Zoroastrian Holy Marriage

Pirart, Éric. 2023. Hiérogamie mazdéenne. Présentation, texte, traduction et commentaire des deux dernières Gāϑā et de leurs annexes (uniés 51, 52, 53 et 54 du Yasna) (Supplementa 2). Girona: Sociedad de estudios iranios y turanios (SEIT).

In a radical departure from the method of Jean Kellens, which is both intuitive and reserved, Éric Pirart, with Hiérogamie mazdéenne (Mazdean Hierogamy), revisits the last archaic texts of Zoroastrianism and their appendices (Yasna 51-54), while ensuring that nothing is left untranslated or without grammatical explanation and that the etymology of all the words is examined on the basis of systematic criteria. In these texts, contemporary with the prophet Zaraϑustra, he looks for the features that differentiate them from the rest of Zoroastrian literature.

Table of Contents

  • Abréviations et symboles
  • Avant-propos
  • Chapitre I. La Vohuxšarϑrā Gāϑā
  • Chapitre II. La Vaŋhucā Hāiti
  • Chapitre III. La Vaŋhištōišti Gāϑā
  • Chapitre IV L’Airiiaman Išiia
  • Marginale I. Le Yātu Āxtiia
  • Marginale II. Le zand d’āžuš
  • Marginale III. Le sexe de Vénus
  • Marginale IV. Haōma est là
  • Lexique

Notes on the Xorde Avesta V

König, Götz. 2023. Notizen zum Xorde Avesta V: Das Avesta-Pahlavi Ms. T12 betrachtet im Rahmen der historischen Veränderungen des Xorde Avesta. Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology 1(2). 1–32.

Das „Xorde Avesta“ ist eine (in Handschriften und Drucken überlieferte) Sammlung von (größtenteils) kürzeren liturgischen Texten in avestischer Sprache (sowie in persischen und in indischen Sprachen) auf der Grundlage einer sie charakterisierenden, allgemein verbindlichen Struktur folgt. Diese Struktur zeigt typische Variationsmuster gemäß Klasse, Zeit und Ort der Handschrift. Im Rahmen von allgemeiner Struktur und partikularem Muster finden sich wiederum individuelle Differenzen in Material und in dessen Anordnung, die dafür verantwortlich sind, daß Xorde Avesta Handschriften fast immer Unikate sind (und vermutlich darum auch niemals im Rahmen der Hypothese der ‘Stammhandschriften’ diskutiert wurden). Die Hs. T12 aus der Mitte des 16. Jh. gehört zu jenen Handschriften des Xorde Avesta, die für unsere Rekonstruktion der Geschichte einer bestimmten Handschriftenklasse eine herausragende Position besitzen. Sie bildet zudem eine Schnittstelle von frühem iranischen Xorde Avesta (in Pahlavi) und der indischen Tradition, in die die Handschrift (wieder?) eingeführt wird.


Social History of Zoroastrians of Yazd

Tašakorī, ʿAlī-ʾAkbar. 2020. tārīḫ-e ejtemāʿī-ye zartoštīyān-e yazd [Social History of Zoroastrians of Yazd]. 3 vols. Irvine: Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California.

Ali Akbar Tashakori’s three-volume Social History of Zoroastrians of Yazd (in Persian) deals with the social history of the Yazdi Zoroastrians from the medieval to modern times. While the focus is primarily on the Yazdi community, the work also covers the wider history of Iranian Zoroastrians. The book examines the challenges faced by Zoroastrians in the medieval and early modern periods, as well as the beginning of the nineteenth century social and intellectual empowerment among Iranian Zoroastrians supported by the Parsis of India. It also highlights the growing political and economic influence of the community in the late Qajar and early Pahlavi era, as well as the remarkable role of the Pahlavis in elevating the status of Zoroastrians within Iranian society as a whole.

The first volume covers the lives of Zoroastrians of Yazd starting with the arrival of Islam in Iran, in 641 AD, until the formation of the Anǧoman-e Nāṣerī of Yazd in 1892 AD. This book discusses the treatment of Zoroastrians under the new Muslim rulers who regarded them as monotheists and “people-of-the-book”. It highlights two massive internal migrations to the Yazd region elevating its status as the center of Zoroastrianism. It also focuses on the formation of Anǧoman-e Akāber-Ṣāheb by Parsis and their efforts to abolish the Jazzieh tax and improve Zoroastrians’ lives. 

The second volume covers the formation of Anǧoman-e Nāṣerī by Keykhosro Khān-Ṣāheb in 1892 AD until the beginning of Pahlavi dynasty in 1924 AD.

