Categories
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

Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival

Kestenberg Amighi, Jaenet. 2022. Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival. First. Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers.

Zoroastrianism is both an ancient and still practiced religion. At its height it was the state religion of the Sasanian empire (224 to 651 AD) that ruled in the land of Persia. Arab conquest of the area destroyed that empire and a multitude eventually converted to Islam. Under Islamic rule Zoroastrians lived under severe restrictions, persecution while paying burdensome taxes. Many converted to Islam to escape these conditions and so Zoroastrian numbers dwindled. By 1850 no more than 8000 lived in their original homeland. Those who survived did see some periods of prosperity and eventually thrived under the secularizing rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-41) and his son (1941-79) who promoted an Iranian nationalism that embraced the Zoroastrian heritage. The main challenge to Zoroastrian persistence was the increasing secularism of society. With the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again the nation’s Zoroastrians found themselves subject to myriad discriminations, even their touch deemed polluting. Islam permeated Iran to a degree not seen before. The present work offers a unique socio-political history of the challenges faced by the Zoroastrian community from the 19th to 21st centuries as they confronted and adapted to the dramatic changes before them. The author, Anthropologist Janet Kestenberg Amighi lived and researched among her Zoroastrian in-laws in Iran from 1971-1978 and subsequently visited post-revolutionary Iran several times. This work is based on scholarly research as well as over 120 interviews with Zoroastrians, amusing personal experiences and the knowledge and experiences of her collaborator Bahman Moradian, an Iranian Zoroastrian scholar and community activist. Their collaboration provides varied insights and analyses of the socio-cultural and political change we see happening over the decades. The diverse Zoroastrian community perspectives are well represented.

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Books Online resources

The Multimedia Yasna

The interactive film of the Performance of the High Zoroastrian Ceremony of Yasna

Open Access to the full film of the performance of the most solemn Zoroastrian ceremony the standard Yasna with the dedicatory of Mīnō Nāwar (the version edited by Geldner), the film is prepared in the frame of the multi-disciplinary Multimedia Yasna project (MuYa), based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council (ERC) with an Advanced Investigator Grant (2016-2022), which had as its focus the Yasna – the core ritual of the Zoroastrian religion:

“You can watch the film at different speeds by moving the dot on the speed line below the Chapter and Stanza & Subsection tabs. The recording of this film was made in November 2017 at the Dadar Athornan Institute in Mumbai. The two priests, who performed the ceremony are the late Ervad Asphandiarji Dadachanji and Ervad Adil Bhesania.”

The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA)

The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA) examines the performance and written transmission of the core ritual of the Zoroastrian tradition, the Yasna, whose oldest parts date from the second millennium BCE. Composed in an ancient Iranian language, Avestan, the texts were transmitted orally and not written down until the fifth or sixth century CE. The oral tradition continues to be central to the religion, and the daily Yasna ceremony, the most important of all the rituals, is recited from memory by Zoroastrian priests. The interpretation of the Yasna has long been hampered by out-dated editions and translations of the text and until now there has been no documentation and study of the performance of the full ritual. The project MUYA examines both the oral and written traditions. It has filmed a performance of the Yasna ritual and created a critical edition of the recitation text examining the Yasna both as a performance and as a text attested in manuscripts. The two approaches have been integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective.

Combining models and methodologies from digital humanities, philology and linguistics, the project has produced a subtitled, interactive film of the Yasna ritual, an online platform of transcribed manuscripts, editorial tools, digital transcriptions of manuscripts and digital editions with a text-critical apparatus, and with print editions, translations and commentaries of the Yasna. Information which was formerly restricted to students of Iranian philology and practising Zoroastrians has now become accessible to a world-wide audience through digital humanities. The project, based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council, ran from October 2016 to September 2022. It was headed by Professor Almut Hintze and included an international team of researchers in the UK, Germany, India and Iran.

Categories
Books

Culinary and Dining Practices in the Greater Iranian World

Farridnejad, Shervin, and Touraj Daryaee (eds). 2022. Food for gods, food for mortals. Culinary and dining practices in the greater Iranian world. University of California, Irvine.

Preparing, serving, and consuming food can be political, as it was arranged in the royal banquet of the great kings. It could also be considered as a ritual, both in the frame of the greater ritual practices in the banquets for the gods, as well as according to a set of family costumes and gestures, which endures from one generation to the next. All these aspects have been one of the major human’s activates during the history of the civilizations and have fascinated the scholars to investigate and decode the culinary customs of the peoples during the history. The contributions of this volume present a small collection of writings, which put focus on various aspects of culinary and dining practices in the Greater Iranian World from the ancient period to the contemporary religious feast of Sufi Orders in the Balkans. They aim to overview the recent developments in the field and discuss selected aspects of the rich variety of culinary practices.

Categories
Articles

Eating Meat: The Sin of Zoroastrian Primordial Heroes and Villains

Daryaee, Touraj. 2022. Eating meat: The sin of Zoroastrian primordial heroes and villains. In Caseau, Béatrice and Hervé Monchot (eds .), Religion et interdits alimentaires. Archéozoologie et sources littéraires (Orient & Méditerranée 38), 237–242. Leuven: Peeters.

This article dicusses the significance of meat consupmtion in Iranian mythology and the Zoroastrian tradition. The idea of meat consuption appeares in the earliest remains of the Iranian poetic tradition, namely the Gāthās of zarathustra. In these hymns there is a referenc to the premoridal culture hero, Yima /Jamšid who introduced the consumption of eating meat. However, by the time of the Zoroastrian commentators in late antiquity, Yma is absolved of the sin, and the Villain Aži Dahaka / Zohhak, is blamed for turning canibal, tricked by Ahreman, the evil spirit in the Zoroastrain tradition.

