Categories
Books

The Sentiment of Knowledge

Pirart, Éric. Le Sentiment du Savoir. Présentation, analyse, traduction et commentaire de la Spentā.mańiiu Gāθā (Y 47-50). Précédé d’une introduction générale, suivi de quatre Marginales grammaticales et d’une Concordance des textes vieil-avestiques (Acta Iranica 61).

Les cinq Gāθā, avec le Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, sont les seuls témoignages des conceptions zoroastriennes de la première heure: l’archidémon Aŋhra Mańiiu n’était pas encore né. Le Sentiment du Savoir, la conviction des adorateurs qu’Ahura Mazdā sait ce qui est bon et pourra, de ce fait, leur apporter son aide, tel est le sens du titre de la troisième Gāθā, tiré de son incipit. Pour la recherche de la portée primitive des Gāθā de l’Avesta et de leur statut premier, il est pris, dans le présent ouvrage, l’exemple de la troisième qui est alors présentée, étudiée de façon approfondie et traduite. Cette recherche est accompagnée de plusieurs outils grammaticaux.

Categories
Books

The Sasanian Empire at War

Decker, Michael J. 2022. The Sasanian Empire at War. Persia, Rome, and the Rise of Islam, 224–651. Yardley: Westholme Publishing.

The Sasanian Empire at War: Persia, Rome, and the Rise of Islam, 224–651 is the first comprehensive study in English examining war and society in one of the most important empires in world history: the Persian Empire of 224-651 AD, ruled by the Sasanian clan. At its height the Sasanians governed lands from the Indus River in the east to Egypt and the Mediterranean in the west. Adversaries of Rome, they also faced grave challenges from nomadic powers from Central Asia, notably the Huns and Turks. The Sasanians were able to maintain their empire for hundreds of years through nearly constant warfare, but when their expansion was checked in the north by the Byzantines at Constantinople in 626, and with the Muslim invasions to their south and west beginning in the 630s, the empire could no longer be sustained, and it finally collapsed.

In this book, Michael J. Decker examines Sasanian warfare, including military capabilities, major confrontations, organization and weapons of the Persian army. In addition to providing a comprehensive overview of the conflicts that marked this vital period in the history of Eurasia, The Sasanian Empire at War challenges long cherished notions of the inferiority of Sasanian military capabilities and renders a new image of a sophisticated, confident culture astride the heart of Eurasia at the end of the ancient world and birth of the Silk Road. Persian arms were among the many features of their culture that drew widespread admiration and was one of the keys to the survival of Iranian culture beyond the Arab Conquest and into the present day.

Categories
Books

Jews of Iran: A Photographic Chronicle

Sarbakhshian, Hassan, Lior B. Sternfeld & Parvaneh Vahidmanesh. 2022. Jews of Iran: A Photographic Chronicle (Dimyonot : Jews and the Cultural Imagination 13). Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

This book reveals one of the most beautiful and complicated untold stories of our time.

Westerners often imagine Jews in Iran as a captive and oppressed community, alienated within their home nation yet restricted from leaving it. The reality is much more complex. Jews of Iran is a photographic journey through twenty-first-century Iran, providing a unique view of the country’s Jewish community in situations typically unknown to the Western world. Photojournalist Hassan Sarbakhshian spent two years living among Iran’s Jewish communities, joining them for holidays, family gatherings, and travels, and—with the help of fellow journalist Parvaneh Vahidmanesh—documenting how they lived. Moving beyond the well-known state and regional confrontations, the photos that Sarbakhshian took tell a broader story about a community of people who live in the figurative and literal middle. They are Iranian nationals by birth and by choice, and they are Jews by religious affiliation. Full loyalty to their country is expected, even as their ancestral homeland is at odds with their political homeland. This photographic chronicle illuminates the grey zone that they inhabit.

Featuring over one hundred full-color photos, contextualized with extensive annotations, and accompanied by a substantive introduction written by historian Lior B. Sternfeld, Jews of Iran calls into question Western views of this religious community.

Categories
Articles

An Unknown Illuminated Judeo-Persian Manuscript of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn

Khosrow Discovers Shīrīn Bathing, From Pictorial Cycle of Eight Poetic Subjects, mid 18th century. Brooklyn Museum.

