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.


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.



Albino, Marcos. 2019. Mittelpersisch namāz ,Ehrerweisung‘. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 73(1). 7–15.

The word namāz “reverence” is first attested in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian (namāž). It is survived in New Persian namāz originally denotes a respectful adressing to a socially superior person or to God.


Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity

Zeini, Arash. 2020. Zoroastrian scholasticism in late antiquity. The Pahlavi version of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

In late antiquity, Zoroastrian exegetes set out to translate their ancient canonical texts into Middle Persian, the vernacular of their time. Although undated, these translations, commonly known as the Zand, are often associated with the Sasanian era (224–651 ce). Despite the many challenges the Zand offers to us today, it is indispensable for investigations of late antique exegesis of the Avesta, a collection of religious and ritual texts commonly regarded as the Zoroastrians’ scripture.

Arash Zeini also offers a fresh edition of the Middle Persian version of the Avestan Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, a ritual text composed in the Old Iranian language of Avestan, commonly dated to the middle of the second millennium bce. Zeini challenges the view that considers the Zand’s study an auxiliary science to Avestan studies, framing the text instead within the exegetical context from which it emerged.


Three Zoroastrian Pahlavi Texts

Kolesnikov, Aliy Ivanovich. 2019. The holy books of Zoroastrianism: Transliteration, transcription, commentary and translation of three Pahlavi texts (Classics of Russian Oriental Studies). St. Petersburg: Nauka.

This volume includes a commentary and translation of three Middle Persian texts. The first is the Fifth book of Dēnkard, part of a compendium of Zoroastrian religious knowledge from the Sassanian Iran, compiled in the IX-X centuries according to the earlier sources. The Book V contains a short account of human history up to the time of Zoroaster. The second text is a fragment from the Fourth Book of Dēnkard, which sets out the history of the preservation of Zoroastrian liturgical books in ancient Iran under the auspices role of the Persian kings in the defense of Zoroastrianism, beginning with Darius III (336-31 BCE) and ending with Xosrō I (590-628 CE). The third text is called Ardā Wirāz-Nāmag “the Book of the Righteous Wirāz”, compiled at the early Islamic time, dating back to the Sasanian era. The translation of this literary monument into Russian is accompanied by extensive commentaries.

In Original:

Колесниковым, Алий Иванович. 2019. Священные книги зороастризма. Транслитерация, транскрипция, комментированный перевод трех пехлевийских текстов (Классика отечественного востоковедения). СПб.: Наука.