Legends and stories about fabulous races that dwelt in India or in Africa circulated in Iran probably since the Achaemenid times. Unfortunately, scholarship on this topic has neglected some late Iranian and, especially, Zoroastrian sources, such as Draxt ī āsūrīg (The Assyrian tree), the Bundahišn (Primal Creation), the Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg (The memorial of Jāmāsp), and the New Persian epic Šāhnāme. This article examines the aforementioned sources and discusses their accounts of five fabulous races from an Iranian, and especially Zoroastrian, perspective and through a comparative approach to some similar neighboring traditions.
This article is also available from the author’s academia page.
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.
Volume 14 of Studia Litteraria Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis, an special issue in Honour of Professor Anna Krasnowolska, has been published, and the articles seem to be freely available at the above link. The issue contains a number of relevant and interesting articles among which one relates to Zoroastrianism:
The article reflects on the idea of both calendric time and its material supports used by the Zoroastrians of Iran in reference to the identity of the group. The qualitative analysis of the data collected during the fieldwork among the Zoroastrian community has shown that a distinctive time-reckoning system plays the role of an important marker that strengthens the community’s Zoroastrian identity in the face of Muslim domination. In the post-Revolutionary Iran, the calendar is one of the key pillars of the Zoroastrians’ collective self-awareness—both as an idea of a specific time-reckoning system designating ritual activities, and as a material subject that acts as a medium to promote specific values and ideas.
A reasonable method through which to approach the reconstruction of religious phenomena in Iran would be to view the phenomena involved from this double perspective involving vertical and horizontal relationships. Defining the perennial and the changing elements, kernels and agglomerations, etc., would surely be helpful in this respect. So too would the drawing up of chronologies related to the history of religious ideas in Iran. The idea of an apocalypse – and this idea is, as we shall see, essentially the idea of the end of the world in fire – is a good example upon which to base a historical analysis located in the aforementioned double bipolar field: Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism; Avesta and late antique religious text.
This article as well as the whole volume are open access, available for free download.
The Roman Mithras cult is one of the so-called “oriental cults” that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Although ancient tradition regards it as a Persian cult, Franz Cumont (the “father of modem Mithraic-study”), and many scholars have been convinced of its Iranian origin. All the information presently available to us opposes this view and suggests that the Roman Mithras cult was not an imported cult from Iran, but a cult that developed within the borders of the Roman Empire and grew there after the end of the first century A.D. It is certain that this cult would not have originated among the Romans if the Iranian god Mithra had been unknown to them. We know that Graeco-Roman authors diseminated information about the god Mithra. Since the regions of the East, where the deity Mithra was worshiped prior to the Roman Mithraic cult ( especially in Asia Minor), belonged to the Roman Empire, it is very likely that the Romans saw visual representations of this god and thus became familiar with Mithraic iconography.
The author of the present book assumes that the Roman cult of Mithras is not identical with the cult of Mithra/Mithras/Mithres in the Hellenistic East or even in Iranian religion, but must be regarded as an independent cult in the context of Roman religion. At the same time, the author is convinced that an important link existed between the three cults mentioned above. It is not only the name of the god, which goes back to an Indo-Iranian appellative mitra (Neutr.), but also the figure or personality of the god, who in the Roman Empire was called Mithras, in the Hellenistic Orient Mithra or Mithres and in Iran Miθra/Mithra (later Mihr). The author, on the basis of the literary, epigraphic and nunmismatic sources and other representations of the god, compares the personality of “Mithra” ( used here as the summary meta-name for different deities).
Das Studienbuch ist aus Erfahrungen des Unterrichts zu den im Untertitel genannten Religionen erwachsen, wobei der methodische Zugang religionshistorisch (bis zur Gegenwart) und religionsvergleichend ist. Daher werden die drei Religionen der Zoroastrier, Yeziden und Baha’i in einer weitgehend parallelen Struktur beschrieben, um so das gemeinsame “iranische Erbe” sichtbar zu machen, ohne die jeweiligen Eigenheiten der drei Religionen zu nivellieren oder zu harmonisieren. Behandelt werden (bei jeder der drei Religionen) u.a. identitätsstiftende Faktoren für die Religion und die Religion als identitätsmarker, ferner “klassische” Themen zu Welt- und Menschenbild inklusive ethische Herausforderungen sowie das weite Feld der (rituellen) Praxis. Genauso kommen jeweils Organisationsstrukturen sowie die einbettung der Religion in den gesellschaftlichen und religionspolitischen Diskurs im iranischen Raum im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert sowie die Verbreitung im deutschsprachigen Raum seit zwei bis drei Generationen zur Sprache. Kap. 6 geht auch auf die Religionspolitik der Islamischen Republik Iran ein.
This year’s topic is “Zoroastrianism in modern and contemporary Iran”, where Zoroastrianism exists as a recognized religious minority. The course will address matters such as lived religious praxis, gender and community organizations, social, religious and ritual change, memory and visions of history, nationalist ideologies and minority rights.
The Middle Persian Dēnkard “Acts of the religion” is a summary of 10th-century Zoroastrian knowledge of religion, considered as the “Mazdean encyclopedia”. It is divided into nine books of which, the first two and the beginning of the third are lost. The Book IX of Dēnkard consists commentaries on the three great Mazdean prayers: Ahunwar, Ašem vohū, and Yeŋ́hē hātąm from the gathic nasks of Sūtkar, Varštmānsar, and Bagnasks. Tafażżolī’s edition comprises the first two nasks, which are of mythical and historical contents.
Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. This volume is his for the first time postmortemously published doctoral thesis in ancient Iranian languages, defended on 1965 under the direction of Ṣādeq Kiā at the Tehran University. Furthermore he left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are also recently publihsed in The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli.