Category Archives: Books

A reader in Modern Persian

Delshad, Farshid. 2015. Textbuch modernes Persisch. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.

The Textbook Modern Persian contains thirty selected readings about contemporary Iran from various disciplinary perspectives including: literature, philosophy, theology, mysticism, society, politics, history, geography, sports, cuisine, mythology and computational linguistics. Each chapter of the book includes an introduction to the topic, a rating of the complexity of the text (from A2 to C2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), the philological acquisition of lexical fields within the chapter, and a selected bibliography of additional material on the subject matter. The text also includes a concise trilingual glossary (Persian-German-English), a conjugation sample, a detailed list of all common infinitives in Modern Persian, and English abstracts for each of the thirty textbook units. This book is ideal for students taking Persian language courses, as well as for anyone interested in contemporary Persian language, literature and culture.

For more information read the preface to this volume and a sample chapter as well as see the ToC.
About the author:
Farshid Delshad received his PhD in Historical Comparative Linguistics from the German University of Friedrich-Schiller. He is currently working in Germany and in the United States as an associate scholar for Languages and Cultures of the Muslim World.

The Pahlavi Yasna of the Gāθās and Yasna Haptaŋhāiti

Malandra, William W. & Pallan Ichaporia (eds.). 2013. The Pahlavi Yasna of the Gāthās and Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. Wiesbaden: Reichert. 2nd ed., corrected.

As the title suggests the book is a study of the Pahlavi Yasna, a Middle Persian (Pahlavi) gloss on the liturgical text, the Yasna. The study is restricted to the Gāthās or Hymns of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) and to the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, a prose text composed in the same dialect of Avestan. There are three main sections: Introduction, The Text, and Glossary. In addition there are two Appenices: I Parallel Text of the Avestan and Pahalvi Gloss; II The ašәm vohū and its Variants in the Dēnkart. The Introduction is a text-critical study of the Pahlavi Yasna which addresses the main issues of the nature of the text, its authorship and dating, and its relationship to parallels in the Dēnkard. In the presentation of the text, the position is taken that the fundamental text is a nearly word-by-word gloss on the original Avestan. That is, it is not a translation as we might understand the term. Interspersed in the gloss are miscellaneous comments inserted by later hands to illuminate certain words and passages. Appendix I is provided to portray how the glosses line up with the Avestan, ignoring the later comments. The text itself is based on the 1946 critical edition of B. N. Dhabhar given in the Pahlavi script and to which we have provided many improvements. In footnotes we have cited all the parallel passages from the Dēnkard. These reveal that there were exegetical traditions other than the official Pahlavi Yasna. Although Dhabhar’s edition included a glossary, it is not up to the philological standards of current scholarship. There is deliberately no translation into English, as a running gloss of this sort does not lend itself to a coherent translation.
The contribution to the fields of Middle Persian and Zoroastrian studies is really threefold: 1) to establish a reliable text in Roman transliteration; 2) to provide an extensive glossary of all lexical items; 3) to contribute to an understanding of the nature and formation of the text. The intended readership is primarily scholars and students who have some acquaintance with Pahlavi and have an interest in the history of Zoroastrianism.

For more information see the ToC and read both the Preface to this volume as well as a Sample Chapter.
About the authors:
William W. Malandra is Associate Professor of Indo-Iranian Philology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Pallan R. Ichaporia has BA in Avesta/Pahlavi from Bombay University and attended Columbia University for Post Graduate Study in Iranian Languages under James Russell. He obtained doctorate in Business Administration from Oklahoma.

The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in the comprehensive book of Rhazes

Kahl, Oliver. 2015. The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in the comprehensive book of Rhazes. Brill.

This work offers a critical analysis of the Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian sources in Rhazes’ (d. 925 CE) Comprehensive Book (or al-Kitāb al-Ḥāwī), a hugely famous and highly unusual medico-pharmaceutical encyclopedia originally written in Arabic. All text material appears in full Arabic with English translations throughout, whilst the traceable Indian fragments are represented here, for the first time, in both the original Sanskrit and corresponding English translations. The philological core of the book is framed by a detailed introductory study on the transmission of Indian, Syrian and Iranian medicine and pharmacy to the Arabs, and by extensive bilingual glossaries of relevant Arabic and Sanskrit terms as well as Latin botanical identifications.

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The policy of Darius and Xerxes

Vasilev, Miroslav Ivanov. 2015. The policy of Darius and Xerxes towards Thrace and Macedonia (Mnemosyne Supplements. History and Archaeology of Classical Antiquity 379). Leiden: Brill.

The campaigns of the Persian kings Darius and Xerxes in Europe led to the subjugation of part of the southern Thrace and Greek cities situated between Byzantium and Strymon River, along with the subordination of Macedonia. While the relations between Persians and Greeks are well developed by numerous publications, including many monographs, the Policy Darius and Xerxes towards Thrace and Macedonia appears undeservedly neglected.

In The Policy of Darius and Xerxes towards Thrace and Macedonia Miroslav Vasilev analyses in detail the policy of the Persian kings towards their European possessions in the years 514–465 BC.

For more information and take a look inside the book see here.

 
Miroslav Ivanov Vasilev, PhD (2010), Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, is an independent researcher. He has published articles concerning early Macedonian history (before Philip II), includingThe military-political campaign of Sitalces against Perdiccas II and the Chalcidians (431–429 B.C.), Živa Antika, Skopje 2011.