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Books

The Reward of the Righteous. Festschrift in Honour of Almut Hintze

Cantera, Alberto, Maria Macuch, and Nicholas Sims-Williams (eds.). 2022. The reward of the righteouse. Festschrift in honour of Almut Hintze (Iranica 30). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

The volume is dedicated to one of the foremost scholars in the field of Zoroastrian and Iranian Studies, reflecting the broad range of scholarly interests and research work of the dedicatee. In addition to an appreciation of Almut Hintze’s work and a bibliography of her publications, the volume contains thirty-four contributions written by renowned specialists in their fields. These cover a wide range of topics, stretching from antiquity to the present, and offer many new insights and original perspectives on religious, linguistic and historical problems. The articles, which include many editions of previously unpublished texts, encompass studies on (1) The oldest Zoroastrian textual sources (A. Ahmadi; J. Kellens; A. Panaino; M. Schwartz); (2) The Zoroastrian ritual (A. Cantera; E. Filippone; F. Kotwal; J. Martínez Porro; C. Redard; Y. Vevaina); (3) Avestan manuscripts (G. König); (4) Zoroastrianism in the Middle Iranian and Islamic periods (Sh. Farridnejad; Sh. Shaked); (5) Pahlavi texts, documents and inscriptions (J. Choksy/M.U. Hasan; J. Josephson; M. Macuch; D. Weber); (6) Zoroastrian and Manichaean iconography (F. Grenet/M. Minardi; Y. Yoshida); (7) Manichaean texts in Middle Iranian languages (A. Benkato; I. Colditz; E. Morano/M. Shokri-Foumeshi/N. Sims-Williams; N. Sims-Williams/Bi Bo); (8) Iranian philology (M.A. Andrés-Toledo; Ph. Huyse; E. Jeremiás; P. Lurje; M. Maggi; É. Pirart; A. Rossi); (9) Historical and cultural studies (C. Cereti; J. Palsetia; J. Rose; A. Williams).

Categories
Events

Summer Course in Zoroastrian Studies

The University of Bergen (Norway) and the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS, are jointly offering international students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of Zoroastrianism in modern and contemporary Iran.

The course will take place in Rome, starting 20 June 2022, and the deadline for applications is 27 March 2022. The instructors are Prof. Michael Stausberg (Univ. of Bergen), Dr Sarah Stewart (SOAS) and Dr Jenny Rose (Claremont University). You can find more information by visitng the summer school’s website.

Categories
Articles

The Image of the Zoroastrian God Srōsh

Grenet, Frantz & Michele Minardi. 2021. The image of the Zoroastrian god Srōsh: New elements. Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 27, 154-173.

Sogdian ossuary from Samarkand, ca. 7th century AD photo: F. Grenet

This paper presents new and decisive evidence relative to the identification of one of the colossal depictions of deities discovered by the Karakalpak-Australian Expedition (KAE) at Akchakhan-kala with the Avestan yazata Sraosha. Besides the therianthropic Sraošāvarez, the explicit Zoroastrian symbol that decorates the tunic of this god, new iconographic details are seen. One is the sraošō.caranā, which is a whip, “the instrument of Srōsh”, held in the hands of one of these “bird-priests” instead of the customary barsom. The symbols are presented and discussed in their historical context.

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Books

Narrating power and authority in late antique and medieval hagiography

Dabiri, Ghazzal (ed.). 2021. Narrating power and authority in late antique and medieval hagiography across East and West. Turnhout: Brepols.

This collection of essays explores the multifaceted representation of power and authority in a variety of late antique and medieval hagiographical narratives (Lives, Martyr Acts, oneiric and miraculous accounts). The narratives under analysis, written in some of the major languages of the Islamicate world and the Christian East and Christian West — Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Latin, Middle Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Persian — prominently feature a diverse range of historical and fictional figures from a wide cross-section of society — from female lay saints in Italy and Zoroastrians in Sasanian and Islamic Iran to apostles and bishops and emperors and caliphs. Each chapter investigates how power and authority were narrated from above (courts/saints) and below (saints/laity) and, by extension, navigated in various communities. As each chapter delves into the specific literary and social scene of a particular time, place, or hagiographer, the volume as a whole offers a broad view; it brings to the fore important shared literary and social historical aspects such as the possible itineraries of popular narratives and motifs across Eurasia and commonly held notions in the religio-political thought worlds of hagiographers and their communities. Through close readings and varied analyses, this collection contributes to the burgeoning interest in reading hagiography as literature while it offers new perspectives on the social and religious history of late antique and medieval communities.

Categories
Events

How Did the Ancient Iranians Coordinate Space?

Kianoosh Rezania: “How Did the Ancient Iranians Coordinate Space? On the Old Iranian Absolute Frame of Reference”

Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series

For verbal expression and nonverbal cognitive processing of spatial relations between two objects, the speakers of a language use different frames of reference. (Psycho)linguistics classifies these into three main groups: intrinsic, relative, and absolute. This lecture aims to identify the old Iranian absolute frame of reference. After a short explanation of different frames of reference, the presentation will examine four sorts of evidence to this end: Avestan and Old Persian textual testimonies, the direction of Zoroastrian ritual in the Old Iranian period, and the direction of some significant Achaemenid architectural constructions. The lecture will show that the ancient Iranians did not use the four geocentric cardinal points of east, west, south and north as the cardinal directions of their absolute frame of reference, as research has implicitly taken for granted so far. The evidence, conversely, suggests that the old Iranian absolute frame of reference was constituted by the sunrise and sunset points of the winter and summer solstices.

Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series

Date: February 23; Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm