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Saʿdi of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Desire in Medieval Persian Poetry
Beholding Beauty: Saʿdi of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Desire in Medieval Persian Poetry explores the relationship between sexuality, politics, and spirituality in the lyric output of Saʿdi Shirazi (d. 1282 CE), one of the most revered masters of classical Persian literature. Relying on a variety of sources, including unpublished manuscripts, Domenico Ingenito reads the so-called “inimitable smoothness” of Saʿdi’s lyric style as a serene yet multifaceted window onto the uncanny beauty of the world, the human body, and the realm of the unseen.

The eight chapters of the book constitute the first attempt to study Sa‘di’s lyric meditations on beauty in the context of the major artistic and intellectual trends of his time. By mining unexplored connections between Islamic philosophy and mysticism, between obscene verses and courtly ideals of love, Ingenito approaches Sa‘di’s literary genius from the perspective of sacred homoeroticism and the psychology of performative lyricism in their historical context.

Iran-Russia relations are highly affected by the shared interest of the two countries in confronting the influence of the United States in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus. However, the development of the relationship between the two countries has been hampered by the ongoing legacy of historical antagonism between them, casting doubt and pessimism upon the prospect of more constructive bilateral relations. Two groups of internal and external factors are the main obstacles to the expansion of cooperation between Iran and Russia. First, the lack of economic overlap or affiliation between Iran’s dependent economy and Russia's energy exports, and the state-based nature of both economies, as well as their cultural and social differences. Second, despite the Nuclear Deal, the difficulties in relations between the West, Russia and Iran remain a barrier to the expansion of Iran-Russia cooperation.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

In the light of recent investigations by archaeologists and historians of art, several textile decorative patterns that have been uncritically attributed to Sasanian Persia in the past should be considered most likely Central Asian creations. Typical Iranian composite creatures, such as the so-called simurgh, had become very popular in Eurasia since the 7th century A.D. However, for some reason not completely clear, the so-called simurgh was not adopted by Central Asian Buddhists who, on the contrary, accepted other Iranian (possibly Sogdian) motifs, such as the wild boar head, the winged horse and birds holding a necklace in their beak within pearl roundel frames. The presence of such Iranian decorative motifs in monumental arts or objects of luxury arts (textiles, metalwork, glass, etc.) could be a valid instrument to propose better chronologies for excavated artifacts on a very wide area, which includes Persia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Tibetan Plateau as well.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Uwe Bläsing

It is a well-known fact that the stage of etymological research forms a quite slippery floor in particular when dealing with possible loans from tongues beyond the domain of one’s specialization. The present article is concerned with a case where a narrow, i.e. an internal caucasological view on the etymology of a word delivers already a quite plausible and convincing result, which, however, in a wider areal framing, offering a serious alternative, appears to be untenable. This alternative, definitely a preferable view, focusing on the word’s Turkish origin, will be introduced through a thorough discussion highlighting many aspects relevant for robust etymological research. The term in question is, of course, TURKISH azmak ‘marshland, swamp’.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Esmaeil Sangari

So far, more than forty Sasanian bas-reliefs have been discovered in numerous archaeological sites. Among them, eleven bas-reliefs in seven archaeological sites represent women on them. In this article, the eleven bas-reliefs and the women’s images and their characteristics in different scenes have been analyzed and studied. It can be concluded that women on these bas-reliefs have been represented in the social-cultural fields, such as in the royal family or as goddesses, musicians, etc. Most of the female characters on the bas-reliefs belong to the upper classes of the Iranian society.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Paolo Ognibene

Vsevolod Miller in the third part of his Ossetic Studies considered the names of the metals both in Iron and Digoron, with particular reference to those of Finno-Ugric origin, in order to determine the way followed by the Alans to reach the Northern Caucasus in the first century A.D. In this paper Miller's theory is examined in the light of the historical linguistic data currently available.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Ela Filippone

On the meaning of Ved. (dual) kukṣí, a denomination for pair body parts frequently equated to bodies of water in Vedic texts, different assumptions have been made by scholars. In particular, Stephanie Jamison suggested interpreting it as “the two cheeks”, Henk Bodewitz as “the two sides of the body”. The present paper supports Bodewitz’ claim that Ved. kukṣí- was used to refer to any of the sides of the abdomen. In fact, abdominal sides may be categorised as containers of liquids. This is also proved by the denominations for the abdominal side (as distinct from the thoracic side) recorded in some Iranian languages, which may be considered as part of the legacy of the ancient theory of humours and the microcosm-macrocosm theory.

In: Iran and the Caucasus