Studia Iranica 49 (1)

The first issue of Studia Iranica 49 (2020) is out. For a table of contents and access to individual articles, see below or visit this page.

  • Antonio PANAINO & Franco MARTORELLO: The ‘Amphibology’ of the Time in Astrology: The King and the Rebel in Sasanian Astrological Literature
  • Bahman KARGAR, Ali BINANDEH & Behruz KHANMOHAMADI: Excavations at Tepe Qalaychi, a Mannaean Site in Western Azerbaijan, Iran
  • Cyrus NASROLLAHZADEH & Ebrahim QEZELBASH: Une inscription funéraire inédite en moyen-perse tardif (Dašt-e Rum, Yāsuj, Iran)
  • Leila KOOCHAKZADEH: La charte de l’Anjoman-e Ma’āref de 1901: Une source retrouvée de l’histoire de la reforme éducative en Iran
  • Alexandre KAZEROUNI: Ḥājj Ḥoseyn Āqā Malek (1871-1972), sa bibliothèque et son musée à Téhéran: Bourgeoisie marchande pieuse et espaces publics culturels en Iran
  • Comptes rendus

A Relative Chronology of Persian

Korn, Agnes. 2021. Contributions to a relative chronology of Persian: The non-change of postconsonantal y and w in Middle Persian in context. Indo-European Linguistics 1–43.

Old Persian shows a change of postconsonantal y, w to iy, uw, respectively. However, if one applies (pre-)Middle Persian sound changes to the Old Persian forms, the result is at variance with certain Middle Persian forms. If one were to assume a syncope reversing the Old Persian change of y, w to iy, uw, this would also affect old cases of iy, uw and likewise yield incorrect results for Middle Persian. The Old Persian change can thus not have operated in the prehistory of Middle Persian, and there is a dialectal difference between attested Old Persian and the later stages of the language, which is to be added to those already noted. The paper also discusses some sound changes that are connected to the Old Persian change in one way or the other. Cases in point are the processes called Epenthesis and Umlaut in previous scholarship, which this article suggests to interpret as occurring in different contexts and in different periods. The former is limited to Vry, which yields Vir and feeds into a monophthongisation that, as shown by some late Old Persian word forms, occurred within Achaemenid times, giving ēr and īr from ary and əry. Epenthesis did not occur in the prehistory of Parthian, whereas the monophthongisation did. The Appendix presents a tentative sequence of the processes discussed in this article, which is intended as a contribution to the relative chronology of Persian historical phonology.


Materials for a History of the Persian Narrative Tradition

Orsatti, Paola. 2019. Materials for a History of the Persian Narrative Tradition. Two Characters: Farhād and Turandot. Venezia: Ca’ Foscari.

This book gathers together two essays. The first deals with the origins of the character of Farhād, the unlucky lover of Shīrīn, who – in the Persian narrative tradition – digs a route through Mount Bīsutūn and accomplishes other admirable works. The essay suggests that Farhād, as we know him from long narrative poems, historical chronicles, and reports by geographers and travelers, is the issue of a conflation between the legendary character of the Master of Mount Bīsutūn and a historical personage, Farrahān, the general-in-chief of the Sasanid king Khusraw II Parvīz’s army (r. 590-628 EC), as this figure was re-elaborated in a number of later legends. 

The second essay identifies a character named ‘Būrān-dukht’ as the prototype from which Turandot, the heroine of the tale well-known in Europe from Puccini’s opera (1926), springs. Two historical personages, both called Būrān or Būrān-dukht, are relevant in this line of development: the first is the daughter of the Sasanid king Khusraw II Parvīz (r. 580-628 CE), who was queen of Persia for a short period (630-631 CE); the other is the daughter of Ḥasan b. Sahl, wife of Caliph al-Maʾmūn (813-833 CE).


Studies in Persian Language and Literature in Honour of Paola Orsatti

Maggi, Mauro, and Mohsen Ashtiany, eds. A turquoise coronet: Studies in Persian language and literature in honour of Paola Orsatti. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2021.

Paola Orsatti is currently professor at La Sapienza University in Rome. In the course of a long and distinguished academic career combined with an impressive record of dedicated teaching, she has made significant contributions to the study of classical Persian poetry, its connections with pre-Islamic traditions, the history of the Persian language, and Islamic manuscripts. Along with a profile of the dedicatee and a comprehensive bibliography of her publications up to 2019, the volume contains eighteen papers by her colleagues, friends, and former students to celebrate her 65th birthday. The papers mirror her diverse research interests. They deal with a variety of themes relating to Persian literature from Middle Persian texts to twentieth-century poetry—approached philologically, historically, and critically—as well as to the history of Middle and New Persian and the dialects of Iran, and include significant Persian literary texts translated and edited for the first time in this volume.


An Iranian Vision of the Afterlife

Kłagisz, Mateusz M. 2020. An Iranian vision of the afterlife according to the Middle Persian “Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag.” ARAM Periodical 32 (Afterlife in the Ancient Near East). 421–461.