This third volume covers the period that starts with the rise of Reza Shah and the formation of a secular government, which relied heavily on the pre-Islamic image of Iran, something which had a direct influence on promoting the social status of Zoroastrians. This volume focuses on the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah and the modernization of Iran, two elements with a profound influence on the lives of Zoroastrians of the Yazd region.


Studia Iranica, vol. 50

Volume 50 of Studia Iranica (2021) is out in two issues. For a table of contents of individual issues, see below.

Volume 50, issue 1:

  • Michał MARCIAK, Robert S. WÓJCIKOWSKI, Daniele MORANDI BONACOSSI & Marcin SOBIECH: The Battle of Gaugamela in the Navkur Plain in the Context of the Madedonian and Persian Art of Warfare
  • Meysam LABBAF-KHANIKI: The Sasanian Stuccoes of Notheastern Iran Khorasanian Imagery in Late Antiquity
  • Rika GYSELEN, Samra AZARNOUCHE & Mohammad-Ali AMIR-MOEZZI: Une ‘traduction’ moyen-perse du verset du Coran 5:8 sur un poids d’époque omeyyade
  • Maryam NOURZAEI & Thomas JÜGEL: The Distribution and Function of Person-Marking Clitics in Balochi Dialects from an Areal Perspective
  • Compte rendu

Volume 50, issue 2:

  • Nikolaus SCHINDEL: The Legends of Göbl, MK 1029 and their Potential Relevance to Kushano-Sasanian History
  • Moḥsen DĀNĀ, Samra AZARNOUCHE & Moḥammad Reżā SOROUSH: Tessons de poterie inscrits en parthe et en moyen-perse Nouveaux spécimens provenant du Khorāsān méridional
  • Alberto CANTERA: Avestan Texts in Context (3) On Avestan uštā.bərəiti and vaṇta.bərəiti-
  • Mohammad-Ali AMIR-MOEZZI: Azartash Azarnoosh (Téhéran 1938-2021)
  • Ali MOUSAVI: Firouz Bagherzadeh (Tabriz 1930 – Paris 2021)
  • Comptes rendus
  • Table alphabétique des noms d’auteur
  • Table alphabétique des matières

A Swedish translation of the Gathas

Dahlén, Ashk. 2023. Zarathustra. Sånger: Den äldsta iranska diktningen. Umeå: h:ström – Text & Kultur.

Zarathustra pursued a life as a poet, priest, and spiritual teacher in northeastern Iran about 3,500 years ago, several centuries before the Vedic poets and Homer. He is thus the earliest known writer in any Indo-European language. That his poems can be read in the condition in which they were sung and speak directly to us through the millennia must be considered a veritable miracle.

The Gathas is a hymn in praise of timeless wisdom and with its aphoristic exposition the work resembles a didactic philosophical poem. Zarathustra wants to present a true picture of reality, of the imperishable archetypes of the world of thought as well as of the role of the individual in the material world. More than anything else, he urges us to value our free will, to listen to the voice of our conscience and contribute to the good renewal of the world.

In this translation, the Old Avestan literature is presented for the first time in Swedish in direct translation by Ashk Dahlén, docent of Iranian languages at Uppsala University, who also has provided the book with an introductory preface as well as comments, and a glossary.

Table of contents:

  • Förord
  • Upptakt
  • Fyra mantran
  • Sånger
  • Livets sång
  • Glädjens sång
  • Det livgivande medvetandets sång
  • Den goda kraftens sång
  • De mest älskandes sång
  • Hyllning i sju delar
  • Appendix
  • Kommentarer
  • Ordförklaringar
  • Stavning och uttal av avestiska ord
  • Avestiska beteckningar
  • Litteraturförteckning

Chapters 11–12 of the Škand Gumānīg-Wizār

Sahner, Christian C. 2023. The definitive Zoroastrian critique of Islam. Chapters 11–12 of the Škand Gumānīg-Wizār by Mardānfarrox son of Ohrmazddād (Translated Texts for Historians). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Zoroastrianism was the religion of the ancient Persian kings and following the Arab conquest, it remained the religion of a significant portion of the population in Iran and parts of Central Asia. This book investigates the most important polemical treatise in the Zoroastrian tradition, the Škand Gumānīg-Wizār (“The Doubt-Dispelling Disquisition”), which was written by the theologian and philosopher Mardānfarrox son of Ohrmazddād. The text was composed in the ninth or tenth centuries in a language known as Middle Persian.

A sophisticated work of rationalist theology, the Škand Gumānīg-Wizār systematically critiques several rival religions of the late antique and early medieval Middle East, including Islam. The critique of Islam found in chapters 11 and 12 is the only sustained, systematic polemic against Islam in premodern Zoroastrian literature, one that attacks monotheism by focusing on the problem of evil. The text is of fundamental importance for understanding Iran’s transformation from a predominantly Zoroastrian society to a predominantly Muslim one during the Early Middle Ages.

This is the first book devoted to the Islamic sections of the Škand Gumānīg-Wizār. It provides a new translation and commentary of these important sections along with introductory chapters that explore Zoroastrians’ relationship with other religions in Late Antiquity and the early Islamic period; Mardānfarrox’s intellectual milieu (especially the influence of Islamic theology and interreligious debates); and the history of Zoroastrian polemics against Islam.

About this book

Revisiting the Eastern Contributions to Early Greek Philosophy

Lupascu, Constantin C. 2023. Barbarians No More. Revisiting the Eastern Contributions to Early Greek Philosophy. MEΘEXIS: Journal of Research in Values and Spirituality 3 (1), 99-137.

We often assume that our present world alone has experienced the phenomenon of globalization and that it is necessarily a feature of the modern age. And in this we like to imagine the world of the past as made up of homogeneous monolithic blocks with rigid and well-defined impenetrable boundaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ancient world enjoyed an interconnectedness as tight if not tighter than ours is today. Nowhere do we see this connection better than between the Greek and the Persian world. The conflict between the two serves as the starting point of the archetypal conflict between the Orient and the Occident. However, at the same time, Persian culture served as a foundation for Greek moral philosophy and by extension, had a major influence on later Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophy. The transition from mythological to philosophical knowledge occurs in Greek thought when it encounters these Magi. In this regard, we shall see that Plato had a special relationship with the Magi, and the Magi in turn held Plato in high regard. However, Plato’s example is by no means an isolated case. We have other equally famous examples of Greek philosophers who we are told went to study in Persia before Plato, namely Pythagoras and Democritus.

Events Online resources

The 9th Ratanbai Katrak Lectures

Prof. Dr. Alberto Cantera (Freie Universität Berlin) will deliver the 9th Ratanbai Katrak Lectures 101 years after the inauguration of the Ratanbai Katrak Lecturership at the University of Oxford.

Convened by Prof. Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina for the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

‘With which Yasna shall I worship you (kana θβąm yasna yazāne)?
Zoroastrian Rituals in the Antique and Late Antique Iranian world’

Please use this link to attend the lectures on Zoom.

Lecture 1: Manuscripts and Rituals: The Written Transmission of the Zoroastrian Rituals
11 May 2023, 5:30pm – 7:00pm; Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford OX2 6UD

Lecture 2: The Questioned Antiquity of the Zoroastrian Rituals: Their Reception in Western Academia
18 May 2023, 5:30pm – 7:00pm; Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford OX2 6UD

Lecture 3: The Ritual System: Modularity and Productivity
25 May 2023, 5:30pm – 7:00pm; Ertegun House, 37A St. Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LD


On the office of hu-dēnān pēšōbāy

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2023. On the concept of leadership and the office of Leader of the Zoroastrians (hu-dēnān pēšōbāy) in Abbasid Zoroastrianism. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 1–36.

Like many other religions, Zoroastrianism frequently restructured its priestly organization during its long history, largely because of the environmental changes to which it was exposed. A major shift in status – from being the state religion in the Sasanian Empire to holding only a minor position in the early Islamic period – challenged the Zoroastrian hierarchy of authority. The Abbasid state provided Zoroastrianism with an opportunity to initiate a new office, which was called hu-dēnān pēšōbāy “Leader of the Zoroastrians”. This article is the first to deal with this office in detail and scrutinizes the concept of leadership (pēšōbāyīh) in Sasanian and Abbasid Zoroastrianism. It sheds some light on the priestly structure of Zoroastrianism in this period and investigates the position of the office within the overall religious organization. It re-examines, moreover, evidence for the officiating Zoroastrian theologians in this office at the Abbasid court in Baghdad. Finally, it searches for the parallels between this office and that of the East-Syrian catholicos and the Jewish exilarch.

Abstract from FirstView

Orality and Textuality in Zoroastrianism

The Circle for Late Antique and Medieval Studies presents a discussion with Professors Almut Hintze, Martin Schwartz and Peter Jackson Rova on the oral traditions in Zoroastrianism. The panel discussion is online and open to the public. The website is here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023; 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm

You can register via Zoom.

How should we conceive of Prophet Zoroaster? What was the context in which he lived and composed the Gathas of Zoroaster? Do they provide a unique window into oral composition and transmission of tradition(s)? Can the early poetry attributed to Zoroaster teach us something about the cryptic techniques of Indo-European poetry and the beginnings of Greek philosophy? How did orality sustain the Zoroastrian community through millennia?

From the website