A state of mixture

Payne, Richard. 2015. A state of mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian political culture in late antiquity. University of California Press.

Christian communities flourished during late antiquity in a Zoroastrian political system, as the Iranian Empire integrated culturally and geographically disparate territories from Arabia to Afghanistan into its institutions and networks. Whereas previous studies have regarded Christians as marginal, insular, and often persecuted participants in this empire, Richard Payne demonstrates their integration into elite networks, adoption of Iranian political practices and imaginaries, and participation in imperial institutions.

Richard Payne is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Near Eastern History at the University of Chicago

Women, Islam, and Abbasid identity

El Cheikh, Nadia Maria. 2015. Women, Islam, and Abbasid identity.
Harvard University Press.

When the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad dynasty in 750 CE, an important element in legitimizing their new-won authority involved defining themselves in the eyes of their Islamic subjects. Nadia Maria El Cheikh shows that ideas about women were central to the process by which the Abbasid Caliphate, which ushered in Islam’s Golden Age, achieved self-definition.

Studies on classical Persian poetry

Bürgel, Johann Christoph. 2013. Nachtigallen an Gottes Thron: Studien zur persischen Dichtung. Edited by Mehr Ali Newid and Peter-Arnold Mumm. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
To date, only a few pioneers have made classical Persian poetry and philosophy accessible to the occidental eye. During the 17th and 18th centuries, influential travellers brought goods, travelogues and translations back from Persia. Around 1800, enthusiasm for the oriental brought about more translations as well as more systematic research. In 1812, Joseph v. Hammer(-Purgstall) translated the Dīvān of Ḥāfeẓ. It is with him that Friedrich Rückert studied Persian and went on to set new standards in oriental philology and translation. Despite the tremendous contributions of the chairs in Iranian Studies which were subsequently founded in Europe, the wealth of Persian literature has hardly been exhausted.

Johann Christoph Bürgel was born in Silesia in 1931, received his doctorate in Göttingen in 1960 and was director of the Institute of Islamic Studies in Bern from 1970 to 1995. With his research method, characterised by scientific accuracy and a creative gift for language, he continued the tradition of Rückert and laid cornerstones for today’s Iranian Studies. He received numerous awards for his research as well as his translations.

This volume combines selected papers by distinguished orientalists from 1978 to 2008, dealing with Neẓāmī, ʿAṭṭār, Ḥāfeẓ, Rūmī, Sanāʾī and other Persian mystics and poets, as well as their European reception.

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The Kurdish Šāhnāma

Chaman Ara, Behrooz. The Kurdish Šāhnāma and Its Literary and Religious Implications. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

The Kurdish Shanama and its Literary and Religious Implications, as the result of a long-time fieldwork in the cultural spans of Zagros, focuses on the newly survived epic-heroic narratives known as Razm-nama, Jang-nama or Shanama. In this work, author draws attention to the existence of an unexpectedly rich epic-heroic tradition in literary Gurani (a composite idiom used in the Zagros regions) and strongly suggest that this tradition is largely independent of the Ferdowsi’s Shahnama but has many common features with other works of the Sistani cycle of epics and the Persian Naqqali tradition. This work addresses the structural and contextual similarities and differences between this tradition and its counterparts in Persian literature, and subsequently proposes a new understanding of the term Shahnama and the term Xwadaynamag. In this work, Chaman Ara, challenges the common understandings of the concept of Gurani, and presents analysis and descriptions of some linguistic features of the theory of Gurani literary language.
See here for the ToC and the Preface to this volume.
Behrooz Chaman Ara received his PhD in 2014 from the Institute of Iranian Studies of the Georg-August University of Göttingen. His research focuses on the Kurdish languages, literature and cultures.

From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean

Aslanian, Sebouh. 2014. From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The global trade networks of Armenian merchants from New Julfa. University of California Press.

Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, this study explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire. Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched from London and Amsterdam to Manila and Acapulco.

Sebouh David Aslanian is Assistant Professor of History and the Richard Hovannisian Term Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA.

Zoroastrianism: History, rituals, theology and tradition

Kreyenbroek, Philip G. 2013. Teachers and teachings in the Good Religion: Opera minora on Zoroastrianism (Göttinger Orientforschungen, Iranica, NF 10). Edited by Kianoosh Rezania. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

The volume edited by Kioanoosh Rezania brings together seventeen articles by Philip Kreyenbroek on the subject of Zoroastrianism. The collection represents the author’s most important short contributions on that subject, written over a period of more than 30 years. Although the papers are concerned with a range of different subjects, they are to some extent interconnected, and in several cases one may find lines of argument emerging in one article which the author develops in subsequent papers.
The papers cover six important aspects of Zoroastrianism: History; the Zoroastrian tradition and its oral transmission; Cosmology, Cosmogony and Eschatology; Priesthood; and Ritual. Topics discussed there include the history of the Zoroastrian tradition in various periods; the mainly oral nature of the Zoroastrian religious tradition until well into the Islamic period, and some of the implications of this for our understanding of that tradition; Kreyenbroek’s views and hypotheses on the nature and origin of the Indo-Iranian and Zoroastrian cosmogonies; the various developments in the structure of the priesthood, particularly during and after the Sasanian period; and lastly various questions concerning the Zoroastrian ritual, which are informed by the author’s extraordinary familiarity with the Zoroastrian ritual literature.

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