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The Avestan Priestly College and its Gods: The Indo-Iranian Origins of a Mimetic Tradition

Panaino, Antonio. 2022. Le collège sacerdotal avestique et ses dieux: Aux origines indo-iraniennes d’une tradition mimétique (Mythologica Indo-Iranica II) (Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Sciences Religieuses 195). Turnhout: Brepols.

In this monograph, the author proposes a general reflection on the metaphysics of the Zoroastrian priestly organization in the light of the Indo-Iranian context and starting from the preparation of the sacrifice and the installation of the seven assistant priests in the solemn Zoroastrian liturgy under the direction of their chief-priest, the zaōtar-. The relationship between priests and gods is analysed in the light of the symbolism endorsed by the priestly college, which is “activated” as a mimetic double of the divine world. Thus, names, functions and liturgical correspondences between the eight priests (seven plus the zaōtar-) and the college of Aməṣ̌a Spəṇtas headed by Ahura Mazdā himself (as zaōtar-) are discussed. On the other hand, the book analyses the functional correspondences of the activated priestly team in the Vedic field. The author also develops a discussion concerning the unbroken chain of sacrificial rituality as a structure of the cosmic and temporal order. Within this framework, he highlights the importance of the deinstallation or deactivation of the sacrificial college before the end of the Yasna in the long liturgy, a theme that is linked to the question of the reinstallation of another college in the unbroken chain of cosmic liturgy. This study also sheds light on the question of the purpose of the sacrifice and that of the bloody sacrifice. Finally, it proposes a return to Kerdīr through an analysis of the “vision” of the High Priest, this time explained as an esoteric liturgy of the encounter with the feminine double.

Table of Contents

PARTIE I : PRÉPARATION DU SACRIFICE ET INSTALLATION DU COLLÈGE SACERDOTAL

Chapitre premier. — Préparation du sacrifice et installation des sept prêtres : témoignages avestiques

PARTIE II : PRÊTRES ET DIEUX : SYMBOLISME DU COLLÈGE SACERDOTAL

Chapitre II. — Noms et fonctions des sept prêtres assistants
2.1. Considérations sur la disposition des assistants lors des cérémonies longues
2.2. Appendice 1 : Nērangestān 54-59
2.3. Appendice 2 : Nērangestān 60-61
2.4. Appendice 3 : disposition des prêtres selon le Nērangestān et le Visprad
2.5. Appendice 4 : symbolique de l’andarag

Chapitre III. — Les prêtres avestiques : traditions récentes

Chapitre IV. — Composition du collège sacerdotal gāθique et avestique récent à la lumière de la comparaison indo-iranienne : dieux et prêtres

Chapitre V. — Le collège sacerdotal et les Aməṣ̌a Spəṇtas
5.1. Appendice 5 : les autres listes de prêtres
5.2. Appendice 6 : avestique kauui-

PARTIE III : TEMPS RITUEL ET INTÉGRITÉ DE L’ORDRE COSMIQUE

Chapitre VI. — La chaîne ininterrompue de la liturgie du sacrifice
6.1. Réflexions sur le signifié de l’avestique ratu-

Chapitre VII. — Encore Y. 58 : désinstallation ou désengagement du collège sacerdotal ?
7.1. Appendice 7 : remarques sur le prêtre pasuuāzah-

PARTIE IV : KERDĪR ET SA LITURGIE OU DE LA MIMÊSIS RITUELLE

Chapitre VIII. — À propos de l’avestique ratu-, raθβiia-, du pehlevi rad, radīg, rāspīg et du moyen-perse épigraphique rehīg [lysyk]
8.1. Appendice 8 : les lysyk de Kerdīr

Chapitre IX. — Jouer avec les dieux, jouer comme un dieu : le prêtre sraōšāuuarəza

Conclusions 

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Books

Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes

Marlow, Louise. 2023. Medieval Muslim mirrors for princes: An anthology of Arabic, Persian and Turkish political advice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The ‘mirror for princes’ genre of literature offers advice to a ruler, or ruler-to-be, concerning the exercise of royal power and the wellbeing of the body politic. This anthology presents selections from the ‘mirror literature’ produced in the Islamic Early Middle Period (roughly the tenth to twelfth centuries CE), newly translated from the original Arabic and Persian, as well as a previously translated Turkish example. In these texts, authors advise on a host of political issues which remain compelling to our contemporary world: political legitimacy and the ruler’s responsibilities, the limits of the ruler’s power and the limits of the subjects’ duty of obedience, the maintenance of social stability, causes of unrest, licit and illicit uses of force, the functions of governmental offices and the status and rights of diverse social groups. Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes is a unique introduction to this important body of literature, showing how these texts reflect and respond to the circumstances and conditions of their era, and of ours.

