, Warring- States Zhao 趙 city of Dabeicheng 大北城, Handan 邯鄲 (Hebei). Fourth to third century BCE.

The quatrefoil is an ornamental design formed by a cruciferous arrangement of four leafor petal-like projections radiating from a mutual hub. The form was widely circulated across the ancient Western world, most distinctively in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Iranian plateau, with a variety of related schemes, including the dual quatrefoil (also known as the petal-and-calyx alternation), as well as those more commonly called the rosettes or lotus flowers. In China, quatrefoils began to be regularly seen during the late Springs and Autumns period, most notably on the assemblage of Jin bronzes. The usage of quatrefoils gradually intensified in the following periods, reaching an apogee during the Han empire, with a range of variants applied to numerous articles of material culture. With the quatrefoils being a design largely unknown prior to the mid-Eastern Zhou period, this essay argues that a foreign stimulus, most notably from the then emerging Achaemenid empire, provided a primary catalyst for the subsequent adaptations of this type of ornament in China.

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Books

Religion, Culture, and Politics in Pre-Islamic Iran

Lincoln, Bruce. 2021. Religion, culture, and politics in pre-Islamic Iran: collected essays (Ancient Iran Series 14). Leiden; Boston: Brill.

In Religion, Culture, and Politics in Pre-Islamic Iran, Bruce Lincoln offers a vast overview on different aspects of the Indo-Iranian, Zoroastrian and Pre-Islamic mythologies, religions and cultural issues. The book is organized in four sections according to the body of evidence they engage most directly: Avestan, Old Persian, Pahlavi, and Iranian materials in comparison with other data, including studies of myths, especially those with cosmogonic implications, ritual practices, cosmological constructions of space and time, points of intersection between religion, ethics, law, and politics, ideological aspects of scientific and medical theorizing, social organization and gender relations, and other diverse topics.

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Books

Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad

Gross, Simcha. 2021. The Curious Case of the Jewish Sasanian Queen Šīšīnduxt: Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad. Journal of the American Oriental Society 141(2). 365–380.

The Provincial Capitals of Ērānšahr, a medieval Zoroastrian Middle Persian text, recounts how the daughter of the Jewish exilarch married the Sasanian king Yazdgird I and gave birth to Wahrām Gōr, his successor. While the historicity of the text has been largely undermined, scant attention has been given to its authorship and purpose. This article proposes that the story’s creators were members of the exilarch’s household in the tenth through eleventh century who internalized the broader concern with (invented) Sasanian pedigree during the period known as the Iranian intermezzo in an effort to appeal to Iranian Jews and other elites alike. Studying this text and its origins provides evidence of contact between Jews and Zoroastrians during this period and offers a new suggestion about the cultural context of the Zoroastrians who produced The Provincial Capitals.