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Author: Julian Kreidl

In this paper, it is argued that in certain areas of pre-Islamic Eastern Iran the common lunar deity was not the male *māh- like in most regions of Western Iran, Bactria, and Sogdiana, but instead the feminine *māsti- with a prominent epithet, which may go back to *uxšma-kā-/*uxšma-kī- ‘the waxing one’ or, alternatively, *us-šma-kā-/*us-šma-kī- ‘the one who shines up’. In some parts of Badakhshan, her epithet even turned into the primary name of the goddess and the moon. This claim can be substantiated by the various names for ‘moon’ and ‘moonlight’ in Eastern Iranian languages for which I want to lay out a detailed historical development, as well as the Bactrian and Sogdian theophoric personal name ϸομογοβανδαγο/ʾxšwmβntk.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Paolo Ognibene

Journeys in the afterlife are present within the literatures of many peoples, including the Ossetians. In the Tales of the Narts, the hero Soslan enters the Land of the Dead by force, and equally by force he manages to get out of it, and so he tells us what he has seen. This tale has many elements in common with and others profoundly different from Dante’s Comedy and Ardā Vīrāz nāmag.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
In: Iran and the Caucasus

In the early years of the 20th century, unprecedent waves of Iranian subjects poured into Russia, especially to the Southern Caucasus region, in search of better income and better life. Most of them experienced extremely difficult life, which passed in search of food for themselves and their families. However, among the vast majority of the Iranian émigrés, there were those few who were able to succeed in gaining fortune, through business and their personal skills, but there were also those who did it through illegal activities. This article delves on two such Iranians, Piyadadi Jafar Mashadi Jafar-Ogli (Piyadadah Jaʻfar Mashhadi Jaʻfar-Oǧlu) and Yusif Gadji Karbalai (Haji Yusif Karbalaʼi), who were involved in cross-border smuggling activity, with ammunition from Russia to Iran being one of them. Their cases shed light on the dark and secretive corners of the illegal interaction between Russian administrative and military authorities in the Southern Caucasus region and some of the Iranian migrants. In turn, these interactions enable us to ponder on their exceptional expressions in comparison with the interactions with most of the Iranian migrants.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Antonio Panaino

The Avestan text of Yašt 13,2-3 preserves an archaic simile in which the earth is described as an egg brooded by a bird. This beautiful image cannot be framed within any proto- Iranian cosmological myth, so that we cannot presume a priori the existence of an ancestral description of the earth and the sky as globular or spherical. Of course, images such as the one of Yašt 13,2-3 might inspire later cosmological developments, although the inter-textual references are unclear and need a further investigation. In this respect, it is remarkably important a brief, but precise, allusion to a cosmic “egg” (ᾠόν), mentioned in a well-known book of Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride, ch. 47). This source actually introduces the image of the whole “good creation” compared with an “egg”, practically corresponding to the earth. Thus, this cosmic egg assumes a specific role within the myth of the Ahremanic extra-cosmic aggression of the world. In fact, Ahreman attacks and pierces the surface of the egg. The present doctrine could be a reflex of an earlier Avestan tradition, although not explicitly preserved, in which the eggshell represented the heavens, while the yolk corresponded to the earth. This simple cosmological architecture would have probably paved the way to some later Mazdean visualizations of the heavens, as the one contained into the Dādestān ī Mēnōg ī Xrad 44,8-11, which compares the sky, the earth, the waters and all the rest placed in between with an egg” (xāyag-dēs). In any case, a prudent approach to the sources does not allow us to assume that the early Iranian cosmology developed any special doctrine of Indo-Iranian heritage with regard to the cosmic egg, although this image assumed an interesting role in later times, but without the same emphasis attested in other ancient cultures.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Authors: Yury Lander and Timur Maisak

The paper describes expressions with the meaning ‘other’ in East Caucasian (Nakh-Daghestanian) languages. It is shown that four main strategies can be distinguished: i) the ‘one’-based strategy: ‘other’ includes the numeral ‘one’; ii) the demonstrative-based strategy: ‘other’ includes a demonstrative pronoun; iii) the mixed demonstrative-based + ‘one’- based strategy: ‘other’ includes both a demonstrative and the numeral ‘one’; and iv) the lexical strategy: ‘other’ is a dedicated adjective (pronoun), not necessarily derived from any other clearly discernable source.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Garnik Asatrian

This is an attempt of tracing an ancient PIr. cultural lexeme in the language of the Talishis, an Iranian people inhabiting the south-western shores of the Caspian Sea, historically known as Talysh or Talyshistan. The term—a unique living remnant of the Old Iranian vocabulary in the whole Western New Iranian expanse (its only cognate in New Persian survived in Classical literature)—belongs to the sphere of syrup-making and denotes primarily date-plum syrup.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The Armenian mediaeval culture is a treasure of ornaments. Sacral architecture, stone and wood carvings, decorations on paper and fabric, all contain planar periodic patterns. For the first time we classify the available ornaments according to their symmetry properties with the tools of mathematical group theory. We determine the unit cells of patterns, axes of rotation, mirror and glide reflections, all symmetry operations that preserve the pattern invariant. The results show that of seventeen crystallographic plane groups, four do not exist. Other symmetry groups are represented in a more or less balanced distribution with a dominance of fourfold symmetry. The distribution of the symmetry groups can be used to rigorously compare different cultural groups. Armenia, with its geographical location along the Silk Road, was inspired by different cultures and served as a source of inspiration for many cultures. The mathematical analysis of ornaments is an objective measure to follow such interactions.

In: Iran and the Caucasus