Carmeli, Orit. 2021. An Unknown Illuminated Judeo-Persian Manuscript of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn. Ars Judaica. The Bar Ilan Journal of Jewish Art 17(1). 131–140.

This is a brief presentation of the mid-seventeenth-century illuminated Judeo-Persian copy of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn from the collection of the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. The Khamsa of Nizāmī Ganjavi (d. 1209) is one of the most famous medieval Persian love stories and one of the most admired poetical works ever written in the Persian language. Khosrow and Shīrīn (composed 1175/6-1191) is the second book in the Quinary and recounts the tragic love story of the Sasanian king Khosrow II Parviz and the Armenian princess Shīrīn. Nizāmī’s poetry, in addition to other works of Persian classical masters, was regarded by the Jews of Iran as an integral part of their literary and cultural heritage. Over the years these renowned poetical works were largely transliterated into Judeo-Persian and copies of the texts can be found in various public and private collections. The manuscript in question and other illuminated Judeo-Persian manuscripts clearly testify to their owners and patrons’ awareness of long-established Persian artistic tradition and cultural conventions, representing Jewish-Persian encounter in text and image.

Categories
Books

Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston

Booth, Phil & Mary Whitby (eds.). 2022. Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston (Travaux et mémoires 26). Paris: Association des Amis du centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance.

Apart from a brief stint as a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, in 1968-9, James Howard-Johnston spent his entire academic career at Oxford University. After a period as Junior Research Lecturer at Christ Church from 1966-71, he was then University Lecturer in Byzantine Studies and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College until his retirement almost forty years later in 2009. In the mid-2000s he served briefly as interim president of Corpus. From 1972 to 1987 he was also passionately involved in local politics, serving as an Oxford City Councillor and Oxfordshire County Councillor. His retirement from politics was accompanied by a stream of publications that has continued to the present day.

Throughout his career, James cultivated a number of interests, for example, the political and military history of Byzantium, the Eurasian steppe, and the Sassanid empire; Byzantine historiography; medieval law and commerce; and, perhaps most importantly, the history of warfare, and in particular the “world crisis” that dramatically and permanently reorganized the Middle East during the seventh century. Readers of James’s bibliography through 2022, which we include at the beginning of this volume, will perceive the simultaneous cultivation of all these interests, but also a growing preoccupation with the seventh century, which intensified from the 1990s onward and culminated in two masterpieces of scholarship produced during his retirement-or, as James would put it in his typical self-deprecating style, his “defuncation.” The first, Witnesses to a world crisis, represents the distillation of many years of deep reflection on the various sources of seventh-century political history, as well as a profound reflection on the rise of Islam and the Arab conquests. The second (of which Witnesses is in many ways the prequel), The Last Great War of Antiquity, is now the first comprehensive history of the final conflict between the Roman and Iranian empires, a great subject of which James has long been the acknowledged master.

Some related contributions to the Iranian Studies in this volume:

Ainslie, Roger, Mohammad Arman Ershadi & Davit Naskidashvili: Qalʿeh Kharabeh in northern Iran: a Sasanian military tent city for ten thousand mounted soldiers?

Booth, Phil: Egypt under the Sasanians (619–29): “stability, continuity, and tolerance”?

Greenwood, Tim: Adontz, Armenia and Iran in late antiquity.

Gyselen, Rika: La géographie administrative de l’Empire sassanide: ce que le Šahrestānīha-ye Ērānšahr ne dit pas.

McLynn, Neil: Ammianus Marcellinus and the making of Persian strategy.

Taylor, David G. K.: The Syriac version of Strategios’ History of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem.

Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw: The Coals Which Were His Guardians…’: The Hermeneutics of Heraclius’ Persian Campaign and a Faint Trace of the ‘Last Great War’ in Zoroastrian Literature.

Wiesehöfer, Josef: Alfred von Gutschmid, Theodor Nöldeke and the beginnings of the Sasanian Empire.

Zychowicz-Coghill, Edward: The Byzantinist of Isfahan: Ḥamza ibn al-Ḥasan on Greek and Roman history.

Categories
Books

In Search of Iranian Continuity: From the Zoroastrian Tradition to the Islamic Mysticism

Azarnouche, Samra (ed.). 2022. À la recherche de la continuité iranienne: de la tradition zoroastrienne à la mystique islamique. Recueil de textes autour de l’œuvre de Marijan Molé (1924-1963). Turnhout: Brepols.

The work of the Polish-Slovenian Iranian scholar Marijan Molé (1924-1963) has had a profound influence on the religious sciences that can be observed to this day. In barely fifteen years (1948-1963), he was able to give unprecedented impetus to Iranian studies, thanks to the meticulous study of corpora ranging from the Avesta and Middle Persian Zoroastrian literature to treatises on Islamic mysticism, including Persian epics and mythical gestures. Too soon interrupted, the vast project that he had begun during his years of study in Krakow and which he pursued in Paris and Tehran had as its main axis the uncovering of a unitary system that would underpin the evolution of a religious doctrine over the long term, an “Iranian continuity”.

The recent discovery of his Nachlass (IRHT and BULAC, Paris) provides us with the opportunity to take stock of his legacy and to try to highlight the originality of his approach and his contribution to the history of ideas and to the intellectual debate on the religions of Iran, by identifying both the achievements and the dead ends, the innovations and the extensions.

The present volume gathers the contributions on Zoroastrianism and Islamic mysticism, presented at the international study day entitled “Between Mazdeism and Islam”, dedicated to the work of Marijan Molé, which was held on 24 June 2016 in Paris.

Table of Contents

  • Chronologie de la vie de Marijan Molé (1924-1963)
  • Bibliographie de Marijan Molé
  • Gianroberto Scarcia: “Souvenir de Marijan Molé”
  • Anna Krasnowolska: “Marijan Molé’s Early Works and his Study of Persian Epics
  • Jean Kellens: “1956-1964: Le printemps des études gâthiques”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Marijan Molé à l’aube du nouveau comparatisme indo-iranien”
  • Shaul Shaked: “A Zoroastrian Anthropological Theology”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Le gētīg dans le mēnōg et le système chiliadique mazdéen selon la réflexion de Marijan Molé
  • Pierre lory: “Marijan Molé, ‘Azîz Nasafî et l’Homme Parfait”
  • Michel Tardieu: “Les Mystiques musulmans de Marijan Molé: contextes et enjeux”.
    • Appendice: Note brève sur le messalianisme
  • Florence Somer: “Marijan Molé et la «tradition jamaspienne»: le traité apocalyptique inédit des Aḥkām ī Jāmāsp”
  • Alexey Khismatulin: “Destiny of the Unpublished Works by Marijan Molé on the Naqshbandiya”.
    • Appendice: Description of “fonds Molé” (IRHT, Paris)
  • Appendice I: Marijan Molé: “Les origines de la geste sistanienne”
  • Appendice II: Correspondances
  • Appendice III: Description du fonds Marijan Molé (BULAC)
Categories
Articles

Gayōmart and Adam

Panaino, Antonio. 2021. Gayōmart e Adamo. Simmetrie e Asimmetrie tra Zoroastrismo e mondo islamo-giudaico-cristiano. In Carlo Saccone (ed.), Adamo, il secondo Adamo, il nuovo Adamo (Quaderni di studi indo-mediterranei). Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.

The frequent and direct association between Gayōmart and Adam, well attested within the Arabo-Islamic literary tradition, hides a number of embarrassing ethnic and cultural problems emerging from the taboo of the incest and directly connected with the impending desire to accommodate the origin of humanity, as inevitably generated by a couple of siblings, within a moral covered scheme, and in spite of the totally different sexual ethics of the Mazdean tradition. In the framework of this operation, the comparison with the Zoroastrian customs, which emphasized the habit of the next-of-kin marriage, presented a serious problem of moral nature. Then, the necessary accommodation of the origin of humanity was given a special solution, in which the story of J̌im e J̌imāg or of Mašyā e Mašyāne had no particular weight, and were practically covered, while an isolated Gayōmart, devoid of any emphasis for the union with his own mother, was identified with Adam.