Detail from a Persian Zoroastrain Ardā Vīrāf-Nāme, 1789

This paper (re-)discusses the otherworld journey of the pious Zoroastrian clergyman Wīrāz, the subject of the Middle Persian opus entitled Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag (Book of Pious Wīrāz). The paper consists of 15 chapters. It begins by discussing the issue of the afterlife (Chapter 0); Chapter 1 provides general information regarding the text. In Chapter 2 the protagonist’s name and sobriquet are discussed. Chapter 3 considers the reasons for undertaking the journey. Chapter 4 presents the questions that need to be answered by Wīrāz. Chapter 5 considers relations between the protagonist and his community, followed by the myth of paradise lost (Chapter 6), the protagonist’s trial (Chapter 7), and preparations for the journey (Chapter 8). The author also discusses the dream visions themselves (Chapter 9), including the psychoactive drug used by the protagonist (Chapter 1 0), and the various afterlife locations, which Wīrāz visits (Chapters 11-16). Chapter 17 considers the nature of sin and retribution, as presented in the text, and in Chapter 18 the author discusses the end of the protagonist’s journey, before considering the journey as a whole as a rite of passage (Chapter 19), in relation to Grofs cartography of the psyche (Chapter 20).


Estudios Iranios y Turanios (Vol. 4)

Estudios Iranios y Turanios, Vol. 4, 2020.Estudios Iranios y Turanios, Vol. 4, 2020. has now been published. The whole issue is dedicated to the Avestan and Middle Persian Studies.

  • Alberto Cantera: “A brief note on the possibilities and limitations involved in reconstructing the historical performances of the Avestan liturgies: the case of the Dō-Hōmāst”
  • Saloumeh Gholami: “The collection of Avestan manuscripts of the Ataš Varahrām in Yazd”
  • Jean Kellens: “Pourquoi comprenons-nous si mal les Gâthâs? Keynote lecture au 9e colloque de la Societas Iranologica Europaea”
  • Götz König: “Notizen zum Xorde Avesta IV: Zur Textkomposition und -tradition des Ātaš Niyāyišn und zu dessen ritueller Performanz als Kurze Liturgie”
  • Éric Pirart: “Pour de nouveaux fragments avestiques: la généalogie de Zaraϑuštra”
  • Kianoosh Rezania: “A Suggestion for the Transliteration of Middle Persian Texts in Zoroastrian Middle Persian: Digital Corpus and Dictionary (MPCD): A Three Layered Transliteration System”

Sources of Indo-Iranian Liturgies

Redard, Céline, Juanjo Ferrer-Losilla, Hamid Moein & Philippe Swennen  (eds.). 2020. Aux sources des liturgies indo-iraniennes (Collection Religion 10). Liège: Presses universitaires de l’Université de Liège.

The volume is the proceeding of the international colloquium entitled Aux sources des liturgies indo-iraniennes, which was held on 9 and 10 June 2016 at the University of Liège.

Table of Contents

  • Philippe Swennen: “Introduction”
  • Joanna Jurewicz: “The God who fights with the Snake and Agni”
  • Toshifumi Gotō: “Bergung des gesunkenen Sonnenlichts im Rigveda und Avesta
  • Kyoko Amano: “What is ‘Knowledge’ Justifying a Ritual Action? Uses of yá eváṁ véda / yá eváṁ vidvā́n in the Maitrāyaṇī Sam̐hitā”
  • Naoko Nishimura: “On the first mantra section of the Yajurveda-Sam̐hitā: Preparation for milking, or grazing of cows?”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Archéologie d’un mantra védique”
  • Éric Pirart: “L’idée d’hospitalité”
  • Antonio Panaino: “aētāsә.tē ātarә zaoϑrā. On the Mazdean Animal and Symbolic Sacrifices: Their Problems, Timing and Restrictions”
  • Jean Kellens: “ahu, mainiiu, ratu
  • Eijirō Dōyama: “Reflections on YH 40.1 from the Perspective of Indo-Iranian Culture”
  • Alberto Cantera: “Litanies and rituals. The structure and position of the Long Liturgy within the Zoroastrian ritual system”
  • Céline Redard: “Les Āfrīnagāns: une diversité rituelle étonnante”
  • Götz König: “Daēnā and Xratu. Some considerations on Alberto Cantera’s essay Talking with god
  • Juanjo Ferrer-Losilla: “Les alphabets avestiques et leur récitation dans les rituels zoroastriens: innovation ou archaïsme”
  • Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo: “Socio-religious Division in the Indo-Iranian Investiture with the Sacred Girdle”
  • Hamid Moein: “Some remarks about the Zoroastrian ceremony of cutting a new kusti according to two Persian Rivāyat manuscripts and two of the oldest Avestan manuscripts”

Moses and Garšāsp

Ehsani Chombeli, Azadeh. 2020. Moses and Garšāsp, Ardašīr and Herod: Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud in their Iranian context (Zoroastrian Studies Series 5). Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers.

This book offers a comparative study between a number of Talmudic and Middle Persian narratives. The present work seeks first and foremost to examine Talmudic narratives in their Iranian context, and secondly to examine the Talmudic background of Iranian narratives where applicable.
The first and second chapters will offer an analysis of the alteration of historical and Biblical figures in the Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud) based on the influence of Iranian mythical and historical figures, while the third chapter will provide an account of how Iranists can learn from Talmudic studies. Here we suggest that a Talmudic narrative may have encouraged Zoroastrian priests to compose an extensive work of religious literature, namely the Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag, an idea which will be further explored in the appendix.

Azadeh Ehsani has a PhD in religion from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada (2018) and an MA in ancient languages and culture of Iran with a focus on Middle Persian (Pahlavi) from Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies University in Tehran, Iran (2005).


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.


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.