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Books

Studies on the History of Rationality in Ancient Iran. Vol. 2

König, Götz. 2022. Studien zur Rationalitätsgeschichte im älteren Iran. Band II (Iranica 28). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

While the first volume of A History of Rationality in Ancient Iran aims both to determine the significance of ancient Iran within the framework of the theory of the Axial Age (German Achsenzeit) and to point to some of the basic figures of a history of rationality that can be recognised in the Iranian materials and still extends to the present day, the second volume shown here serves above all to extend this analysis of figures into thematic fields that are essential for the understanding of Iran.

In three sections – “Substance and Spirit”, “Explorations of the World. The Becoming of History”, “The Path to Truth” – a total of 16 texts are brought together which, on the one hand, outline basic constellations and concepts of thought, as they characterise the (older and younger) Avesta in particular, and, on the other hand, trace the movements which emanate from precisely these formations of thought.

The second volume is preceded, as it were, by a counterpoint to the discussion of the axial perspective in the first volume, by a critique of the historical-philosophical definition and classification of Iran and Zoroastrianism, as developed by Hegel in his various series of lectures and as it has since then sustainably guided the view of Iran in ancient studies.

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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.

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Books Journal

Sometimes Sasanian, Always Ēr

Gyselen, Rika (ed.). 2022. Sometimes Sasanian, Always Ēr (Res Orientales 29). Bures-sur-Yvette: Groupe pour l’Étude de la Civilisation du Moyen-Orient.

Volume 29 of the Res Orientales, edited by Rika Gyselen is now published. The preface to this volume is available online here.

Table of Contents:

Rika Gyselen: “Un objet insolite avec une inscription moyen-perse”

Mateusz M. P. Klagisz: “Bābāye Dehqān in Central Asian ethnography , and the literary and iconographic motif of the ploughman with two oxen in Sasanian times”

Yousef Moradi an d Almut Hintze: “The main administrative seal of the sanctuary of A.dur Gusnasp and some other sealings from Takt-e Solayman”

L’archive du Tabarestan (VIII° siècle de notre ère)

Dieter Weber: “Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan: The Documents Tab.16, 19, 20, 22bis and 25: A Philological Approach”

Maria Macuch: “Pahlavi Legal Docun1ents from Tabarestan: The Juristic Context of Tab.16, 19, 20, 22bis and 25”

Maria Macuch: “Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan: The Juristic Context of Tab.12 and 26”

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Books Journal

Sasanian Studies: Late Antique Iranian World

Farridnejad, Shervin & Touraj Daryaee (eds.). 2022. Sasanian studies: Late antique Iranian world | Sasanidische Studien: Spätantike iranische Welt. Vol. 1. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

The first issue of the Sasanian Studies: Late Antique Iranian World is now published. The Sasanian Studies is a refereed journal that publishes papers on any aspect of the Sasanian Empire and ist neighboring late antiquity civilizations. The journal welcomes essays on archaeology, art history, epigraphy, history, numismatics, religion and any other disciplines which focuses on the Sasanian world. This annual publication focuses especially on recent discoveries in the field, historiographical studies, as well as editions and translations of texts and inscriptions. We aim to facilitate dialogue and contact among scholars of Sasanian Studies around the world.

Table of Contents (PDF):

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Journal

Annales Islamologiques

The latest volume of Annales Islamologiques (vol. 54) is dedicated to the theme “acts of protection in Early Islamicate societies.” It includes a number of papers that fall in the scope of Iranian studies as well.

  • Said Huseini: Acts of Protection Represented in Bactrian Documents
  • Arezou Azad, Pejman Firoozbakhsh: “No One Can Give You Protection”. The Reversal of Protection in a Persian Decree Dated 562/1167
  • Dieter Weber: Living Together in Changing Iran. Pahlavi Documents on Arabs and Christians in Early Islamic Times
  • Etienne de La Vaissière: Sogdian Ḏimmī. Religious and Political Protection in Early 8th Century Central Asia

Papers are open-access and accessible (click here).

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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.

This article is now also available from the author’s page here.

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.

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Books

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.