Categories
Books

Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival

Kestenberg Amighi, Jaenet. 2022. Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival. First. Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers.

Zoroastrianism is both an ancient and still practiced religion. At its height it was the state religion of the Sasanian empire (224 to 651 AD) that ruled in the land of Persia. Arab conquest of the area destroyed that empire and a multitude eventually converted to Islam. Under Islamic rule Zoroastrians lived under severe restrictions, persecution while paying burdensome taxes. Many converted to Islam to escape these conditions and so Zoroastrian numbers dwindled. By 1850 no more than 8000 lived in their original homeland. Those who survived did see some periods of prosperity and eventually thrived under the secularizing rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-41) and his son (1941-79) who promoted an Iranian nationalism that embraced the Zoroastrian heritage. The main challenge to Zoroastrian persistence was the increasing secularism of society. With the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again the nation’s Zoroastrians found themselves subject to myriad discriminations, even their touch deemed polluting. Islam permeated Iran to a degree not seen before. The present work offers a unique socio-political history of the challenges faced by the Zoroastrian community from the 19th to 21st centuries as they confronted and adapted to the dramatic changes before them. The author, Anthropologist Janet Kestenberg Amighi lived and researched among her Zoroastrian in-laws in Iran from 1971-1978 and subsequently visited post-revolutionary Iran several times. This work is based on scholarly research as well as over 120 interviews with Zoroastrians, amusing personal experiences and the knowledge and experiences of her collaborator Bahman Moradian, an Iranian Zoroastrian scholar and community activist. Their collaboration provides varied insights and analyses of the socio-cultural and political change we see happening over the decades. The diverse Zoroastrian community perspectives are well represented.

Categories
Books Online resources

The Multimedia Yasna

The interactive film of the Performance of the High Zoroastrian Ceremony of Yasna

Open Access to the full film of the performance of the most solemn Zoroastrian ceremony the standard Yasna with the dedicatory of Mīnō Nāwar (the version edited by Geldner), the film is prepared in the frame of the multi-disciplinary Multimedia Yasna project (MuYa), based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council (ERC) with an Advanced Investigator Grant (2016-2022), which had as its focus the Yasna – the core ritual of the Zoroastrian religion:

“You can watch the film at different speeds by moving the dot on the speed line below the Chapter and Stanza & Subsection tabs. The recording of this film was made in November 2017 at the Dadar Athornan Institute in Mumbai. The two priests, who performed the ceremony are the late Ervad Asphandiarji Dadachanji and Ervad Adil Bhesania.”

The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA)

The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA) examines the performance and written transmission of the core ritual of the Zoroastrian tradition, the Yasna, whose oldest parts date from the second millennium BCE. Composed in an ancient Iranian language, Avestan, the texts were transmitted orally and not written down until the fifth or sixth century CE. The oral tradition continues to be central to the religion, and the daily Yasna ceremony, the most important of all the rituals, is recited from memory by Zoroastrian priests. The interpretation of the Yasna has long been hampered by out-dated editions and translations of the text and until now there has been no documentation and study of the performance of the full ritual. The project MUYA examines both the oral and written traditions. It has filmed a performance of the Yasna ritual and created a critical edition of the recitation text examining the Yasna both as a performance and as a text attested in manuscripts. The two approaches have been integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective.

Combining models and methodologies from digital humanities, philology and linguistics, the project has produced a subtitled, interactive film of the Yasna ritual, an online platform of transcribed manuscripts, editorial tools, digital transcriptions of manuscripts and digital editions with a text-critical apparatus, and with print editions, translations and commentaries of the Yasna. Information which was formerly restricted to students of Iranian philology and practising Zoroastrians has now become accessible to a world-wide audience through digital humanities. The project, based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council, ran from October 2016 to September 2022. It was headed by Professor Almut Hintze and included an international team of researchers in the UK, Germany, India and Iran.

Categories
Books

Festschrift for Mahmoud Jaafari-Dehaghi

Shayeste Doust, Amin (ed.). 2022. Dādestān ī Dēnīg. Festschrift for Mahmoud Jaafari-Dehaghi. Teheran: Farhang Moaser.

Table of contents: